Richard Clarkson (2004-2008)

Richard Clarkson is a Senior Designer, Lighting and Furniture Designer for his own studio in New York, Richard Clarkson.

Richard Clarkson is a senior lighting and furniture designer for his own studio in New York: “I have always had a great curiosity about why things are the way they are. Since childhood I have been fascinated with colour, materiality, shape and form and have tried to explore how the designer arrived at each particular combination of these elements.  

“I have found that the thinking behind each object tells a story with so much more depth and emotion than the object itself, this ideology is what drives my design process and has begun to define my style of design. While my foundations lie in furniture and industrial product design I also have interests in media and graphic design as well as photography, fashion, painting and architecture. Along with critical design thinking I have a strong focus on the values of designs, often my work references historical objects whose pride in craftsmanship and durability meant something much more than it does in many of the designs today. When this historical reference is combined with the minimalist digital nature of my design work it creates a ‘harmonious contradiction.’ Core to my design style is this harmonious contradiction theory that certain elements which seem to contradict (a popular example could be eco-friendly vs. low cost of manufacture) can and must harmoniously co-exist and a balance point, it is this point that I strive to find in each of my designs. 

I studied Industrial Design at Victoria University of Wellington where I came to love furniture and lighting specifically. After graduating at VUW I moved to New York to study my masters in product design at a program called Products of Design at the School of Visual Arts. During my masters I developed a product called the Cloud - an Arduino controlled interactive Lamp and Speaker hybrid in the shape and texture of a cloud. I was lucky enough to receive a large amount of press from the Cloud and was able to start a furniture and lighting design Studio with my wife. We've been running the studio for three years now, expanding the product lines and consulting offerings. 

I learnt at Lindisfarne that I wanted to be in a career with a balance of creative and business outputs. Economics was a favourite of mine during my time at Lindisfarne to the point where I was split between studying a Bachelor of Commerce or a Bachelor of Design. Design won out in that instance, but later on during my Masters studies we did several business and design entrepreneurial papers and I realized that owning my own design business would satisfy my two favourite topics. I most enjoy the freedom for creative play in my work. 

At Lindisfarne I studied Economics, Art, Graphics and Media Studies and they all have direct elements that have either inspired or laid the foundation for what I currently do.  The best memories I have include swimming sports, going to the movies with all the other Boarding students, the faculty, the Ball. The funniest moment was House Drama one year, one of the sets background panels fell over and the students managed to so seamlessly intergrade it into the play as a joke, the comedic timing of it was absolutely perfect. And my favorite meal would have to be the crumbed schnitzel. 

I played hockey and tennis and was in the Surfing club and Skiing team. I was in the school band/orchestra as a bass guitarist and I did my public speaking diploma during my years at Lindisfarne. Each sport team and club group was an opportunity to interact and strengthen friendships beyond the classroom. 

Aside from all the typical values one learns at school, realising that information and teachings need to be always taken with a grain of salt. I can't even remember the specific example but one day in around year 12 I had my mind blown as Mr. Barry explained that one of the key elements we had learnt the previous year was in fact incorrect. That it was necessary to teach it that way in order for us to grasp at the time then be later on corrected. 

To the boys at school today, know that you are being taught how to learn much more that specifically what you are being taught. Those history dates and math equations are only tools for you to learn how to learn for yourself - to become your own teacher. At university and certainly after university there is an impossible amount of learning to be done but it's made much easier if you know how to teach yourself.” 

Click here to view Richard's website.


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Article added: Wednesday 06 November 2019