We, as the Designer Interviews ("DI") had the distinct pleasure and opportunity to interview award-winning, most creative and innovative Sasank Gopinathan ("SG").
Sasank Gopinathan is an Industrial Designer with an eye for eye catching visuals and a penchant for creating works with interesting quirks. Coming from India, Sasank strives to take part in the emerging product design field in his country, by creating a visual language that would be distinctly Indian but undeniably global in reach and appeal. Outside his job as a furniture designer, Sasank also explores his creative side in typography, iconography, and automotive design, having won awards and nominations in design competitions, both inside and outside his work.
Sasank Gopinathan Designs
We are pleased to share with you original and innovative design work by Sasank Gopinathan.
Designer Interview of Sasank Gopinathan:
DI: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
SG : I have always been drawing since I was a child, and even participated in a couple of competitions in school. I decided to become a designer when I was 11 years old. It is also around this time that I created my own imaginary company and started designing products under my “company name”.
DI: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
SG : Karimeen Incorporated (or Karimeen Inc.) is a budding company which currently features the design and sales of T-shirts themed on the state of Kerala in India. I had been conducting freelance work under my own name for many years, but I recently decided to integrate both my company and freelance service under the same company name. I also have a day-job as a furniture designer in a Malaysian corporate furniture company, where I’ve been working for the last 5 years now (Bristol Technologies). I work in a team that designs and develops seating systems.
DI: What is "design" for you?
SG : Design to me is the essence of good living. The ability to discern the benefits of good design can help improve the society as a whole. Good engineering keeps the world running, but good design can change the world.
DI: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
SG : I have always been interested in cars, and therefore, have loved exploring ideas for vehicle and transportation design. Working as a furniture designer, I’ve come to learn and love furniture design. As I explore new fields of design, I get a fascination to work on them. My recent fascination has been on translating architecture to minimalist art.
DI: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
SG : My first job was at a Steel company and I was tasked with designing modules for stainless steel kitchens. My first freelance job was to design an electric taxi platform for a company in Madrid.
DI: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
SG : My current favourite technology is 3D printing, as it is still a nascent technology, and it has already shown several possible applications. I strongly believe that in the next few years, evolutions in 3D printing tech will start revolutions in manufacturing and other fields.
DI: When do you feel the most creative?
SG : I usually feel most creative at night, with a warm-light table lamp and a good musical track in the background. That is the best moment for me to work on my designs.
DI: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
SG : I tend to look into the visual impact and emotional connect first before I work in the functional aspects of a design. Some people would say form should follow function, but I feel that form is sometimes just as important as function.
DI: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
SG : Several. Mostly a mix of enthusiasm, excitement, frustration, anger, concentration and bliss.
DI: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
SG : Seeing your designs realized feels as good as cooking and then eating that perfect meal. It’s a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.
DI: What makes a design successful?
SG : The ability for a design to function with minimal or no explanation, and rather it speaks for itself through its form and function, is what in my mind makes a successful design. The user should feel intuitiveness to the design and be able to use it with ease.
DI: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
SG : When I judge a design, the first point is: form+function. Can I visualize the function of the design/product purely from the form? If I can, it is a good design. If I cannot, is the design meant to conceal its function for a reason, like delusive looks? If yes, it is a good design. If the mentioned criteria are not met, then I would consider the design bad upon first judging it. If there are reasons that have been justified by the designer on why he/she made the design so (like cost, resource limitations, specific rules/requirements), I could still change my mind and consider it a good design.
DI: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
SG : In today’s world of degrading environments, pandemics, and stressful workspaces, design needs to evolve in order to achieve the following things: 1- Bring a sense of ease or comfort to the user, or support the user for whatever task/chore he/she is doing. 2 – Improve efficiency of the task in order to gain maximum results with minimum effort. 3 – Ensure that the environmental sustainability needs are met, and to design responsibly with a less “consumerist” approach and a more “needs” approach.
DI: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
SG : As the general populace realizes the impact of ecological sustainability and their role in contributing to pollution via consumerism, design is also evolving to ensure that consumption can be made sustainable and eco-friendly. Recycling, upcycling, reusing, and biodegradability are all the latest themes in which we produce designs, and in the upcoming years, I believe it will transform from a trend to a norm.
DI: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
SG : My inspiration comes several sources, from design studios like Nendo, architecture studios like BIG architects, any form of music that connects with me emotionally, as well as other fields like science and technology. I have discovered several artists, performers, musicians and public speakers on YouTube that have inspired ideas within me. Sometimes even looking out at nature or my environment can inspire me to create.
