The Multidisciplinary Designer


we were in monaco a few weeks ago and were taken aback by the sheer individuality of philippe starck's motor yacht a sitting just off the coast. It got me thinking about the stigma which surrounds the term, 'multi-disciplinary designer'.



What do we picture when we think of a ‘designer’. Is it the ‘stereo-typical ideal of someone scribbling away with a marker pen, or selecting samples on a large desk, maybe even carrying around a roll of blueprints? Whatever the vision it is probably wrong and undoubtably outdated.

Designers seem to have become pigeon holed as of late, and to make matters worse the industry has aided and abetted this syndrome, becoming infatuated with roles and titles both internally (the designers label for themselves) and outwardly (the message relayed to the client).

This in-turn has led the average agency becoming super specialist. Now, of course this isn't necessarily a problem and after all it means a couple of clicks on google and a perspective end client can find a ‘retail designer that specialises in branded pop up stores’.

However, is there a darker flip side. Does this specialism obsession bypass the average designers ability to investigate, research and delve into the unknown, voiding the ability to come up with answers that we do not pre-know the solution. How much research is actually done if we know that topic too intimately and when does it becomes second nature to rattle a design out when we know what the client wants and knowing the easy solution is at hand?

I guess this question has got us thinking, ultimately, is it better to be a jack of all trades or a master of one


Similar to most things, it comes down to balance. As a director working with a junior designer with one years experience, you can sense their excitement of the challenge - the hunt is on to discover the a-ha moment where there is suddenly a clear direction and route to take. There is that shear joy in investigating multiple avenues and being on a journey of discovery to find the correct solution.

This is what really should be embraced and captured, and after all, that's really whats it's all about. Did we go into design to do the same thing everyday or to wake up not knowing what to expect, tapping into the problem solving part of the brain and trying to create something new and exciting.


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We sometimes mock the ‘starchitect’ who suddenly decides to design a pair of shoes or the product designer who creates a building, however after the press coverage and mocking resides, its worth taking a fresh look at these creations. More often than not the result is one of huge benefit to design whilst bringing something new and different to the client.

Take Philipe Starks A Motor Yacht (launched 2008), of course he is not a fully trained naval architect, yet teaming up with a master boat builders Blohm + Voss and naval architect Martin Francis allowed him to come up with something unique and exciting. Would one of the more mainstream designers push things as far in such a short time, quite simply no. 

The world of design and architecture in terms of styling, moves fairly slowly, so its certainly worth mixing it up and having someone who will try something different once in a while, exhibiting bravery to try something new.

Knowledge is a transferable asset - as interior designers, we should look to stray from the norm and adopt skills and styling utilised by product designers, architects, automotive & nautical designers. There isn't always one way to reach a solution.

As a company, we personally weigh a heavy emphasis on the research and investigation phase of a project, which then naturally drives the problem solving practices and technical and implementation phases where technical expects are involved for delivery. This free’s up us to be bolder, create the unexpected and ultimately… design.



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Images: Top - Philippe Starck Motor Yacht A | Middle Left - Zaha Hadid Adidas Original Superstar | Middle Right - Philippe Starck | Middle Bottom - Thomas Heatherwick Spun Chair for Magis


James Van Tromp