ALEXANDER TAYLOR — Interview
Alexander Taylor, London-based industrial designer
Hello Alexander, how are you?
Can you introduce yourself?
Where does your interest in industrial design come from?
I am interested in how objects are made and I have a curiosity which lends itself to industrial design. I am not only interested in industrial design, in fact I was more interested in art from an early age, I like objects and images which tell a story and have a particular character, intuitive objects with a certain intelligence and humour.
What are the key features of your design?
I like working to find solutions and new ways to create and more often than not a new visual is created by working in this way. I have quite a specific criteria to create objects which offer something no matter how small but ones which rely very often on overcoming challenges and working out solutions. Now more than ever I am interested in the power of collaboration, working with experts in various fields to investigate and generate ideas.
I find actually that I have not created so many products however most of those produced represented a moment in time, they created a platform on which to build more multi-faceted design studio, constantly evolving and offering product development through to ‘proof of concept’ models, innovation, creative / art direction etc.
Can you tell us the story behind the products you developed with adidas?
My work with adidas started in 2008 when I was invited to work on a project especially for launch during the 2012 Olympics in London. The brief was to propose ‘new ways’ for making performance footwear and to look at technologies which existed at that time outside of the regular supply chain and technologies which were more common place in other industry.
I remember we had a tour of the making facility and were introduced to footwear production as I had not worked on any footwear prior to starting the project. It was explained that usually there were 16 + separate components which could make up a shoe, this stuck with me and from the very start of the project I was a little obsessed with trying to create a single piece upper without compromising the functionality and performance requirements.
I focussed early on with an interest to produce a knitted upper and the project developed over the 4 years working with adidas developers until launching at the Games in 2012. We achieved the single piece upper and in turn one of the lightest and most sustainable products ever for the brand.
During the development of the knit project I was asked to continue to work and propose other projects and develop new technologies.
More recently we are starting to see the results of the past 5 or 6 years come to the surface, both in more in-line products and more specifically with the current series of Futurecraft projects illustrating a point of view and statement of intent for the brand moving forward.
One highlight of 2015 was having the opportunity to work on the Parley project presented in the UN in June.
Are you interested in other fields linked to advanced technological materials?
Absolutely and there are many areas where I can imagine the benefits of research we are undertaking in other industry and also the kind of way that we are working as a studio building a network of scientists / chemists / engineers etc. In the world of technology and textiles in particular there is huge potential and we only just scratch the surface.
Is there any designer you appreciate a lot?
I very much appreciate different designers for different reasons, some purely for formal and aesthetic understanding and producing everyday products we can live with and others who are not afraid to challenge the conventional. From a more classic reference point I admire designers such as Saarinen, Eames and Castiglioni, not only for the more famous known pieces of work but more for the way of working in multi faceted progressive studio’s, working on such a variety of projects.
Do you have a favourite material to work with?
I wouldn’t say I have a favourite material to work with, as mentioned already I think textiles has of course huge potential but I also enjoy the challenge of working and understanding all materials.
Is there a book or a manifesto which opened your eyes about design?
Not sure there is singular book or manifesto to open my eyes, I feel very fortunate to have met and both talk to and listen to some of the top designers, fashion designer and photographers in the world who have very much been my inspiration in their absolute focus to create exactly what they imagine and without compromise, this is so important!
Which books are on your bedside table?
…I am actually in a moment of reading books which are a little more business related, ‘think like a freak’ Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, ‘how to think fast and slow’ Daniel Kahneman, more strategy based and creative thinking which can be applied to multiple scenario, these books are sitting on top of Modernist Estates by Stefi Orazi.
The last word…
Interview: Dennis Moya & Tiffany Bähler — 02.16
Credits: adidas FutureCraft ©adidas, other pictures ©Alexander Taylor.