Senior Designer Julian Evans carefully balances a life of industrial product design with a love of the coast.
Julian’s role within Broomejenkins is very broad. Due to the small team he is active at all stages of project work, as a necessity, from helping to initialize briefs and creating product strategy through concept creation and ideation to final delivery of an engineering package ready for production. His technical skill, market experience and competence in software means he is able to apply himself to a multitude of design related tasks.
Following completion of an MA in furniture design, Julian began his design career with a tenure as an in house designer for Verco, one of the UKs leading office seating manufacturers. This gave him an invaluable insight into what it was like to work manufacturing side, an experience that would give him an empathy with clients later in his career as a consultant. Julian continued to work for several other leading furniture manufacturers as part of R&D teams before finding employment with Broomejenkins, where he has helped deliver products for an international client base of industry leading companies.
His design ethos centres around delivering value on a project by project basis rather than applying a house style to each client. Every project has a different requirement and therefore the solutions should reflect this. He believes that designing a new product is always a balancing act between cost, aesthetics and function and these 3 facets can often conflict. At Broomejenkins they try to balance these out. He likes to deconstruct a brief to its very basic need and identify the core problem that needs to be solved and then start to rebuild a solution. In this way, there is more chance of arriving at a unique solution.
In Five Favourites Julian shares a selection of his favourite things, it is no surprise to find that this coastal based designer has a love for the beach.
1. LIVING BY THE SEA
I live about a 60 second walk from the beach, in Worthing, on the south coast of England. I have lived by the sea for the last 15 years and now I think it would be very hard for me to live away from it. I cycle to and from work and my commute home takes me along several miles of beach promenade.The beach is something that binds the people of my town together, a common facility that we all enjoy and perhaps take for granted. I make a conscience effort to never feel that way about it as I sit on the beach enjoying a beer in the summer while my kids eat ice cream. Or walking home from a night out listening to the waves and watching the lights of Brighton twinkle in the distance. “We live on a holiday” is what I tell my wife. Never take this for granted. The sea itself is an ever changing landscape, one day it can be violent and another like a sheet of turquoise glass. When the sun is out it's the first thing on everyone's mind: get down the beach asap!
3. SEEING YOUR IDEAS MADE PHYSICAL
As a designer of furniture it can take a long time between the concept stage to a product launched in the market. Many times the project does not even make it that far, so to see your ideas and 3D computer models turned into a physical 1:1 prototype and finally to a fully tooled, finished, production item is the pay off and really one of the best parts of being a designer. To create something from nothing and see it manifest and then affect others lives is just great. We recently went to the launch of a table range, ACDC, that we designed for one of our clients, Boss Design. They manufacture the product to the highest standard and gave it a proper launch party, followed up with some great marketing, something that is out of our hands as the designers, so it was satisfying to see the culmination of several years work get a proper introduction to the market.
2. EMBRACING DIGITAL TOOLS
I’m not a luddite. I actively seek out digital tools that will make me more efficient, from the Google drive suite of applications to Pinterest and spotify to website builders and software itself. There are so many online services and tools that democratize tasks that were once time consuming, expensive and required an inaccessible skill set. If something needs a little bit of learning though, to get up to speed then I’m ready and willing, if it presents effective benefits later on. Many of these tools are also available on my mobile phone which means I can do something creative or get inspiration, do some research and just plain old admin, quite literally, whenever I choose.
4. SNOWBOARDING AND BEING IN MOUNTAINS
I've been snowboarding for nearly 20 years now. It's a once a year thing. Its takes a lot of my energy these days but everything about a mountain holiday is just brilliant. The scenery is breathtaking, obviously. The air is crisp. The anticipation as you ascend into the mountains watching the snow become thicker. The alpine comfort food that gets devoured with vigour because you have been physical all the day. The mountain timber architecture. The joy when you get fresh snow. Then of course the actual riding which, depending on conditions, can vary from just acceptable to a feeling close to perfection when you're carving out fresh tracks into a field of virgin powder, so effortless, everything just flows. Of course after a day expending energy everyone is ready for some apres ski, The bars are packed but there is no tension, just people from 2 year olds to retired couples with exceptional tans all with a common subject to talk about. Not forgetting you sleep like a baby.
5. MOMENTS OF INSPIRATION
Designing is hard. Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t. It's easy for someone to look at something and make suggestions on how to change it but to start with a blank sheet, nothing, and start to formulate something is massively hard. Designers don’t necessarily have an inherent magic skill that means they can pop ideas out one after the other, well not me anyway. It's difficult and even harder to repeat it day after day. There are tools available to help with idea generation but it’s not like you can go through a set of steps and an idea will pop out the other end, guaranteed. It's a process full of uncertainty. You can spend whole days trying to crack something and not get anywhere and after a while you begin to doubt yourself and start to feel a bit rubbish. Conversely, when the inspiration does hit you and this can be either when you’re in a focussed state or, more commonly when your subconscious has done its thing and you get the solution when you're least expecting it, the feeling is great, a real buzz, and then you scrabble to turn what's in your head into something more tangible so you can validate the spark you had. If it checks out then its full steam ahead and your off once more feeling good about yourself and the profession. This tends to be a constant cycle for me, like peaks and troughs on a graph. These days though I'm old enough and experienced enough to know that however daunting a problem might be we always find a solution so I don't get panicked or too down when ideas aren’t coming.