CULTIVATING CURIOSITY WITH ZOE NOAKES
What transforms a space into a home, how do we enhance our way of living through design and how can the home environment play a significant role in providing inspiration for designers?
Creating for the home environment or creations which have been influenced by the home have evolved and shifted over the years as the residents needs and trends have changed, and even more so from a year of lockdowns.
ND recently caught up with 2020 Colour In Design Award winner, Zoe Noakes, to gain top tips on being resilience as this designer demonstrated embracing challenges from a year of creating during a crisis.
Why do you have an attraction to designing for the home environment?
Home has been both a difficult and comforting space for me. Throughout my life I’ve spent long periods of time confined to the house due to chronic illnesses and operations. These experiences have given me a deep appreciation of the powerful impact our home environments can have on our mental and physical health.
In university, I resisted specialising in designing for interiors or fashion, instead my focus was on the liminal space between the binary of space and body. A house becomes a home once people dwell there, we become an inseparable thread woven into our domestic landscape.
Have you noticed any new influences to your design or creation process from a year like no other? Has spending more time in our home environments changed your approach at all?
Being at home more has given me more time to read and research, above all, this year has given me time to embrace the potentialities and uncertainties that come from working with the materiality of sensations, thoughts, and ideas.
After a year of social distancing, separated from each other by screens, windows and masks, the lines between public and private space have distorted beyond recognition.
Over the last 12 months I finished my degree and started my masters without stepping foot in a workshop which has really challenged my assumptions about what it means to be a contemporary maker. The reality of not having access to the tools, materials, and space needed to actualise my designs forced me to reconsider how I relate to light and glass here and now. Most recently, I was involved in a collaborative project which explored the notion of space making in Teams and Social Media platforms while trying to articulate the virtual-haptic-optic properties of data and connectivity. My final degree work and ND award submission were presented as a series of photographic lighting experiments to illustrate my architectural ideas at a smaller scale.
What are your predictions on our home environments and designing for living spaces for the future?
That’s a tough one.
The successive lockdowns of the past year have forced us to experience the world as a series of images on a screen; I think that the year ahead will see the demand for crafted objects and surfaces continue to increase.
The need to fill our homes with traces of each other through the marks and meaning embedded within the handmade has already caused a boom in gifting artisan and craft items. As we start to see each other more often, while still unable to hug or shake hands, I think more of us will reach out for something to touch and hand to one another as we relish the renewed joys of gesture and greeting.
Advice on anyone struggling to work from home or for breaking through a creative block?
For me it helps to stop worrying about answers and think about questions and cultivate curiosity.
What works for one person won’t necessary work for the next but going for walks, getting fresh air, having a healthy routine all help build a strong foundation for any creative endeavour.
It’s important for me to have a creative space that I can go to – and most importantly – walk away from when I need to without having to put everything away because that space is needed for something else. If I’m really stuck, I read through my feedback from past work and look that things I want to pick up again or improve on.
Everyone is different and it’s important to find out what works for you.
For the next wave of emerging designers can you share your experience and feelings towards designing during lockdown?
I’ve found it very difficult being away from the buzz of the studio and the thrill of the workshop but it really helped to take a step back and make sure I was ok first and foremost – then approach my design work.
It’s important for me to create a calm environment to do my best work during such a stressful and isolating time. It is hard, but people are resilient! It helped me to get back to basics, remember what made me fall in love with designing and meet the challenge head on.
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on the effects these changes which have formed within society. We have been fascinated have been considering what impact this has had on designers who harness nature has their biggest influence.
We caught up with jewellery designer and Class of ND19 alumni, Florence to find some answers to our questions. The
In 2019 she founded her company, Object Cor ltd, inspired by nature and motivated by tactility. In 2020, Florence intrigued our selection panel and was chosen to be a OYI exhibitor as they were fascinated with this designer’s passion to capture the mundane interactions of the everyday and create a collection which is influenced by the sensory inputs which arise from spending time within nature.
within the nostalgic elements of the outside world, creating a collection which holds the joys and brings a mindful presence to designing with the tactility of nature in mind.