20Q: Adam Court

If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well. This advice from his mother has certainly stood Adam Court in good stead.
Adam Court.
Adam Court.

As the creative director of luxury lifestyle brand OKHA, Adam Court works to set a new design standard in indulgent African furniture and décor. Court studied fine art with a major in sculpture and has worked in a variety of complementary creative spheres in London, New York, Paris and Los Angeles, all of which have influenced his work and honed his eye. He worked with fashion designer Jasper Conran in London, has made music videos and TV commercials, and designed jewellery and fashion accessories.

1. How do you know when a design is complete? That’s a tough one! It’s easy to over work or over complicate a design, you have to keep reminding yourself to adhere to your original, untainted vision of the piece and not lose sight of that. Check yourself, step back and see if what you see before you sings or not, hopefully (not always) there comes a moment of “Destined Being” where the object becomes all that it was destined to be, it becomes ONE. The journey can be one of hard labour, blood and tears or equally almost spiritual and instinctive, it all depends on one's connectivity at the time.

2. Do you recycle? I recycle and rework ideas. Often I feel that the journey of a particular product or an idea has not been fully realised and it deserves greater life, greater exploration. I don’t recycle material things as much as I should, but then again I live a pretty lean and essential existence. When I was at art school we recycled everything because we were flat broke! That lead to great, mad, sculptural beings, it’s where many designers and artists start from - out of simple necessity rather than environmental awareness.

3. If not design, what would you do? My choices early on were art school or drama school, both considered risky pursuits by my parents. Art won out but I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had taken the Drama route, it could have been very messy! Later on though I spent many years working in film in London and LA, I ate, slept, drank, dreamt film and wanted to write and direct. I like the idea of total commitment to something, no matter what. I could imagine being a sportsman, offering myself up to a particular sport with total dedication and being able to perform at the ultimate level. I like the idea of being an acutely, finely tuned tool! All quiet solitary pursuits and quest orientated activities that require complete dedication and also that provoke emotional response.

4. What's your secret obsession? I honestly don’t have one, I don’t obsess about anything. I focus on a project for a period, then move on, life’s too full of variation to obsess on one thing.

5. Are you passionate about South Africa? SA pulls me in many different contradictory ways, it’s a complex relationship, but ultimately I have a deep, rather raw and instinctive connection to this place.

6. What's the most adventurous thing you've ever done? Left home at 17 for London, left London for Los Angeles, left Los Angeles for Paris, left Paris for Cape Town.

7. What's one thing that you know you do differently to most people? I design using a pencil, paper and eraser… I am pretty computer illiterate.

8. What are you reading at the moment? Borrowed my wife’s book, On Beauty by Zadie Smith.

9. Who in the world, dead or alive, would you most like to have a drink with? David Bowie / Arthur Rimbaud / Henry Miller / Alexander the Great and some female company to spice it up… All of them sitting round the same table for a few.

10. Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity? I have seen true insanity for what it is and there’s some creative madness locked up in there, but due to the nature of madness it remains locked, lost in translation. That’s possibly the essence of genius, being able to extract and focus the pure creative live wire out of the storm of madness, normally the domain of artists and writers.

11. What does water taste like? The best thing on earth.

12. What do you do on Sundays? Weekends revolve around my children, it’s their time, so they dictate (with some guidance). Luckily we share the same interests and I love being with them.

13. Do you have a creative muse? No, I use different tools for different projects. If I want to conjure a certain mood while working I dig and scratch through my CDs to find the appropriate tracks. Sometimes I imagine an individual, the car they drive, the house they live in, the location, the atmosphere, like directing a short film of sorts where my product plays a part.

14. What's the best piece of design you've seen recently? There’s plenty of international architecture that is very exciting at the moment, in many ways it is stealing the design limelight. Buildings themselves have become art pieces, sculptures, and they force us to question the way we chose to live and what we surround ourselves with. Choices, questions, dialogue, strange and new languages, all good.

15. Are there certain characteristics all creatives possess? Dedication to their art. Creatives live for creating. It’s part of their DNA, they can’t deny it. It’s a religion that one dedicates one’s life to. In that respect they are devout by character, devout and somewhat possessed.

16. What would you take with you to a desert island? As many books as I could, I would want to hear the thoughts of other human beings.

17. What's your favourite film? Too many to mention.

18. What's your favourite place in the world? Where I am in the present.

19. Do you remember what the first thing was you ever "made"? A floor lamp, it had a cast concrete base, coil springs from a car’s suspension, a few exhaust pipes and shards of broken glass.  

20. What's the best piece of creative advice you've ever received? My mother always said that anything worth doing was worth doing well. A simple and profound truth.

Also read about Court's Black Rain Mirror.