Helene Forrester-Wood Builds up her Future Career in Design
Helene Forrester-Wood, recent graduate of Interior Architecture & Design at UCA Canterbury, has recently won the Young Interior Designers award for her unique take on combing the two very distinct communities of bankers and sex-workers in Central London. Her prizes included £10,000 and an internship at the leading interior design studio, Janine stone.
I was lucky enough to interview Helene and get some insight into her background, interests, inspirations, and career aspirations.
You seem to have a very broad interest in art that you’ve developed from GCSE level, carried through to A-Levels also. Did you manage to incorporate your artistic experiences into your interior design projects?
I found that my Interior Architecture course to be much more technical then I had expected it to be, especially compared to the art and textiles I had previously studied. I think there was a lot that influenced my designs from my previous studies and just learning about colour, compositions and understanding perspective was a great help but I did not feel Interior Architecture was as artistically creative as Art or other design.
How important was it that your projects came from an artistic approach to architecture and design?
I am not sure I started any of my projects with any type of goal or approach. It was more important to me to meet the needs of the brief rather than whether or not it came from an artistic approach or not. It was always important to me to deliver a concept that was creative and unique, something thought provoking. I would find inspiration wherever I could; sometimes that was from art and design but anything can inspire your projects.
Your scale models and drawings featured on your website also look very professional. Did you have any previous experience in model making or architectural drawing prior to joining your course?
Not at all. In fact those skills did not really develop until later on in my degree course, especially model making. The skills I have now are completely different to what I started with, and most importantly I do not think my university degree was hindered by my prior lack of knowledge.
What do you understand about the differences between Architecture courses in comparison to an Interior Architecture & Design course? Do you think your way of working would have differed on an Architecture course instead?
The way it was described to me was that an Interior Architect would be a translator for the Architect and the Interior Designer or a conceptual artist. It would be someone who understands how the space is used, taking a clients needs and turning it into a design. It is not all technical and it is not all artistic but somewhere in the middle, allowing the Interior Architect to understand and interpret all stages of design. I believe I would have struggled with Architecture, not because of the technical side, but during the concept stage. Design always has to suit the context; I find much more of a connection with the interior and architecture, rather than the architecture and the surrounding area.
You recently won a competing for designing a space to accommodate the “extra-circular activities” of bankers’ in London’s city district. Could you briefly explain why the subject was something you wanted explore?
Yes, it was for the Janine Stone Young Interior Designers Award. The brief I was given at university required a space for two communities; one had to be currently based in the City, to co-habit the same space. City bankers as a community stood out to me the most and the bad press that comes with their occupation helped inform the second community, which was sex workers. I thought that because of the current bad press that bankers receive and the serious issues behind the sex industry and trafficking, it seemed appropriate to discuss these issues through my design. The design, which ultimately is a playhouse for bankers with a strip club, champagne bar, cocaine bar and what can only be described as a prostitute vending machine, was meant to be a satirical look at this perceived lifestyle of bankers and what it would be like if it was condoned and legal.
Do you have any particular designers or practices that you are admire, and would possibly like to work with?
Renzo Piano Workshop was one of those practices that I was first introduced to and I was given one of their books in my first year, so they are one of my first great influences. Frank Gehry is one that I admire, I love it when anyone pushes the limits of contemporary design and questions what is conventional. I would have loved to work with Dorothy Draper, her wild colour and print combinations are fabulous. My most recent favourite is industrial designer; Ron Arad, the use of technology and materials create truly innovative designs.
Are you currently working at an architecture and/or design practice? What are your ambitions for the next few months and years since graduating?
Yes, part of winning the competition was a 6 month internship with the leading architecture and interior design practice, Janine Stone. I am now working as a Junior Designer within their London design team. I am looking forward to continuing with my internship and learning as much as I can from Janine, Anthony and the rest of the design team and expanding on the skills I learnt during my time at university. After that, I am not too sure. I think I will have to wait and see.