Sydney-based designer Charles Wilson, best known for his design of upholstered furniture, graduated in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts in Industrial Design. Since then, he has formed a design studio and has worked with many manufacturers to produce his pieces.

We asked him a few questions about being a designer, what his influences are, and the process he goes through to create a piece.

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What is the best thing about being a designer?

I love the potential to perfect a given idea that comes with design for production. Unlike other creative forms, such as fine art, craft, or even Architecture which in a way is the ongoing design of prototypes, product designers can continually resolve the issues of functionality, materials, proportion etc in advance of the end result. I guess this also would partly explain why I am drawn to being a freelance designer – unlike in most studio or in-house situations I have the luxury of time.

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What is the worst thing about being a designer?

I’d have to say dealing with projects being derailed for what ever reason. Some of the work that I’m most proud of – designs with a real innovation in their function and use – I’ve had the most difficulty seeing through to being produced.

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What or who are your major influences?

I am probably, more than anything else, influenced by the ideas of modernism – and the leading modernists themselves. While many people regard the edict of “form follows function” as an outmoded cliche (for years now we’ve heard second-rate design academics trumpeting its demise), I think it’s actually a concept of great subtlety and nuance – perhaps the one truly profound idea underpinning three dimensional design. it’s both a matter of holding that idea in both it’s original and subsequent historic context, and that of interpretation in the context of 21st century design.

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What is the process behind what you do?

I guess the one thing that is consistent about my design process is that it begins with sketching.  And I’m particularly fond of huge 1:1 scale drawings. From this point the methodologies vary a lot. The big change in recent years has been 3d CAD and the affiliated technologies of rapid prototyping. I used to build my prototypes by hand whereas now most components can be machined or CNC cut, or grown. I really love these technologies for the way they enhance the whole designing/prototyping process. Also the freedom they bring, allowing for ongoing experimentation and fine adjustments.

Visit Charles Wilson’s website – here.

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