A few weeks ago we featured some pretty cool coasters on the site that you went absolutely gaga over. Who knew coasters could produce such a reaction in us?! Clive Roddy was the designer of these cool coasters and since we’d already featured his work in the past (with these awesome wooden rings), we decided we needed to ask him a few questions about his work and the inspiration behind it.
Can you tell us how you got into design and how long you’ve been designing?
‘I have always enjoyed making things from a very early age. From Lego and Meccano to rockets and automata toys and even tree houses and underground dens, I was always working on some new project after school or at weekends. My favourite subjects at school (and the only ones I was any good at) were Art and DT (design & technology). This lead me to enrol in a one-year foundation course at my local college where I was allowed almost a free pass to create whatever I wanted using all of their facilities and workshops).
‘After an awesome year of creating, I applied for a university course studying Product Design in Cardiff. I got accepted, and 3 years later I graduated and landed my first proper design job creating flat-packed furniture instructions and the odd design concept, for an upmarket children’s furniture brand. I was grateful for my new job, however it became pretty obvious very quickly that there wasn’t much scope for creativity in the role and I wasn’t really feeling that fulfilled, so I once again started working on my own side projects in my spare time and I guess this has lead me to where I am now’.
While a lot of people can design, very few have the impact that you’ve had. Where on Earth do you grab your inspiration from?
‘It sounds a bit cheesy and it’s cliché but my ideas honestly come from everywhere and anywhere. I have lots and lots of ideas and many of them are terrible. But If I think an idea has potential, I will make a rough sketch or prototype and then usually let it rest for a while and if I still like it I may develop it further’.
Are there designs you think won’t really work but end up being bestsellers (and vice versa)?
‘There are definitely designs that I originally think are ok but then don’t seem to do that well (I call them floppers!) I try and avoid these if I can. And there have also been designs that I thought were a nice idea and then things have gone a bit crazy. Ultimately it is really hard to know upfront which ideas will resonate with people, so once I am at a certain point I just have to put it out there and see what happens. If it’s well received then great, but if it’s a flopper I try not to worry about it too much and move on’.
Where is the best place to brainstorm ideas?
‘I have a few select friends and family members that I brainstorm new ideas with, sometimes at family meals or even between different times zones over Skype. I have found that it definitely helps to gauge the reactions of people you trust when developing new products, as they will be honest with you (sometimes brutally so!). I also have favourite places online that provide loads of inspiration for new ideas as well as a huge notice board in my studio full of post-it note scribbles and sketches so that I can easily see all of these new ideas at a glance’.
What’s the best part of being a designer these days?
‘I still get a massive kick from seeing a rough idea turn into a finished physical product. And I really love getting my hands dirty and actually getting to make stuff. But I would say the best thing about it these days must be the power of the Internet. I love the fact that I get the most random emails from people from all over the world who have seen one of my products somewhere online. Whether it is some lovely person asking you for an interview ;), a famous newspaper or celebrity interested in something you’ve designed or a happy customer who had used one of your rings to propose to his girlfriend – none of these amazing things would have been possible a few years ago’.
What are you working on now, and what can we expect to have in our homes by the end of next year?
‘It’s a secret! Like I said I have many ideas in the pipeline but I am still not 100% sure yet which one I will try and launch next. I am still dealing with my Cacti Coasters at the moment as this seems to be doing pretty well – it’s definitely keeping me busy! I can tell you that I am still working on a small table-top version of my Spoon Lamp (you can currently see a few sneak peek shots of this on my Instagram.) This has been an ongoing project that I have had to leave and then go back to a couple of times. I am hoping to release a very small handmade batch of these next year’.