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Ross Lovegrove - Lovegrove Studio

31st Jan 2014

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MmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmMmRoss Lovegrove is a designer and visionary who’s work is considered to be at the very apex of stimulating a profound change in the physicality of our three-dimensional world.

Inspired by the logic and beauty of nature, Lovegrove's design possess a trinity between technology, materials science and intelligent organic form, creating what many industrial leaders see as the new aesthetic expression for the 21st century. A deeply human and resourceful approach is continually seen in his designs which project an optimism and innovative vitality in everything Lovegrove touches, from cameras to cars to trains, aviation and architecture.

Born 1958 in Cardiff, Wales, Lovegrove graduated from Manchester Polytechnic with 1st Class BA Hons Industrial Design in 1980 and Master of Design of Royal College of Art, London in 1983.

In the early 1980s, Lovegrove worked as a designer for Frog Design in West Germany on projects such as the Walkman for Sony and Computers for Apple. He later moved to Paris as consultant to Knoll International and then author of the highly successful Alessandri Office System.

Invited to join the Atelier de Nimes along with Jean Nouvel and Phillipe Starck, consulting to amongst others Cacharel, Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Dupont.

Returning to London in 1986 he has completed projects for amongst others Airbus Industries, Kartell, Ceccotti, Cappellini, Idee, Moroso, Luceplan, Driade, Peugeot, Apple Computers, Issey Miyake, VitrA, Motorola, Biomega, LVMH, Yamagiwa Corporation, Tag Heuer, Hackman, Alias, Herman Miller, Artemide, Japan Airlines and Tokyo Ito Architects in Japan.

Winner of numerous international awards his work has been extensively published and exhibited internationally including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Guggenheim Museum NY, Axis Centre Japan, Pompidou Centre Paris and the Design Museum in London, when in 1993 he curated the first permanent collection. His work is held in permanent collections of various design museums around the world including Museum of Modern Art in New York, Design Museum in London and Vitra Design Museum Weil Am Rhein, Basel, CH.

Domus Loves caught up with the design master himself...

Ross, what inspired you to start a career in design?

As a child, I had the creative skills to imagine, visualise and then communicate ideas and thoughts, which naturally led me to the three-dimensional world of design. For me, design is a wonderful profession in which we create things that have never existed before.

Tell us about your studio in Notting Hill

It goes back 20 years when I bought an old warehouse in Powis Mews, which at the time was considered a no-go area. No one ever dared venture down there – it was too dangerous. However, I was fortunate to live around the corner on Powis Terrace, in the basement of Hockney House, sharing the building with then-model Nick Kamen and architect Tchaik Chassay. The area was so interesting with such a brilliant, creative energy and rawness to it that we decided to stay put and base Ross Lovegrove there. My wife, the architect Miska Miller Lovegrove, converted the building into the modern 6,000 sq ft studio and home it is today, with access from both Powis Mews [studio] and Powis Terrace [home].

What do you love about the area?
This little pocket still feels like my own personal enclave, which I love, despite the obvious gentrification that’s happened around us. Notting Hill remains a fantastic relaxed place with a brilliant sense of community. It has everything – a true mix of beautiful parks, elegant villas, good coffee, some glamour and some grunge mixed with real people who hustle and bustle around Portobello.

What’s been your career highlight?
I don’t really dwell on career highlights as I try to lean forwards, creating things which elevate in terms of contemporary relevance and potential. My work takes me into different spheres of activity all over the world, which I love. Working with VitrA in Istanbul on bathroom design was especially enriching – I visited every month for eight years. The Istanbul Collection became a design icon there. 

Do you have any career ambitions you still want to fulfill?
Of course. I have many ongoing objectives and ambitions. I’m currently working with Nike in the US on various new technologies while also concentrating on my upcoming show at the Pompidou Centre in 2015, following Frank Gehry. This will be a major moment for my career where I will show my works in architecture, design, materials, technology, transportation and sculpture, and new, emerging processes in the digital world.

What does design mean to you?
Design is a wonderful profession because we create things that have never existed before. I do not differentiate the cultural value of designing a chair or a car… For me, living with creative possibility is important.

Does your work often take you abroad?
I am a sculptor of technology and this takes me into different spheres of activity all over the world.

What’s in store for 2014?
My 2014 will begin in the Middle East where I will be in discussions about designing a ‘spaceship’ of grid villas outside Mecca. Then there’s my house in Poland, an extended 15th-century site onto which we have added a huge extension that will house a new composite staircase. There will also be the launch of a new lighting range for Artemide and Philips, and furniture for Moroso, Knoll, Vondom and Neal Feay. I will also release a new book, and  plus lots of other projects that are in the pipeline from telephones to jewellery to a new car. It’s going to be a big year!

What advice would you give to young designers?

Think for yourself and learn all the skills possible in order to liberate your mind; there are no rules. Remember that innovation is such a wonderful lifegiving asset to have, all the while not forgetting the planet and the impact of what you create.

What design trends can you foresee?
I don’t foresee trends… I'm not in the fashion business…. People like me run at the front anyway and don’t really look around us too much!

If you weren’t working in design, what would you be doing?
I’m an earth creature and so if I had any time I would probably curate a book on my African art collection. I’m also keen to make the world’s first carbon-fibre house, somewhere like Kyoto or even LA.

What inspires you on a daily basis?
My staff and my studio – everything that I see around me and that I surround myself with is so uplifting. And after all these years, one of my favourite things is still to go to the Tabernacle for a cappuccino with my sketchbook.

View Ross Lovegrove on the Domus Nova Design Guide

Ross Lovegrove, Lovegrove Studio, 21 Powis Mews W11;