To mark this year's World Design Day we catch up with our Senior Designer, Sarah Foster-Smith, to find out what inspired her to become a designer and what being a professional designer really entails.
Sarah has worked for Forbo Flooring Systems for 9 years, and is based at our Tessera carpet tile production plant in Bamber, near Preston.
With a degree in textile design specialising in woven fabrics and a masters degree in textile technology, Sarah has a long history in the design of flooring, including our best selling Tessera Layout and Outline ranges, and most recently Tessera Earthscape.
What inspired you to become a designer?
I am passionate about creativity and craft, to me design is as much about making something as it is about conceptualising. The challenge of visualising in 3D form combined with producing the most creative solution from individual elements, all while remaining on brief, is still as exciting today as it has always been.
As the theme for World Design Day is ‘Be Professional’, what do you think the term ‘professional designer’ means?
‘Be Professional’ embodies a sense of progressive creative leadership: the ability to challenge the status quo through lateral solutions, enabling projects to be driven forward, while ensuring that the ‘form and function’ balance is rigorously maintained – all to ensure creatively elevated and innovative new products are developed.
Explain your creative process. What steps do you take when you’re working through a new project?
Each project begins with research, we look at emerging commercial interior styles, colour direction from a wide variety of markets, global lifestyle and attitude trends and of course, new technical developments in yarn and machinery. From the research we then create a brief which covers all technical, aesthetic and aspirational aspects of the project.
We design using all of the inspirational material gathered, experiment with yarn construction, colour, shape, scale, lustre and levels of texture, which lead to the creation of prototype samples. The prototypes help us to carry out extensive research in different geographical markets and specialisms. Once we have selected a shortlist of styles and concepts, we create colourwork and finally deliver the product to market ensuring it meets the brief both technically and aesthetically.
How do you get unstuck creatively?
Creative thinking is always about finding the best solution within a brief. The technical constraints of designing flooring are extremely tight, so we are well used to creative problem solving in order to be able to effectively design new and innovative products.
Can you explain what your typical day looks like and why did you decide to move into the world of flooring?
There is no typical day for me; every day is different. That is one of the things that I really enjoy about my job.
Quite simply, I am a professional textile designer and flooring is a great medium in which to practice. In general, the impact of flooring in interior schemes is rather underrated. However, good product in a well-designed installation will contribute profoundly to any interior scheme.
Since working at Forbo, what project/design are you most proud of?
Since I started working at Forbo I have been involved with many projects, so it is too difficult to choose, as everything I have worked on has been rewarding in its own way. It is always the projects I am currently working on that I am most passionate about.
What do you enjoy most about working at Forbo?
Forbo is a great company to work for, its global reach offers fantastic potential for the product we design. However, if I had to pick one, it is the brilliant colleagues I work with on a daily basis throughout the organisation that make every day so very enjoyable. During the current restrictions these interactions are especially apparent by their absence.