Designer Interview: Jim Rokos
Jim Rokos is a young British designer with a sharp wit. His “Other Half” pair of wine glasses tests a couple’s ability to cooperate which is a rare trait in product design. That is, Mr. Rokos has managed to appeal to new human emotions that had never been tested in a product such as a wine glass. Rokos has also recently participated in the DesignersBlock at the 2007 Milan Furniture Fair. Shortly after the fair, Jim Rokos was kind enough to give me an interview for Design Crack.
Design Crack: How did you get interested in pursuing design as a career?
Jim Rokos: I was working at a special needs school and needed a degree to qualify as a teacher. With my background in modelmakeing and a product on the market, a degree in industrial design appealed to me. It didn’t go to plan though: I loved design so much that I haven’t gone back to teaching.
Design Crack: How did you begin your career in design?
Jim Rokos: A cat food bowl, with a lid and a pedal, to be operated by the cat. (Think pedal bin for cat’s food.)
Design Crack: What is your design philosophy or methodology, if any, and what inspired this philosophy or methodology?
Jim Rokos: I ask alot of different people questions about what I am doing. The end user is a good start. A friend showed me this children’s book that they had bought for their five year old. It looked fine to me, but her son had disapproved of the book saying it’s bad design! I said, well if the kid says it’s bad, it must be bad! We looked at the book a little longer and concluded that the pictures had no soul.
I often start with brainstorming and then develop some rough ideas until I can test them, then evaluate and then brainstorm around what works and then redevelop ideas until I can test them then evaluate… it goes round and round- I can get quite obsessive actually.
I like to work with other people too. The combined thinking can move ideas forward quickly and get past sticky problems and come up with something that neither individual could have come up with alone.
Design Crack: When you came up with Blindspot project, how did the project come about?
Jim Rokos: I was actually trying to develop products which caused a user to consider the object’s physicality or it’s manufacture or design process. I made these linked glasses as an exploration into this, but they seemed to have the potential to reveal blindnesses in a personal relationship. A psychological project appealed more to me, so I put the ‘object’s physicality’ project on hold. There seem to be more and more of these objects which comment on their own construction appearing.
Design Crack: Was there any interesting pitfalls or struggles you faced in producing the objects for Blindspot?
Jim Rokos: I was thinking about a pair of cocktail glasses that when filled would make a third mixture of the two cocktails. However, my glass maker was getting frustrated with the fiddly shapes and told me, you can’t make this ridiculous merry-go round design!’ He gave me a lot of useful feedback.
Design Crack: Were there any ideas that weren’t realised that you’d wished you’d included?
Jim Rokos: I’d like there to be one for each of the five senses.
Design Crack: Are there any projects that you’re currently working on that you would like to talk about?
Jim Rokos: Yes, but it might be better to keep them to myself a little longer…