Interview with designer Jose Santa-Clara (JS), regarding views on design, and for the award-winning design Mekanno Chair.

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Interview with Jose Santa-Clara at Monday 11th of March 2013: DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
JS : The inspiration behind my design is the Meccano construction system I used to play with, as a child, in the mid sixties.

DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
JS : First of all, I wanted to design a chair, chairs being one of the most functional objects we use every day. Second, it was for fun: playing with metal strips, nuts and bolts... And last, I but not least, I wanted to revive a childhood memory.

DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
JS : I made no future plans for this design. It was a one-off hobby concept and not planned for production. Although I think that, if demand exists, the manufacture of a small batch could be envisaged.

DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
JS : It took me three or four months to develop the idea, the upscalling of the metal strips and the definition of the basic structure. Then, after production of the aluminium strips, two experimental prototypes were built. I picked the second one (the armchair) as the most 'clean' design and finished a completed prototype. It was kept at my home office for some years, till November 2012, when I finally took some time designing and producing the wood reinforcements that assured a full functional chair.

DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
JS : The design was not commissioned. It was an inspiration.

DI: Is your design being produced or used by another company, or do you plan to sell or lease the production rights or do you intent to produce your work yourself?
JS : I have no commercial intentions. There are no copyrights. Anyone can built a chair like this one. That was the playability principle of the Meccano construction sets: pick the parts, follow your creativity and build the object.

DI: What made you design this particular type of work?
JS : I like chairs. I love Meccano. Using my spare time to create objects is a hobby.

DI: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
JS : Not really.

DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
JS : Anyone that, as a boy, had the good fortune of playing with Meccano, will revive his happy childhood memories.

DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
JS : Well, there are thousands of chair concepts/designs. Do you know any other ressembling this one?...

DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
JS : I could not use the Meccano name, of course, so I tried a 'clin d'oeil' to the brand, keeping the sound of it.

DI: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?
JS : I used no design tools other than the original Meccano metal strips, for downscale experiments.

DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
JS : I think the idea of using Meccano in furniture is quite unusual, of not unique...

DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
JS : I made the first half dozen metal strips from raw aluminum strips I bought at a DIY store. Then the other were comissioned at a local aluminium shop. The leather cushions were ordered at an upholstery repair shop.

DI: What is the role of technology in this particular design?
JS : The design is simple, the frame is a basic isostatic structure, you can do something similar at home if you like. I see no technology in the design...

DI: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
JS : No such thing as research, in the traditional meaning of the word, was carried out. I had the original 50 years old metal strips at home, so I just picked the pieces and started playing.

DI: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
JS : The most challenging problem to solve was the transverse flexibility of the frame. It took some time to find a nice solution.

DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
JS : As a final product, full functional in mid December last year, I thought about testing the originality and publicizing the chair.

DI: What did you learn or how did you improve yourself during the designing of this work?
JS : I think the basic lesson is that a full functional solution for a nice design concept can take time. Creativity comes not when you want; you cannot order it...