DI: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
SG : My design style would probably be best described as “quirky”. Most of my works tend to have an oddity about them, or something ‘cute’. I feel I’ve sometimes never grown and my inner child is evolving skills to better represent those basic emotional connections into a style. My approach to design is strongly based on visual emotion and function. The design first and foremost needs to express rather than impress.
DI: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
SG : Even though I am an Indian, I’ve lived most of my life in South-East Asia, particularly in Malaysia and Singapore. I would say that the cultural heritage of the country of origin and the countries I have resided in, affect my design aesthetics. Living in Malaysia has given me more exposure to my field of product design and the applications in varied fields, while living in India has given me a perspective on not losing focus on the functionality of design, and to keep things as simple as possible in order to navigate through the chaos.
DI: Can you talk a little about your design process?
SG : In a brief timeline: Eat, sleep, think… draw… listen to some music… draw some more. Idea seems interesting…do research, watch videos, watch unrelated videos for fun, resume ideations. Stumbled onto some good music… ideas start flowing, more concrete images in the mind. Nights pass, it is dark, warm light from my desk lamp, deconstruction of the main concept, mind map of deconstruction, filtering out the good points and addressing the bad, develop and evolve design/idea. Take a look online to see if idea exists. If the basic concept is there, what makes mine different? More great music… Have some snacks, think about possible outcomes. Develop final concept on paper, translate to 3D and assess feasibility.
DI: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
SG : 1 – Wacom Intuos: it has been a faithful friend and its ease of use and design quality is above par. 2 – Sony waterproof NWZ WS walkman: the intuitive buttons, the sleek design, and it’s waterproof. 3 – Carving knife with Xacto blade: works like a pen, super sharp, great for sculpting. 4 – Shell chair originally designed by Hans Wegner: classic, elegant, comfortable. 5 - TERTIAL lamp by IKEA: affordable, so easy to use, classic design, a great friend when sketching.
DI: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
SG : Always keep learning and keep your mind open to new ideas. Be prepared to learn or be inspired from any medium that comes your way, be it a book or a painting or a building. Always be curious and inquisitive.
DI: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
SG : If you are not a creative person, a career in design is probably a bad idea. As a creative person, being a designer is a crazy world of ups and downs, moments of bliss and accomplishments, other moments of depression and failure. But I consider this quite similar to life with a little added spice. Through thick and thin, my love for design lives on.
DI: What is your "golden rule" in design?
SG : Be open to new perspectives, but make sure that you and your design are honest to each other. If there is no honesty between the idea and the result, and if you start getting self-biased, your design may most likely not work. Conviction follows prior self-critique and the assessment of critiques from trusted sources/professionals/peers.
DI: What skills are most important for a designer?
SG : One word: Adaptability. If I may use an analogy, the creative process of a designer is almost similar to that of an improvisational comedian. You need to be able to adapt to new inputs and situations, and produce a positive solution/idea in a short timeline. Being able to adapt to new environments, new problems, and new rules, I feel are crucial for a designer.
DI: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
SG : I use pencil/ballpen and paper, sometimes a fine-nib pen to do tiny drawings. For the digital drawings and 2D I use a Wacom intuos, and work on Photoshop, Illustrator & SketchbookPro. I use Solidworks & Keyshot for my 3D work.
DI: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
SG : Honestly, when I’m fully engaged in design, managing other daily tasks gets hard, so I don’t always manage my time well, despite trying to maintain a daily routine. Priority usually goes to deadlines.
DI: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
SG : It can vary depending on the scale and detail of the project. Some of my projects have been just a month or two months long, while others have been up to 2-3 years.
DI: Who are some of your clients?
SG : I’ve worked with clients in the fields of transportation, public mobility & consumer products. They’re mainly based out of Belgium, Spain and Hong Kong.
DI: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
SG : I enjoy designing products (consumer products, furniture, etc.), as I’ve been doing that as a career and as a hobby for years. I also love designing cars and vehicles, and I’ve been doing that as a kid as well.
DI: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
SG : As I’ve learned in life, future plans are unpredictable, though one can aim at a trajectory. I wish to eventually run a highly influential design studio with my own distinctive design language or, even better, run a vertically integrated manufacturing company which can help provide well designed products to lower-income groups and farmers, in order to improve their lives and livelihoods.
DI: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
SG : When I work in my day job as a furniture designer, I work in a team, while back home I tend to develop more conceptual personal projects by myself, though I do also work with some peers and co-develop designs for freelance projects
DI: How can people contact you?
SG : I can be approached on my behance profile (https://www.behance.net/sasankg ) or via email ( firstname.lastname@example.org )