Interview with designer Conor McDonald (CM), regarding views on design, and for the award-winning design Una Side Table.

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Interview with Conor McDonald at Friday 13th of September 2013: DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
CM : seamless integration of materials employing the plywood bending process.

DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
CM : to define, in my terms, a classic piece.

DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
CM : initially to manufacture the una in short run, eventually licensing the design to a larger entity

DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
CM : just over a year to design and prototype.

DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
CM : i was convinced that it had to be made the moment the idea came to me.

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?
CM : the design is not currently being produced. ideally, i’d like to sell the rights to production. in the event that there are no interested parties, my intention is to self-manufacture in short runs.

DI: What made you design this particular type of work?
CM : it’s an aesthetic that i purchase for myself.

DI: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
CM : i’m greatly influenced by the works of the renowned designers of mid century modern furniture. warren platner, whose process is evident in his outcomes, particularly intrigues me.

DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
CM : design enthusiasts.

DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
CM : using plywood for the primary structure of the table instead of the surface that the user interacts with, as is commonly the case.

DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
CM : una is defined in latin as “in one, together”. this reference to the merging of components in order to create a monolithic object defines the una table.

DI: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?
CM : solidworks, hand sketching and modeling.

DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
CM : the joint that results when the forms are adhered requires an extremely accurate multi-compound cut. the precision required for this cut is the most difficult aspect in manufacturing the piece and what ultimately defines the piece aesthetically, setting it apart from others of similar material. 

DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
CM : i design alone, but work with numerous craftsmen to realize and prototype ideas.

DI: What is the role of technology in this particular design?
CM : the modeling was done in solidworks. cnc routers were used to cut the forms and jigs. looking forward, technologies such as multi axis cnc routing and radio frequency adhesion could be considered for large scale manufacturing.

DI: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
CM : multiple tests were performed to get a full understanding of the limitations and possibilities of the plywood bending process.

DI: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
CM : the greatest challenges were to prototype a piece that requires this level of precision, and to commit to building several jigs before being able to vet their usefulness, all the while knowing that the technology exists to do so with ease. but, recognizing the simplicity of manufacturing such a piece served as the greatest motivation to do so first, by hand.

DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
CM : i felt it would be a good way to get my work in front of an audience i might otherwise be unable to address.

DI: What did you learn or how did you improve yourself during the designing of this work?
CM : i expanded my network of craftsmen and vendors.