Conversation with James Irvine

James Irvine© Studio Irvine

What is your approach to design?
My design philosophy is ever-changing. Every project has different needs and demands and has a different context; my design approach necessarily bends to fit the requirements of each project.A designer must be adaptable. I find it interesting when a designer pulls back a bit. Currently, we live in times where designers have enormous egos. I’m interested in the product as the unsung hero.

What was the idea behind the Juno collection?
From the beginning, the concept was to create a one-shot, gas-assisted injection-molded chair program. The challenge of this project was in designing a program which took into account very high technology throughout the design process. From a design perspective, I was very interested in slimming down the chair to make it feel visually and physically light. Without realizing, I was searching for a more traditional language closer to solid wood or plywood. I wanted to create something essential and crisp. To achieve the slim, light silhouette, the outside edge of the leg is a narrow eight-millimeters while its section increases in width towards the center of the chair to stabilize the legs and create overall structural integrity. Conceptually, this idea is more reminiscent of solid wood construction than of plastic. When you look at it in profile, it is thin — it’s a visual trick to try to make the whole chair look lighter. This construction is only possible because of the technology; using a gas assisted one-shot process the plastic is very precise. It’s like taking what I would consider the best of everything — precision, technology and classic concepts — and putting them all together.

Juno Collection - design by James Irvine© Marco Covi

What are the considerations behind using plastic as a material?
Plastic gives you the freedom to do incredibly fluid forms. You can do anything you like. That freedom can be enticing. But, like many technologies, after the excitement of exploring the parameters of what is possible, one tends to look for something which is more familiar, more true to the principles of “good design.”With the introduction of any new technology, there is the opportunity to create symbolic expression of the innovation. My design process was more about controlling plastic than letting the material dictate the form. The Juno chair is a practical, elegant chair that I think will be long-lasting.

How do you evaluate good design?
Most recently, I have become interested in observating how people interact with a finished product.

How do they react to an object?
When someone is at ease, you know the product is a success. You gain a world of knowledge from watching the dialogue between a person and a produced design.It is a reciprocal relationship. For me, this is a great inspiration.

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