It's being held at the spectacular new Central Saint Martin's campus - can you share a defining memory of your time at the college?
At Central I had thorough Industrial Design Engineering training, which enabled me to go on to do an MA at the Royal College of Art. It's where I began to develop my strong belief that design is more than just styling – it's about making something better.
Design education is under intense scrutiny at the moment. If you were able to make two changes to the education system, what would they be?
Firstly, I would make sure that students learn to work with their hands - drawing, building models. Design is for people and it’s essential to keep the user at the heart of everything. Good design is about intuitive use, texture, feeling... these are things that you can only develop properly from working with physical models. At Priestmangoode, we develop full-scale models of all our work, including aircraft interiors and hotel rooms to ensure that our vision translates into user-friendly designs.
I would also encourage better links between design schools and manufacturers, to help students understand how things are made and how to maximise resources in the manufacturing process.
Priestmangoode’s designs have revolutionised the aviation, transport and hospitality industries. What has been your most memorable project & why?
In 2008 we won a long term contract with the world’s largest rolling stock manufacturer based in China to design trains in China and for around the world. Working in China is an incredibly rewarding experience: the scale and ambition of the projects there is unsurpassed, certainly anywhere in the Western world.
Priestmangoode Mercury high speed train concept
You are working with many Chinese companies and recently opened an office there. What’s the best piece of advice that has helped you get established in China?
Cultivate and nurture relationships. Entering the Chinese market is a long-term project; a process of relationship building and cultural understanding and it’s crucial to be sensitive to the cultural differences between our countries. Forming relationships on a personal level before you become business associates is essential. Expecting to win business overnight is unrealistic - business wins aren’t built on reputation and recommendations alone, but from spending time to get to know your clients and understanding their culture and their processes.
Other than impacting your bottom line, what has been the most valuable benefit of exporting overseas?
Learning from, and integrating different processes into our own practice. The Chinese, for instance, work creatively through very different design and development processes and I know we can learn a lot from them. I do wonder sometimes whether the Western approach of developing new products and services in a linear ‘A to B’ process is necessarily the right approach.
Our experience of the Chinese development process is that they operate a much more multi-track approach, developing many solutions simultaneously and picking the best option once they are quite far developed. This approach often results in a speedier resolution to the development process and often a better product or service in the end. We are looking at how a combination of this and our more Western approach could benefit the design process.
Failure is part of the rich mix of life. How have you personally learnt to deal with it in your professional life?
The way I look at it, failure is just part of the process. Sometimes you need to get something wrong before you get it right. Failure is not something negative, it’s essential to success.
#theEdge2012 #failure #comingsoon
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With thanks to Paul Priestman, Co-founding Director of Priestmangoode, a leading multidisciplinary design consultancy specialising in transport, aviation, environment and product design for a roster of significant brands across the globe.
Paul studied Industrial Design at Central Saint Martins and at the Royal College of Art. He was a member of the UK Design Council and Chair of the Design Sector Skills Panel from 2004 to 2006. He was also President of the Design Business Association from 2001 to 2003 and a member of the D&AD Executive from 2005 to 2007. He is currently a member of the Royal College of Art Council. In 2010, Paul was one of 40 delegates on the Prime Minister’s Trade Delegation to China, representing the smallest and most creative company and flying the flag for the British design industry around the world. www.priestmangoode.com