Mentoring design students, from top: Leslie Young, Laura Bohn, Tim Button and Carl D'Aquino

The Cliff Young Tribute Mentorship Program continues the series of student roundtables with Materials in Design, with mentors Laura Bohn, Tim Button and Carl D’Aquino.

A topic larger than life, a bunch of design students with lots of questions, great mentors. Thank you Laura, Tim, Carl and Designers Collaborative for sharing your time and wisdom with the upcoming generation of designers.

What inspires you when selecting materials for a new room design?

Inspiration works in mysterious ways: it starts with the room itself, its light, your clients, their needs and their lifestyle, materials that got stuck to your brain long time ago or the hot new thing you just saw.  It then gets processed, sometimes to unrecognizable levels, to provide the right aesthetic, comfort and function for the people living in the space. Most importantly, as Carl advises students, keep your passion for design alive and constantly nourish your imagination with everything new on the design scene, by visiting designers showhouses, design markets, art galleries, design showrooms, analyzing set designs or lighting schemes in movies and shows.

Where do you start in putting all the materials together for a room?

Great rooms start with excellent space planning (we now know where the inherent harmony of Laura Bohn’s interiors come from).  A basic skill taught in all design schools, space planning is always challenged and perfected with each room we design. Not only it sets the fundament of style and functionality of the room, but it leads to a masterful selection of furniture pieces, one by one, in the right materials and the right place. The loft with crooked floors that Tim recently designed was a challenge that couldn’t just be solved by leveling the floors. Each room and each elevation in the open floor plan had to be redefined with a clever use of different materials for flooring and walls in order to provide not only the comfort and function, but true luxury.

How do you think through material combinations for a new furniture design, and what about sustainability and afterlife?

Combining more than 2 materials for a new furniture design goes beyond aesthetic and basic functionality.  It requires a stricter discipline in engineering it with longer term behavior consideration in mind for each material, and different life spans or wear and tear.  You have to allow for wood to dry or expand within a metal frame, you have to allow for fabric to be replaced, parts to be changed or repaired.  We all like to think our designs will live forever, but we have to allow for them to be re-invented or renewed.  Sadly, while green building codes are already in place for architects, sustainability is still not a priority in interior design and furniture design, so as Tim pointed out we just have to follow sustainability in all our design decisions and make our clients happy with the extra advantage of living in a healthier space.

How do you research materials and organize your materials database?

From throwing material samples in bins in your, to organizing them in pinterest boards or building an extensive library, whatever keeps your inspiration going… Most importantly, the same recurring message came through – this work is about PASSION and love of great design.

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