Breakthrough designer DIO DAVIES is turning heads on the art scene with her eye-catching pieces, bringing a new light to the all-familiar pieces. Dio sits down with DESIGN SCENE’s editor KATARINA DJORIC for an exclusive interview to talk about her beginnings, materials and dream projects.
What is your background and how did design become your passion?
I grew up in a creative household with an English architect father and a French artist mother. I was surrounded by colour, interesting materials and wonderful acrylic architectural models which I studied for hours. I guess this was the start of my love affair with acrylic and it’s extraordinary qualities.
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How would you describe your work? What is your design philosophy?
My work is a fusion of function and art. Each piece serving a purpose but intended to bring humour, interest and beauty to space. My design philosophy is to surprise and delight.
Where do you seek design inspiration?
I seek inspiration from all areas of life. I love to travel as every place has its own signature and I like to explore its identity, from the colors derived from its culture along with the natural surroundings, architecture and people. I enjoy films and particularly sci-if as the futuristic aesthetic really resonates with me. Researching materials is also inspiring as the possibilities are endless.
What comes first – the materials or the design idea?
Either can start the process. If there is a particular material in mind that really excites me I explore it’s potential – when using neon acrylic it tends to lead the design as it is so luminous and powerful.
When using a mixture of materials this starts from a design idea, which I have been working on for some time. I am always sketching and mood boarding the next concept.
What part of the process excites you the most?
The reveal is the most exciting moment when a concept becomes reality. I visualize and sketch the pieces and it is always a humbling moment seeing them at their full potential, the clean lines, highly reflective surfaces and mixed elements all working in synergy.
What is your dream project?
Designing a transparent piano was something I had always wanted to do. So I was thrilled to be able to design the coral piano and find Edelweiss Pianos who were willing and able to turn that dream into a reality.
One of my future dream projects would be to design pieces for a beach house, whether it be Hampton’s style or a Miami Penthouse. Clear acrylic has many talents, it reflects and mirrors like a liquid and it’s translucent ethereal qualities allow it to absorb and channel light. Coastal properties are built with their environment in mind, where views and light play a key part, ever-changing throughout the day. I am working on ideas for a ski chalet and yacht as they share the same relationships to their natural environment.
So, what do you think is the role of the designer in today’s society?
A designer’s brief is so varied that I feel they have numerous roles. What I feel I bring are innovation, humour and originality.
What do you enjoy doing apart from designing?
I really enjoy music and it is always playing in our house, spending time with my family and friends, doing arts and crafts with my kids. I love working out as it is my time out and ideas often manifest whilst training. Walking in the countryside with my dog Boris and travelling the world.
Who are your favorite designers from fields of fashion, interior and architecture?
From fashion, it would Melissa Odabash and Lisa Marie Fernandez, as I love resort wear, I also admire Gwen Stefani’s style. For interiors, it would be Kelly Wearstler and Tara Bernard. Zaha Hadid is one of my favourite architects along with Rogers, Stirk, Harbour and Partners (previously known as Richard Rogers Partnership). My father was a founding partner and I grew up surrounded by their adventurous visions throughout the world.
Name 5 things you cannot live without
Family & friends
Are you working on any special new designs or projects at the moment?
I am currently in the South of France installing a project for a client that we have been preparing for some time. I have designed an elongated transparent table with invisible bonds so it is seamless and appears to float. It will be entirely filled with lavender that has been harvested from their grounds.
What advice would you give to young designers?
Keep up with Dio on her official webpage: diodavies.com.