Edward Hayter on industrial design

Edward Hayter is a South Australian designer whose company Artifax focuses on lighting, industrial and furniture design. In this piece, Edward reflects on his personal design philosophy and process.

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Edward Hayter’s ‘Cornetto’ light. Image: Edward Hayter

Design is not an easy process to understand. To help my understanding of design and direct my own business, I first asked myself: what are the values that represent my company and my design approach?

Design can be summarised by one word – creativity. A creative person is someone who thinks differently to others and therefore has the ability to create a unique product. Creative people generally originate from the periphery of design thinking, often generating new and bespoke design ideas that are different to the rest. Without creativity, there would be no need for design.

I believe a good designer is not only creative, but also virtuous. Therefore, designers need to have a committed responsibility to excite users with new, but smart and sensible, ideas in order to flourish in the marketplace. The core backbone of design is not just about the appearance of the finished product, but about the mechanics that fuel that particular product.

Products can tell a story that is sometimes passed down through generations. My first product, the Cornetto Light, has a story that brought life to the product. I was eating a Cornetto ice-cream on a hot summer’s day while brainstorming ideas for a pendant light design. The sun melted my ice-cream that had dripped onto my clothes and this gave me the idea of designing a cone-shaped pendant light, similar to the ice-cream.

What a lot of observers to design do not understand thoroughly is the design process. It only takes 10% of a designer’s time to come up with an idea and 90% to make that idea work. The Cornetto Light involved sketching, a 3D computer-generated model, engineering drawings, researching manufacturers to make my light, negotiating the business with contracts and pricing, an excruciatingly long waiting period, discussions with retailers to sell the light, and finally, marketing and dealing with finances. It’s not easy and you need stamina to make it happen.

Designing sustainable products is important for reducing wastage and encouraging product longevity. My Cornetto Light is a great example of using minimal materials of copper and glass, and of an appropriate manufacturing process that blends the materials together to create the finished light. Developing good products is essential in establishing a good business. I continuously learn and experiment the recipe for a good product that represents the core values of Artifax.

I have wanted to start up my own design business since graduating from university. Part of this mentality came from my unfortunate luck searching for jobs online and making enquiries, where I received little interest. I have slowly been in the process of starting my business since late 2015 and I am still waiting to launch my first product. It has been incredibly hard and I could have easily given up. At one point, that looked like the most sensible solution. That was the most difficult time for me setting up my business. I like to think of my adventure as persevering and believing in yourself to succeed. I persevered for two long, arduous years and it finally paid dividends with the establishment of my business.

One of the most challenging prospects that emerging designers face today is that of finding a job in the profession. Smaller cities across the country are losing young talent to larger cities, like Melbourne and Sydney, where work is more abundant. It is difficult being specially trained in a profession where there is high competition and not a lot of work being offered. However, Adelaide is becoming a world leader for young entrepreneurs and there are government schemes in this realm that encourage young people to venture down this road.

These programs should inspire competition amongst the design community to produce quality design that can be seen by the public. This would boost interest among high school students in studying design and increase awareness of the opportunities design can offer. There are a lot of imaginative ways in which designers and the public can amalgamate ideas to help progress unforeseen talent. For example, there could be a focus group organised by a local council where people talk to design professionals and suggest problems to which the designers may be able to create solutions. Perhaps it could be as simple as organising a live show where designers need to think on the spot to fulfill an idea from an audience member. There are many ways, if we just think creatively.

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