20Q: Ian Kelynack

Ian Kelynack of Isle of Trees made his Design Indaba Expo debut this year. His sustainable work won him the Most Creative Stand Award.

From the Series

1. What items would you put into a time capsule? 

Seeds indigenous to South Africa, like Fynbos.

A visual journal showcasing my work, ideals, concepts, inspiration, reference.

Samples of the materials I used to produce the things I made.

2. If you were told that you had to live inside a work of art, which would you choose? 

If I can consider “The Trojan Horse” to be a work of art, then that would be it.

3. How do you define creative success?

I would say being creative is all about process and so is success. It’s a process that you have to have much patience with.

4. What makes you laugh out loud?

The strange behaviour of animals!

 5. How old were you when you made your first design and what was it?

From an early age of about four I can remember that I would always try and make the toys that my parents could not buy me. I would use all sorts of stuff like cardboard, Lego and whatever else I could find.  Even though my creation did not necessarily look like the original thing I was trying to mimic, my imagination would always fill in the gaps.

6. Are there certain characteristics that all creatives possess?

I think so. It seems that we all have our heads in the clouds to some degree, unpractical with our initial ideas because our imagination runs away with our thoughts. But generally its that good old scientific reason that we use our right side of the brain more than our left side that has a lot to do with all of this.

7. What is the question you ask yourself the most?

"Where did the time go!?"

8. What is something that you have learnt in the past five years?

The past five years I spent realising what I should be doing with my skills and profession. I have learnt and understood that I should not have any expectations of anyone, anything or a situation, period. Along with my efforts, the only thing that I can express is my hope for something, someone or a situation to work while following the steps of what I should do or don't do. I have found that my process and what I do has become more tangible.

9. In your subjective view, what makes a piece of design good? 

Good design is when something is practical. Functional. Affordable. Balanced in colour and texture. Timeless form that is aesthetically pleasing and adaptable to the ever-changing fashion. If it can be easily replicated during the production process, is it in turn a modular item. Considered use of materials for the time - we are living in an age where materials are becoming scarce and expensive. Is it good for our environment? If it can be designed and made from something else that has no use into something valuable.

10. What do you do on Sundays?

I ride my mountain bike or I make special time to hang out with friends but most Sundays are spent recollecting and relaxing myself.

11. Who in the world, dead or alive, would you most like to have a drink with?

My great grandfather. I've never met him but understand that he was an awesome dude.

12. Do you have a creative/business muse?

Yes I do.

13. What's the best design advice you've ever received?

Spend enough time realising your thoughts and ideas with pencil and paper before you start investing time and money making something.

14. How do you deal with failure?

I don't see things that "don't work out" as failure. Success is a process, not an event. With this principle in mind I can check myself about avoiding seeing things as failure. I have made and done things before that all seemed to be in vain but have found that there are times when some of them, or sometimes all of them, come together. I understand that I have to be patient with what I am doing to allow things to grow and mature with time. It is like nurturing a garden or pruning a Bonsai tree. These things take time and it is what you put in that counts. And I don't mean "plant Pine trees and expect to harvest Oak trees".

15. Which qualities do you most admire in others?

I like it when people are quiet and content while listening and observing a situation or conversation.

People that are regal. Confident in a modest and humble kind of way. Humorous personalities that create entertaining situations. People that are free-spirited and free flowing in how they are and what they do. People that have decorum. I admire people that will always go out of their way, no matter what, to help others.

16. How do you know when a piece of design is complete?

It's tricky to say. Is a design ever good enough? And as we learn, a design could always be better. I suppose it depends on what the design is for. They all have their own set of criteria and if you can meet these criteria and make yourself and everyone happy so you can get paid or rewarded in some kind of way at the end of the day, then I would say that's a good sign that your design has reached some degree of completion.

17. What is something you know you do differently to most people?

Hmmm..? haha! I guess I don't. Because I don't really know if most people don't do some of the things that I think I do differently! Haha!

However maybe I can say that through what I do as a furniture designer I deliver positive education about ways to conserve our natural environment by practicing it in our immediate living environment, hence my payoff for Isle of Trees is "Furniture for your environment". Apart from the actual product being "green" the informative communication about the product is delivered in the following way: Packaging and labeling. Website and online social media. TV and radio. And maybe one day I can be different about how I advertise by using less conventional means to get my ideals across to the public.

18. What has been your favourite project to date?

Look I know this is for Design Indaba but honestly I would like to say that preparing and creating my exhibition stand to showcase my products and ideas has been the best project and experience so far in my career! Its amazing what its done for me and my business and I can only hope that I can make a difference in the world, my community or somewhere with something through what I do to one day say thanks!

19. Do you recycle?

Oh yes. I do. And its always a pleasure to collect, sort and separate.

20. Can design save the world?

I believe and hope that it can and will most certainly try my best to make a difference with design.