He won six Chicago Athenaeum Good Design Awards – the International Design Awards and many other awards for his innovative design creations. His humbleness is infectious. Focused, creative and imparting knowledge to his students, Josh Owen believes one’s work should become one’s passion.
Josh Owen the New York based designer speaks to Johnny D about his journey for Design Trends.
Johnny D: A Professor, a Chairperson of the Industrial Design Department at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the Owner of a Design Studio – Josh Owen LLC – How do you juggle your daily hours?
Josh Owen: The line between work and pleasure is blurry when your work is your passion. I move between these roles rather fluently because they are often intertwined. As a designer, I bring my experience into the classroom on a regular basis to enlighten students about the state of the art. As an educator, I bring the perspective of academic thinking to my clients in the respective industries.
To keep my head straight, I get up early every morning, put on my running gear and run for four or five miles along the Erie Canal; rain or shine…or in deep snow as the case may be. It not only keeps me fit and healthy but also enlightens my creativity surrounded in nature.
JD: Having being awarded six times Chicago Athenaeum Good Design Awards, the International Design Awards, nomination for the Chrysler Award for Innovation in Design – just to name a few. Please enlighten Design Trends in brief about your “Award winning Innovations and Designs”?
JO: Winning awards means your work has been reviewed by your peers – industry professionals who agree that the problems you’ve addressed were done so with rigor and with the betterment of mankind in mind. Winning an award provides any individual the much needed adrenaline to be more creative, diligent and excel further in life.
JD: You have designed Furniture, Lighting and Products that have been showcased in Tokyo, London, Milan, Paris, New York and other parts of the USA – Which was your most memorable experience? Reasons in brief.
JO: There have been so many wonderful opportunities to communicate projects in critical venues. One of my favorites was visiting the Venice Biennale and finding hundreds of my SOS Stools scattered throughout the Arsenal shipyards. They were under heavy use and in some ways anonymous in the landscape of people moving through the fairgrounds, enjoying the architectural expositions. I happened to have my son with me on that trip and it was special for me to share my work with him in this scale and the location.
> SOS Stools for Casamania at the Venice Biennale of Architecture
JD: Your design works have found prestigious place in the Permanent Design Collections in Museums like the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Denver Art Museum, the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Montreal, the National Museum of American Jewish History, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Taiwan Design Museum – Please elaborate the feelings to be in the august List of Designers of the World.
JO: It is a humbling feeling to be included in such prestigious collections. It reminds me that it is a privilege and big responsibility to be a contributor to a larger dialogue in the history of design. I am honored to think that others view my work in this way.
JD: As a designer, what goes in the mind while designing any new product? Please explain the branding process from a designer’s point of view.
JO: In my opinion, a good design is the byproduct of intellectual elegance. This means that addressing any problem is about understanding the right questions to ask in a rigorous process of inquiry. Ultimately, one follows the path of that discovery, reducing and refining the answers until there are no questions left and the solution feels as if it has always been clear.
The brand message, in its best incarnation is usually delivered from the perspective of the industry partner. Creating projects which emote a sophisticated brand identity is complex activity that comes from the partnership between the designer and the manufacturer.
> Lella Vignelli, Massimo and Josh Owen at Wanted Design in New York
> Hose Lamp at the Denver Art Museum
> CD Lamp in Milan during Designweek
> Knock-off Lamp at Gallery Triode in Paris
> Cube Jigger for Kikkerland installation with Sisley, Surface for Art Basel, Design Miami
> Stoop Bench for DuPont Corian commissioned for Design Philadelphia
Photo Courtesy: The Designer