Innovating flat pack, foldable furniture for the needs of the modern home, Alexandra Record’s unique Motion Side Table design joined the ranks of the daring dozen shortlisted for The Conran Shop’s New Designers 2021 award; learn more about Record’s inspirations and design ethos below.
1. Congratulations on being shortlisted for The Conran Shop and The Marandi Foundation's Designer of the Future Award 2021; how do you feel, and what does this award mean for your future and practice?
I am very excited to be shortlisted. I put a lot of hard work and love into this project, and I am delighted that it can be recognised and shown. Being shortlisted has given me confidence in my work and ability which will help me develop in the future.
2. Are you familiar with the work we do at The Conran Shop and of Sir Terence's legacy? Did it have any influence on your work?
Yes, I am familiar with the work from The Conran Shop and of Sir Terence's legacy. His approach to design is inspiring since his designs are so personal to him. I am also a true believer in loving your designs and having a personal connection to them, making them grow.
3. Please tell us more about who you are and your project.
I am 22 years old and grew up in South Africa and Dubai, which has greatly influenced my life. Growing up around different cultures and people allowed me to be exposed to some amazing things and grow into the person I am today.
My project was inspired by my grandparents and their love for caravanning and the dislike of some camp furniture. With the growing popularity of caravanning as well as people looking to use space flexibly, I wanted to design a piece that could make the place feel more like home while still having the function of camp furniture. I am pleased with the outcome and look forward to seeing where I can take it in the future.
4. As to your work, who inspires it and do you have a particular process that drives your craft?
I am unusual since I do not look up to any particular designer and find that, looking at what is being designed today, I am inspired by a wide variety of different designers depending on the project. I did a placement working around 20th-century Scandinavian design, and I find looking back at older design can be inspiring and help move forward in the design process. However, from researching for my dissertation about originality, design fixation can be a problem for designers, so I try to refrain from limiting myself to what already exists and to innovate where possible.
5. How important do you think something like New Designers is for emerging designers?
Not only is it good publicity for us coming out into the world of design, especially now, but also I feel it boosts the confidence of the designer in their design ability. Designers, especially young designers, can have self-doubts and are not confident in their abilities. It is a fantastic first experience for students before entering the design world.
6. Looking around, did you see any emerging trends/shared concerns/materials with your fellow designers?
Sustainability has been significant this year. Whether that was with materials used, where they are sourced, how its transported and much more. Being sustainable will be critical going forward with the growing concerns about what will happen in our future and our impact on future generations.
7. What do you think are the biggest challenges facing emerging designers? Did the pandemic impact your work in any way, and how was it working through New Designers virtually?
Without speaking about the obvious pandemic, we will be competing with our peers for jobs and the class from last year. So there is a lot more competition for jobs this year which I fear may knock the confidence of some people.
The pandemic has definitely been hard through my final year of university. Not being able to have a casual conversation with coursemates was difficult since their opinions can help with development. However, feedback from some lecturers has been that work is more individual this year, which results from not having as many conversations with peers.
Working on New Designers virtually is challenging, especially since it is the show that everyone looks forward to at the end of their final year. However, it allowed more people to enter the show, which I think has benefited many people this year. Also, it has allowed people who have not been able to make a physical model this year to show off their work.
8. What, in your opinion, makes a design timeless?
Having an adaptable piece. For example, the concept of a table is timeless, but when you started adding details like integrated plugs, it makes it less timeless than just a simple table.
9. What are your ambitions for the next ten years?
I want to grow in design as well as grow in myself. To do this, I want to explore different areas of furniture design, such as designing for superyachts and sailing yachts. I love the idea of the need to make a piece of furniture multifunctional within a small space while exploring more classic designs that are still around today. I am very open to trying new things and excited to see where my life takes me in the next ten years.
10. Lastly, which is your favourite piece of design history and who is your best-loved designer?
Tough question to answer! I fell in love with the Art Deco period and still see its influence throughout the years. I also love 20th-century Scandinavian pieces from my placement, especially Josef Frank, Hans J. Wegner and Alvar Aalto. However, my best-loved designer has to be Charles Rennie Mackintosh since he bridged between Art Nouveau and Art Deco well and greatly influenced my designs in my earlier years.