Interview with designer Maria Drugoveiko (MD), regarding views on design, and for the award-winning design World Kids Books Showroom, Retail, Bookstore.

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Interview with Maria Drugoveiko at Thursday 25th of April 2013: DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
MD : The main inspiration came from a business idea itself which was to design a fully operational bookstore using a very small footprint.

DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
MD : To do it 'right'. We wanted this project to be functional and to look different.

DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
MD : I think this particular store is a great example of how a business idea can be enhanced through interior design. Just imagine yourself as a business owner, you've got great products and/or services to offer to your potential clients but don't know how to represent yourself on the 'big market'. We hope to help many other business owners to stand out from the crowd and to be different.

DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
MD : It took us a couple of weeks to come up with the concept and overall direction and another 3 weeks to do the drawings. Construction took about 10 weeks.

DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
MD : The design was commissioned. We wanted to create an inviting, open space that is welcoming and accessible for parents with strollers and people in wheelchairs, but at the same time we did not want to put an overwhelming amount of books on the shelves where the only part you see would be the spines on the books, so we came up with the concept of an 'open book' because open book is more appealing. Our panels became 'pages', and the columns became 'spines'. TVs are used for marketing purposes and to attract customers in.

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?
MD : In my opinion, interior design is unique in a way that a lot depends on the geometry and architecture of a given space, and this what makes every space we design different. I hope that this project would inspire other people to create something unique as well.

DI: What made you design this particular type of work?
MD : The client's requirements as well as the challenges we faced during the construction process.

DI: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
MD : No

DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
MD : Local communities and local business owners

DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
MD : We tried to create a new experience and a new concept for shopping books. If you think about how people shop today, the majority goes online. It is easier to google products than to find them in big stores, people just have less time. Also, to run a big store is costly thus not sustainable so we designed a small showroom as a continuation of the online shopping satisfying all customers, the ones who like to browse and shop online (with options to either pick up at the store or get the order shipped to their address) and the ones who like to come to the store and pick their books themselves. The design intent was to design an attractive space that is no culture, gender, or age specific and I think we succeeded.

DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
MD : The name of the store is its website which supports the idea of this store being a showroom. It is very simple.

DI: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?
MD : Every tool we had, you name it - we used it. It was not an easy project and working with good trades definitely made the whole process easier.

DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
MD : The fact that we made small space feel very spacious and aesthetically powerful.

DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
MD : Yes, we ended up consulting a structural engineer at some point as it is a public space and safety is important.

DI: What is the role of technology in this particular design?
MD : Thanks to technology this store has a website to sell online so the owners did not need a big space. Also, the store has a free wireless internet so that customers can browse what is in stock yet not on the floor without leaving the store. The TVs are used for various marketing and promotional purposes. Yes, technology played an important role on this project, however, we did not want technology to overpower the books. As a result, I think we were able to achieve a good balance between the two.

DI: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
MD : Yes, of course we did a lot of research before we began. Running a profitable bookstore business is tough these days at least from what we found, so we needed to understand how we could make it more profitable through interior design. High rent, electrical costs and labor cost were among the top causes for bookstores to be less profitable, so with smaller footprint but with the same amount of goods the chances for this bookstore to be more profitable are much higher. In addition, by selling books for children in 4 different languages they appeal to more than one community which is important in a multicultural city like Vancouver.

DI: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
MD : The existing space looked and felt very awkward, it was small, had a trapezoid shape and a very high ceiling with many exposed pipes. The biggest challenge was to be able to 'carve' the space using the existing geometry to our advantage the best way possible while leaving required access to everything existing, and we did it.

DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
MD : I guess I can compare it to being an athlete in a way that there is a huge difference between winning a provincial competition versus winning an Olympic medal. You can perform the same routine but the outcome feels so much different at the Olympics because it is international. Also, I was just really curious what the jury members would think about our project, and I am happy I did.

DI: What did you learn or how did you improve yourself during the designing of this work?
MD : Every project is different, so upon completing each and every one, no matter how big or small that project is, you learn something. On this particular project I learned to be flexible and think on the spot.

DI: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
MD : I think we've covered everything, thank you very much.