“Design has a lot of power within the world. It’s alarming to know that some of these issues very rarely feature within the popular discourse of the industry. Issues such as mental health, sustainability and our constantly expanding material culture.”
What is Bright Potato?
Bright Potato is a creative multidisciplinary design studio set up and run by Diego Martinez Pereira (Spain) and David Beirne (Ireland) and is based in west London.
For us, design is the constant questioning of relationships that are continually evolving over second of every day, and our aspirations to create work to progress positive development among these relationships between people, places and objects. The studio works across furniture, lighting, lifestyle products and design instillations.
Of course, humour is also an essential part of the character of who we are and our creative process, giving our name another level of meaning: the "bright" is for Spain i.e. Diego and the "potato" is for Ireland i.e. David.
"This is the type of design that people intuitively respond to as exciting and new, and concurrently this is the type of design that has the most power to make a change."
What makes your practice and style disruptive?
We strongly believe that the best designs are those that adapt to the needs of each particular instance, take a familiar object or process and give it that little bit of an extra push toward the boundary of what it currently is. In doing so, we can create something that is a glorious balance between the comfort of the familiar and the excitement of the new. This is the type of design that people intuitively respond to as exciting and new, and concurrently this is the type of design that has the most power to make a change.
Our approach to any project and our creative process through it, irrespective of type or scale, is to find the correct balance of experimental creative development of materials and concepts, and pragmatic engineering and production integration to meet project budgets, timeframes and expectations. This basically equates to us "eating, sleeping and living" our projects to ensure we are satisfied that the project meets our standard of physical and poetic simplicity and innovation.
Describe your most consistent sources of disruptive inspiration
Music is definitely one of the most emotive influences as it has the ability to create some of the purest forms of empathetic connections between musician and all who can hear the music. It is this ability of music to provide bound-less connection that is simply infectious. For us this just stimulates our aspirations towards reaching new levels of connection and understanding of our work.
We are both fans of a nice variety of music, from the blues rock of Rory Gallagher to the jazz of Ray Charles, psychedelic rock from the Beatles to Pink Floyd, Bowie to Pearl Jam, folk from Dylan to The Tallest Man on Earth, to Flight of the Concords, the classical and electronic of Radiohead, daft punk, Aphex Twin and everything in between.
Naturally nature is an influence to most designers, and we are no exception. Every shape, material, and processes that exists in the natural world is simply awe inspiring. As a resource for direct inspiration, the natural world is simply second to none. There is an interesting direction within the industrial design work to actively seek and mimic both processes and material properties found in nature, to design and engineering for real world problems.
Photography is also an interesting influence for us, especially considering we live in the Instagram era where everybody has become their own photojournalist. We’re not quite sure what effect this is having on the perceived importance or value of the photograph as an art medium and the skill of a photographer.
What industry pioneers paved the way for your practice?
There are many pioneering idols, past and present, from the world of art, design and craft that have certainly inspired and enlightened us though the forms and techniques of their works. These include Dieter Rams, Hans J Wegner, Charles & Ray Eames, Thomas Heatherwick, Jaris Larrman, Pininfarina, Miguel Milá, Eileen Gray, Joseph Walsh, Barber Osgerby, Raw Edges and Robin Day. Each one has something special.
“Design has a lot of power within the world. It’s alarming to know that some of these issues very rarely feature within the popular discourse of the industry...”
How do you think your work connects with people and communities?
I think some of the purest form of connections we can make are based on honesty, sincerity and an informed critical or productive opinion, this is the basis of all strong relationships and trust. We try to create objects that have a strong sense of integrity to the concepts and ideas from which they have been created, so that this will carry through to way our work is received and understood by people.
We recently launched a chair which connected with the emotions of the user. This chair was inspired by a painting representing the life as a progressive line with its ups and downs. The chair was showcasing the line in the whole concept and the user would experience these feelings and the design idea.
What works are you most proud of?
Over our career I would say..
PEG: Innovative simply concept design - Installations 100%design 2014, Clerkenwell 2015.
FLOW: Emotional design - Installation Salone Satellite 2017
MANGLE: Search for reforestation solutions and disruptive design in the cities.
How do you balance being commercial with authenticity?
Although the commercial area has plenty of solutions, there is always a way to remain original, offering creative and innovative solutions which may adequate better to certain allocations and being commercial too.
There is definitely a difference in the requirements for commercial and self-directed works, that is not to say one is better than the other. Each usually provides challenges that in their own right. Self-directed works require a different type and quantity of works usually involving the critical evaluation of an idea and development of that idea to enable it to be evaluated for its merits.
"The design world has been very affected by the open sourcing which has given the possibility to have free access to software and technologies that support creative businesses."
Since you started your career, what has been the biggest change to your industry and what changes do you see happening?
The easy access and implementation of new digital technologies and global scaled business through the internet, YouTube tutorials, ebay and Amazon. These are avenues that have expanded a huge growth in the past 5 years, allowing us to increase the scope of our creativity, into different areas that weren't easy to access before.
The expansion of the industry into all sectors and the ease at which one transfers skills from one area to another has also impacted onto the design world. The design world has been very affected by the open sourcing which has given the possibility to have free access to software and technologies that support creative businesses.
What’s the hardest personal challenge you’ve had to overcome?
There are several challenges that pop into my head, every project is a challenge; although, the hardest one has probably been the exhibition at the Salone Satellite in Milan, April 2017. On this occasion, we managed to deliver the design from the sketch book to the show in less than two months, but happily the result was magnificent.
How has your experience helped your career and your work?
It’s given me a better understanding of the market, the people and how to improve our technique in-order to deliver a better service in a shorter period of time, although creative works sometimes take longer to find the best solution.
What are you currently working on?
We are developing new projects for the lighting and furniture industry and commercial products. Some of them will be showcased in Milan 2018.
All interviews are directly penned by the disrupters.
Edited by Maria Micu