Another one of my lectures was about industrial designer, Amos Marchant. I say industrial designer as this in one of the terms he uses to describe his work.
He started life as a young boy taking things apart that his dad brought home, looking at how things where put together and the mechanisms that made it work. Following this he went on to study furniture and product design. He couldn’t choose between the two as he was unsure where his career path was going to take him and Kingston Polytechnic, where he studied was one of few places that offered this merge of disciplines. But here he learnt more about how things work and how these parts and mechanisms could be used to solve problems.
Whilst studying the use of computers was very limited and therefore alot of his designs had to be hand-drawn using drawing boards. Today he uses AutoCAD and solid works alongside his hand-drawing skills to achieve his designs, and he believes the days of modelling and free hand drawing are over, but still very important.
He later went on to be self employed setting up a company with a friend. One of their first projects was to design a bar stool, which has now led to be one of their most famous designs. The ‘Luna’ as the stool is called has a clever mechanism where the stool legs, go through the footrest to become a fixing mechanism. This was later exhibited at 100% design and was picked up by Allermuir, a Blackburn based design company, and it has now been in production over 15years and has also led them to designing a stacking chair alternative.
Over the years Amos has participated in and design many exhibitions as he felt this enabled him to get known as a designer and to also access funding and sponsorships. Over the years he has exhibited many of his designs at 100% design and for the last 12 years has also been on their selection committee.
Amos has also done some teaching in his time, working at Ravensbourne College for 14years. He originally started teaching the furniture design course, but later moved on to teaching the product design course. Whilst teaching he tried to drive as many live projects into the college as he could, as he knew the importance of these to students. One of the projects he completed was ‘Please be Seated’ in which he worked with design student Julian Slattery to design a series of park benches designed for London Architectural Biennale and sponsored by Bloomberg. The design was a wooden bench, with a dropped down section at a lower level, ideally for a child or elderly person.
One of the issues and problems Amos found was that many exhibitions had to be constructed compact and modular especially for touring around. He had to create leg structures that were able to be dismantled but on the other hand where still strong. He also tried to design exhibitions that where so compact that they could easily fit into a standard vehicle to enable reduction in costs.
Amos also refers to himself as a ‘problem solver’ commisioned to design solutions to problems that people face. An example of this was when he was asked to reduce the furniture costs by ½ for a conference centre that had to travel around. When he was analysing the project and looking at ways he could reduce costs he found that the 2 technicians who assembled the conference centre had to wait for an electrician in the specified country to help them connect the centre up. This was a very time and cost consuming exercise and therefore Amos turned the project into a product & furniture concept to solve the problem.
Many of his problem solving issues came from exhibitions already knowing he had to make them compact and modular to reduce costs, other issues started to come into the frame. One issue he tackled was for the Jerwood moving images awards, 2008. Here he had to design a solution that would allow 8 video artists, exhibit their work discreetly with no distractions to others, in also a very compact space. Here therefore created two large cubed structures, suspended within the space displaying the videos.
One of the largest exhibitions that Amos has designed was the Brit Insurance Designs of the year exhibition. This exhibition took place in the Design Museum, London, 2009 and presented the most significant achievements in design from the previous 12 months. One hundred designs where exhibited from many disciplines including architecture, fashion, furniture, graphics, interaction, product and transport design. With most of the exhibition being constructed off site, Amos had to find solutions to the problems and most of these ended up being of modular construction. Another issue Amos faced was the lack of audio equipment and space and therefore he imbedded screens into surfaces with glass overlays to increase space.
Another one of the innovative designs that Amos has created is the upside down chair. Reflecting on his own family lifestyle and his children he understood there needed to be a happy medium between a child’s and adult’s chair. He then created a solution to the problem which ended up being the upside down chair. This chair enabled the child to be seated at the table at the correct height, but once the chair was overturned the chair then became the correct height for an adult.
Overall Amos struggles to communicate his designer role, as he feels it’s never really just product or furniture designs. He seems himself as a ‘problem solver’ and most of his work comes from people wanting him to solve their problems. He is a self employed, freelance designer and never really completes any private commissions, he finds most his of projects somewhat lead from one another. After the lecture had finished he quickly spoke about how his passion for design and problem solving began, stating that as a child his Dad used to bring him home old office equipment. This could be anything from a phone, chair or even typewriter but Amos used to take them apart and see how they go together. This sparked his imagination, but it wasn’t until he got to college that he understood more of how these parts/mechanisms worked and how he could use them to solve problems.
A few short words from Amos describing his bio – I am an independent industrial designer and design consultant. He designs a wide range of products and works with clients to develop design strategies. He is also principle designer for one-or-more which provides additional manufacturing support for clients.
Amos graduated in 1987 from Kingston polytechnic with a BA honours degree in furniture and product design and went on to complete a MA in design studies from central of martins college of art and design.
After working with several design consultancies designing everything from trains to office furniture systems Amos established a London based design studio. He is perhaps most known for the ‘Luna’ ,aluminium furniture range designed for Allermuir lTD.It has been in production since 1996 and has been specified all over the world.