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In discussion with Barry Jenkins


Design Guild Mark - July 21, 2022 - 0 comments

Barry Jenkins, director at design practice Broome Jenkins, was one of the minds behind Fourfold, a 2022 Design Guild Mark winner and recipient of the Jonathan Hindle Prize in the Furniture category.

Broome Jenkins have many years of experience designing mainly contract furniture for leading manufacturers throughout the UK, Europe, Scandinavia and Far East.

Designed for Ocee International, Fourfold suited Broome Jenkins’ approach very well, which aims to solve real technical problems and develop new products that are useful, efficient and commercial.

We caught up with Barry to find out about his career in design.

Who is your design hero?

It is hard to say for sure, although I think it must be between Charles Eames or Dieter Rams simply because of the impact they made and how enduring their work is.

When did you first decide you were going to be a designer?

A creative career was likely for me from a fairly early age, although Architecture was the closest profession that encompassed the things I was interested in. However, I had a good Art Teacher and well-informed Careers Teacher at school. Between them, they introduced me to the degree courses available and the careers that could follow.

What was your first big break in the industry?

I think the earliest major influence on me, that remains with me today was the experience of working with Rodney Kinsman at OMK in the early 1980’s. It was a very busy time for OMK and I learned a lot in a very short space of time. Apart from Rodney, I was the only other designer and at that time, a recent graduate.

What was the first product you ever designed?

The first product where I had a significant involvement was Transit Seating for BAA whilst at OMK. Designed by Rodney Kinsman and Peter Glynn Smith it was for the then new airside lounges at Gatwick Airport. It won a Design Council Award and gave OMK a new direction, to become a major manufacturer of concourse seating.

What do you enjoy about being a designer?

Problem solving, inventing and variety. It is a great privilege to be in a position where you can make a visible difference to people’s lives and for your work to be seen in the background every day, whether it’s a website, a building or piece of furniture.

Which design are you most proud of?

I think there is always a tendency to choose your latest design because it is fresh in your mind and the culmination of experience. However, I would say right now, Fourfold because of its authenticity. I would also say Hotbox4 because it leverages our understanding of the workplace and Venue as it is a new venture for us.

What is your creative process? How do you get in the mood to design something?

I don’t think I have to be in any mood to design, because I have been working for a long time and it defines who I am. As far as process, then it depends on the project and client. Absorbing the brief over time, possibly followed by more formal summary of key points may then trigger ideas. Finding a direction is always a challenge and then sketching, models and experimentation are always part of the process regardless of how it starts.

What is the most frustrating aspect of your job?

Navigating the decision-making process within client organizations and maintaining the momentum of a project can be challenging. It is right that due process is followed, however efficiency is increasingly vital in terms of time and resources used and seizing an opportunity in a competitive market.

What influences you?

Everything is a useful influence. Nothing should be off limits to a designer. Ultimately designers of any discipline are designing for people, so every aspect of our lives is a useful insight or influence.

Is there a product you wish you’d designed?

There are designs that I admire, such as the Landi Chair by Hans Coray, or the Vitsoe Storage system by Dieter Rams or the Aluminum Group by Charles Eames. Despite the expansion of the Design Industry and its impact on industry, the classics from the 20th century stand out as not only pioneering or innovative but enduring and less style conscious.

For more information about Broome Jenkins, go to https://www.broomejenkins.com/ 

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