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GS Looking at your past catalogue of work, it’s very difficult to find a repetition in style. And yet most designers are selected because the clients have seen their work elsewhere and want at least part of that style reproduced for their own projects. AK Well it’s easy to do the same thing, and as you say, some designers do that, they have a recognisable style, which they use for different client projects like a stamp, but I took a conscious decision a long time ago not to do that. In my opinion it’s important for a brand to be different, to differentiate itself in what has become a very crowded marketplace. And if it can’t be different, it probably won’t survive. Already there are too many bars and restaurants that have the same look and feel: too many similar fish in a crowded pool!

GS You refer to your clients as salmon. Why is that? AK We use the term because they, like the salmon, are unique. It’s a beautiful fish, the salmon. It swims upstream when all the other fish swim in the opposite direction. So the salmon is unique, beautiful and different and that is what our clients are like.

GS Do you seek out clients who want to be different? AK When we meet a new potential client we ask

lots of questions. Sometimes they will say they want their designs to look like someone else in the marketplace, and we say why? Why would you want to copy someone else? At our studio, we apply a similar process and approach but the outcome will always be different. And we don’t know exactly what the outcome will be until we go through the process.

GS On your website you have a design research publication which is full of good ideas and content, available for anyone to view. Tis is rare as most designers tend to keep their ideas to themselves. Why be so generous? AK I think that designers have created a bad name for themselves as being difficult to work with and reluctant to share ideas. I go to meetings where there’ll be a project manager and a quantity surveyor and all these people involved in the work process and the moment I arrive they say “Oh, here comes trouble. Here comes the designer!” People automatically assume that we’ll be egocentric, impossible to work with and very expensive. And that we’ll make the budget spiral out of control. One of the reasons I set up my own studio is to change that perception. I think we need to do more than just design.

we need to educate people about the value of design, we need to change the negative image

people have about designers but we need to do this collectively involving the whole design industry.

GS You have said “I want to turn spaces into three dimensional stories infused with meaning, innovation and timeless value”. What does that mean? AK I think it comes down to my history. I trained as a product designer, not as an architect or interior designer. I didn’t go looking for a commercial interior project. It came to me by chance. Even now, after ten years of hospitality design, I still don’t think of myself as an interior designer. Tat term conjures up the stereotype of someone who combines colours and fabrics to make good looking spaces. We were bringing new ideas to the table, re-thinking spaces. Tinking more

GS Magazine 39

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