Last week, I chaired a panel event at New Designers with three of the 70 young designers the Design Council has identified as Ones to Watch, and was lucky enough to meet Felix Faire – a passionate and fascinating young man obsessed with the intersection of music and design. Through his project, Contact, any physical interaction with a table or hard surface generates vibrations that are manipulated and transformed into an acoustic and optical performance. Felix Faire originally studied architecture, but as a lifelong musician he became more fascinated with experiences that move between our perceptions of space, music and visuals. Felix’s project was selected in the Rethinking Reality category alongside James Molkenthin’s lungo Kettle which gives blind and partially sighted people assurance, control and a sense of normality in their homes and Caroline Claisse’s experimental exhibition designs inspired by the work of prominent surrealist artists including Andre Breton and Man Ray.
What’s the most important thing to know about you?
From what I’ve seen, it sounds like I have synaesthesia… but possibly not.
What inspires your work?
Finding connections between experiences or subjects that not many others have explored. Equally seeing people pushing other creative boundaries in new and exciting ways.
Talk me through your design and making process.
My architectural education has generally taught me to approach and analyse a problem from as many angles as possible before refining a core theoretical concept with which to design into. The other approach that I have been trying lately is more exploratory and playful. Applying the same interests or concepts to lots of different media (music, drawing, computational design) and often coming up with something in the process that I might never have otherwise considered.
What’s your favourite part of the process?
The initial concept and hand sketches are great fun but I don’t think anything compares to the sense of achievement and sheer levels of childish excitement from building or playing with a first interactive prototype. At this point the potential of a project suddenly comes to life and usually kickstarts a whole new wave of ideas and directions.
What’s your favourite tool and why?
Maths… or a guitar. Both can make amazing things happen if you hold them the right way.
Tell me about a really good day and a really bad day in the life of Felix Faire.
Really good days fly by in a frenzy of ideas or intense and inspired making sessions that involve a lot of moving about and ideally at least three senses. Moving from a pencil sketch into code is an invigorating process where I can sink hours of excited concentration without even realising. Really bad days (and nights) are spent in a dark room trying to fix hydras of inexplicable bugs that fill you with doubts about what the hell you are even doing. They tend to follow really good days.
What defines good design?
Sensitivity, ingenuity and Helvetica.
What are you most proud of?
Probably my answer to the first question.
What advice would you give to an aspiring designer?
Never stop learning new ways to create and never ever think your ‘discipline’ has a boundary.
What did it mean to you to be selected as one of the Design Council’s Ones To Watch?
Having seen so many incredible student projects recently it was truly an honour and a wonderful surprise.
And finally, what’s your favourite colour?
Further reading for the especially geeky:
Having established confessions of a design geek in 2010, Katie Treggiden has gone on to a career in design journalism, writing for titles such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, Elle Decoration, Stylist, Design Milk and Ideal Home. In 2014, she launched Fiera, an independent magazine dedicated to discovering new talent at the world’s design fairs. Her second book, Makers of East London, was published in 2015.
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