Frederic Gooris is a talented designer from Belgium, currently working in Milan, after establishing his own studio here, in 2004. In 2009 he co-founded Bombol, a brand for baby articles, some of which you will see in the projects below. Frederic gained experience by working for Philippe Starck and Stefano Giovannoni on a very wide range of projects for internationally renowned companies. There is a lot to learn from his answers, especially if you are a young designer looking for inspiration:
Freshome: What determined your passion for design? Tell us about the moment when you decided this is the way to go. Frederic Gooris: During my architecture studies, I got in contact with product design. At that point I realized how interwoven we are with the objects that surround us, how they determine who we are and how we behave. This realization made me switch from architecture to product design.
BAMBOO Baby Rocker
Freshome: Can you remember your first design project? Describe it a bit, whether it is a gizmo you worked at as a little kid or something that was sold at a large scale. Frederic Gooris: My first real design project was the bathroom for Alessi when I entered the studio of Giovannoni. We started from a blank piece of paper, developing the concepts, working with engineers to translate the concepts into products, al the way through to the renders for the catalogue. It was the first time I had a complete picture of what it means to design objects. Freshome: What field of design are you most interested in? Do your works have anything to do with it ? (We are asking this because not many designers do what they actually want) Frederic Gooris: Mass produced items particularly interest me as they touch the lives of so many people. Bringing some magic to everyday life through these objects can make this world a more pleasant place.
Freshome: Chronologically describe what you are going through (feeling and thoughts) on your way to work. Frederic Gooris: I love to work at night when the phones are quiet and the kids in bed, that is – creatively speaking – my most productive period of the day. As a consequence I only have one thought in the morning: “Coffee, coffee, coffee…” Freshome: What is your favorite book/magazine on design? How about your favorite site? Frederic Gooris: Honestly, I don’t really have any favorites. As for the website I love www.TED.com, as such a wide variety of subjects and people bring their views. Freshome: What inspires you? Frederic Gooris: Achille Castiglioni, one of the greatest masters in Italian design ever, because of the lightness and playfulness he was able to put in his designs.
Freshome: What is the most frustrating aspect of your job as a designer? And the most rewarding one? Frederic Gooris: The most frustrating aspect is when a project is stopped or cancelled for reasons that are out of your control. Every idea feels like your baby, and nobody likes to say goodbye to his/her babies. The most rewarding part is when a project is well received by people, in the hope that your idea brought a little more happiness to the world. Freshome: From your point of view, is design an art or a science? Frederic Gooris: A designer needs to know many sciences: anthropology, sociology, production techniques and the costs they imply, the distribution and sales mechanisms just to name a few. On the other side design is an art in the sense in the sense it is all about creation. But above all design is the art to find the solutions that fulfill all parameters. Freshome: Tell us something unusual that happened in your career. Frederic Gooris: Being picked by Philippe Starck for my first job after school, that was a very unique experience. Freshome: Let’s say you entered a contest. You have to come up with a design for the first house on the Moon built for extra-terrestrial living. How would your project look like? Frederic Gooris: Imagine if you were to live on the moon, however romantic it may sound, truth is that you live under a black sky surrounded by rocks and dust. So to make you feel at home, it would look pretty much like a house. Freshome: If you had no limits (money, resources), what would you create? Frederic Gooris: A light bulb, one that combines the romanticism of the old incandescent bulbs with the energy efficiency of the new LED or fluorescent bulbs.
BELLEVILLE coat hanger and magazine holder
Freshome: Share something you would like the world to know about you or your ideas. Frederic Gooris: The red line through my work is trying to design objects that are genuine, communicative and accessible.
Artificially created needs result in obsolete design. A “genuine” design translates the evolving needs of society into solutions and thus allows society to progress. Just like between people, beauty without substance is no base for a lasting relationship; only the products that give a satisfying answer on both fronts – emotionally and rationally – will create a strong relation with the user.
Good design does not need convincing or rationalization. Just like children are attracted to things on a purely emotive basis, good design contains the codes – within its cultural context – that strike “the right notes” with people. The object or concept transmits its message by itself without the need of additional explanations. The larger the group of people that understands the codes incorporated in the object, the larger your market will be and the more successful a product will be.
I like design that is accessible, as well conceptually as economically.
“Design” is all too often talked about as a style, a purely aesthetical language, often a gimmick to justify the high sales prices that turn it into a status symbol. Design must be at the service of people, and not vice versa.
Design is about improving objects compared to their predecessors and at affordable prices, so that its improvements can be enjoyed by as many people as possible.
FREEZY Lighting Cushion
Freshome: What do you think of our site? Frederic Gooris: Very nice! Freshome: What advice do you have for young designers or architects reading this interview? Frederic Gooris: Most of us enjoy a quite high standard of living. But this comfort comes at a steep environmental cost. We are all aware that fundamental changes in our behavior are needed, but how to overcome the inertia of a whole society? More than ever, designers and architects bear a huge responsibility as we are at the source of consumerism. But being at the source gives designers and architects the power to influence. We can influence how people interact with objects. By designing the interaction with the object, we can steer behavior in a more sustainable direction, without asking people to give up comfort or pleasure. Design as a Trojan horse, if you please, where the design of the object becomes the mean, not the goal. Think about it!