Talking Technology & Design with Florian Dussopt

Monday, 12 October 2015

Part of the benefit of belonging to the Victoria & Albert Museum's youth board, CreateVoice, is the opportunity to meet inspiring people working in all areas of the creative industries. Once a month at CreateInsights, we have a meeting with professionals from the industry who come to discuss with us their business, their ideas and their inspirations; we've met interaction designers, photographers, artists, curators and all kinds of creatives. In September, we were visited by Florian Dussopt, the multi-talented designer behind the studio of the same name.

After working a variety of design jobs in his native France, he decided to move to London for the bigger opportunities. What started off as a month long stay ('I arrived in London and realised I didn't really speak English... oh well!') has become permanent. There are pitfalls - and benefits - of knowing very few people and having very little money as a designer new to a country.
"London is not comfortable, but it keeps you on your toes. I had just moved into a room with no windows - I didn't know if it had been one day, two days... you go a bit crazy, but you get productive."
This windowless first room led him to design the 'Sound Window', mimicking the sounds of a street as heard through an open window - the movement of one plane of glass controlling the volume, and the other the 'channel' of types of sound. 

Much of the work Dussopt is involved with relies on soft humour. For instance, take the Kellogg's Breakfast Inventions he worked on with inventor artist Dominic Wilcox - the soggy-o-meter, the tummy rumble amplifier and the robot spoon, all fully functioning. His biggest inspiration is science, evident from the citrus clock (influenced by the potato-powered bulbs of school experiments, but more elegant), which is 'still magic' to him even now; the fascinating EM Table lights up fluorescent bulbs without contact through the production of a localised electromagnetic field. Exploration of technology's potential is his method, but his goal for the audience is to show them the 'magic' of it; to inspire them to get down on their knees to work out his floating shelf table, or feel a painting through a haptic robot.

He has learnt much of what he knows from the internet, searching for electronics tutorials and learning them himself in order to make his designs function - but it is 'much better to learn from people'. Dussopt studied design with no access to workshops, but has now found that having one in his own studio has helped his design process: whilst admitting that if he'd 'known how painful all these projects would be' he probably 'would never have done them', he maintains that sticking with ideas and experimentation has led him to the right answers (even if they weren't the answers to the question he was initially asking). An idea, he says, is 'just 10%. My mum has great ideas. But it's taking the steps to make it happen.'
"An idea sitting in a drawer is worse than someone stealing your idea."

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