Sebastian Bergne Answers Despoke’s Questions

What made you want to become a designer in the first place?
Making, drawing and “inventing” things was always what I was best at as a child. Dyslexia meant I had trouble with academic subjects. For me it was a natural progression to become a designer.

Where did you study design?
I did a foundation course at the Central School of Art and Design followed by a degree in Industrial Design (engineering) at the same. I then followed this with a MDes at the Royal College of Art. Graduating in 1990 with distinction.

What was the first thing you designed?
The first thing I designed that went into mass production was a folding alarm clock. It actually started life as a short student project in about 1998 and through a complicated chain of events made it into production with a Hong Kong company in about 1990.

How do you define good design?
There are many ways an object can make you smile. Familiarity, surprise, beauty, satisfaction, pride, simplicity, humour or wonder. If an object can stimulate a smile whilst or even because of performing its function, it is well designed.

What would you be if not a designer?
A cook. Thanks to my wife, I have become very interested in food, cooking and indeed how design, eating and drinking are linked.
Which design of yours are you most proud of and why?
To be honest, I am proud of many of my projects. Each project has its own very different story and the end result is usually the best achievement that was possible within the context of the project. Each one is an achievement in itself.

Anything in your career you wish you’d done differently?

Which designers do you most admire?
I admire designers who continue to have a broad and a consistantly innovative approach to their work over many many years. Keeping a fresh and open spirit throughout a carer is the hardest thing in design.

Which product do you wish you’d designed/do you think is an example of good design?
There are many that I wish I had designed, but one or two off the top of my head are Jasper Morrison’s Glow Ball (biggest size), Perpetual calendar by Enzo Mari, the Iphone (I know !) and Achille Castiglioni’s Spirale ash tray (is almost enough of a reason to take up smoking again!)

Tell me about your design style at home?
At home I have a mixed / “collage” type style. From a Basque wedding chest, victorian arm chairs, a few of my own prototypes, the odd piece from IKEA to serious design classics. (Not forgetting the odd piece picked off a skip).

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