Wednesday, 25 July 2018 08:27

Founder of Cameron Design House, Ian Cameron, discusses his career so far

    Founded by Ian Cameron in 2014, Cameron Design House has become synonymous with unique, contemporary design and refined craftsmanship. Ian has a shared history between the United Kingdom and Finland and has combined the influences of vibrant Central London and the tranquil Nordic countryside into his sculptural pieces.

    Can you please provide us with a description of your professional career?

    I have always been focused on Cameron Design House since leaving university. This is our fifth year in business, and I have been very lucky to spend every day so far designing and manufacturing my own pieces.

    What inspired you to become a lighting designer?

    I saw the ‘light’ after I’d finished studying furniture design and realisation and product design at the London Metropolitan University. I have always enjoyed occupying my hands, building and designing stuff from a young age but it wasn’t until I was done with university that reality hit – I needed to knuckle down and get a job! I didn’t actually gravitate to lighting initially, however, I knew I wanted to do something that was decorative but functional with a strong sculptural element and lighting seemed to have the right combination of all those things. Lighting has given me the opportunity to be artistic, whilst also satisfying my fascination with technical considerations and problem-solving. The more simplistic a design, the more work it takes to perfect and I like that challenge.

    What has been your greatest source of inspiration throughout your career?

    I draw inspiration from literally everywhere – from sci-fi films, to nature and Brutalism; I am constantly fascinated by my surroundings. I have a strong Finnish heritage and I draw a lot of inspiration from Finland as well as my travels abroad. In the past two years I have visited over 10 countries – I think this has really helped me develop my vision and approach to new designs. London is a huge inspiration to me as well – I spend most weekends roaming the streets and galleries soaking up singular details, things as simple as a staircase railing or a crumpled coffee cup.

    How do you approach your projects?

    We always take a design-led approach with the project shaping our process. At Cameron Design House, it’s really important for us to work hand in hand with our clients, providing a bespoke service that perfectly complements the individuality of the project.

    Would you say that you have a design style? If so, how would you describe this style?

    We try to achieve an ethereal sensibility with our designs, one that evokes a pleasant, tranquil feeling. It is true that light naturally draws the eye, so what holds that light should always be visually stunning. Our designs tend to be poised and elegant, almost frozen in time, though this is not always the case. For instance, our Salla pendant is quite imposing, and is designed to be more striking than poised.

    What do you believe is the biggest challenge for today’s designers?

    One of the biggest challenges is ensuring an environmental approach. This is a particularly important consideration in today’s design climate and it’s crucial that any environmental impact is deliberated through all stages of the creative process. Aside from the obvious responsible use of materials etc., our approach is to design products that are lasting, not only in terms of function but also in terms of design.

    What has been your biggest accomplishment to date?

    I’m very proud of the processes we have put in place to ensure that our clients receive the best service, level of design and overall experience possible, from start to finish. We always aim to deliver the best customer service, with a smile and barrel of laughs at the same time.

    What has been your most notable project to date?

    We have worked on several projects, which I am especially proud of. In terms of residential projects, One Hyde Park with Elicyon is an iconic project for us. Working on a range of projects overseas was a particular proud moment for me, you can see our designs in the Hilton Hotel in Minneapolis, Omega store in Paris and Schroeders Investments by Bryant Park in New York.

    Can you talk us through your concept for the Helmi?

    The Helmi, meaning ‘pearl’ in Finnish, was conceived during a fishing trip near my Finnish hometown of Turku. The idea was later developed after I attended the Hayward Gallery opening in London and saw a balloon covered with a net! The Helmi plays with the idea of contrast. A 24-carat gold plated industrial net displays the exquisite ‘catch’ of glass pearls. The glass pearls are all hand-blown in London and the design is available in a variety of colours, with each pearl illuminated by an LED filament bulb.

    Have you witnessed any recurring requests from your clients?

    Our clients regularly request lighting pieces that balance a clean, architectural aesthetic with a delicate finish. They are looking for centrepieces with a sculptural identity rather than lighting that is ornamentally focused.

    Can you please talk us through the concept for the Haara Metsa?

    A direct descendant of the Haara, the Haara Metsa grew organically to form an ambitious chandelier. Designed to be hung vertically like a weeping willow branch, the Metsa is a contemporary statement piece at any size. The cylindrical lanterns are assembled from hand-drawn glass and polished brass, concealing the lighting element and creating a distinctive lighting diffuser that is designed to be admired whether the light is on or off.

    When it comes to lighting design, what do you believe is of utmost importance?

    When designing lighting, it’s incredibly important to put the space first. We consistently fit our designs to our clients’ space, rather than the other way round. Having a strong design ethic is also important in lighting design; we work closely with our clients to ensure the piece complements the architecture and desired feel of their space.

    What advice would you offer to those that are considering a career in design?

    It is crucial to learn how things are made. Designers need to have a true understanding of material qualities, technology and process – not just how designs look. Working in a smaller company will give you more flexibility and a broader experience to develop a variety of skills.

    What do you believe is the biggest challenge for newly-qualified designers?

    It can be a challenge for new designers to join a brand that matches their style, niche and design vision.

    What can we expect to see from you over the next year?

    We have got a really big year ahead of us at CDH starting with an immersive lighting installation collaborating with LA-based Balloon Artist Geronimo for London Design Festival in September. This year we are focusing on creating immersive events and showcasing our creativity across international design spheres, which is very exciting.

    In addition to launching a new piece in collaboration with 2LG Studio, we are expanding our portfolio of residential, hospitality and commercial spaces to include marine projects – I feel like we will have hit another milestone when I see our pieces on superyachts! Visit the CDH x Geronimo installation during London Design Festival, at the Old Truman Brewery – running from 20th to 23rd September.

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