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Q&A with Guy Moorhouse

Independent designer living and working in London

Hi I’m Guy. I’m an independent designer living and working in London.

My main area of work as a designer is user interface design. I primarily design and build sites and products for the web, but throughout my career I’ve also worked on art installations, games, applications, in flight entertainment systems, animations, illustrations and much more.

How did you get started in design? What is a turning point in your professional career?

The design education at my school was pretty woeful and never captured my imagination. It was only later in my early twenties after doing an English degree that I then focused on design as a possible career.

I’m initially self taught. I voraciously read books and learnt from the web. I learnt HTML, CSS and Flash and started to build my own sites in the early 2000s.

A turning point is definitely when I got a job at Airside in London working with a really talented team. I learnt so much from them and will be eternally grateful for my time there.

What is your ideal work environment? Do you prefer to work in your design studio all day long or prefer to mix a few activities?

I like my workspace to be clutter free and I crave natural daylight and a sense of space to work well. I’ve just set up my own workspace at home and it’s all white and bright colours. It’s pretty obvious I guess, but if my workspace feels good, I work better.

I also love to get away from my desk and screen though. I find it really important to visit galleries and soak up arts and culture. And spending time with non-designers is the best — I don’t like being inside a design bubble where all I talk about is design.

Where does your work inspiration come from? (Do you believe in ‘inspiration’ at all)?

My best ideas for work come when I’ve been thinking intensely on a problem, but then I switch off and don’t expend any more conscious effort. It’s typically on my commute or doing something banal like tidying up and thinking about something unrelated that I’ll have good ideas.

I think it’s when you let your unconscious mind work on the problem that you can surprise yourself.

Also, talking. Talking through things with another designer or someone else for perspective is invaluable. At the Government Digital Service (where I work part time) there is a good culture of this — openness and sharing ideas really helps us make things better.

Where are your favorite places in your city or outside?

I generally crave being by the sea and in the sunshine. But as I live near London that’s not possible day-to-day — so I always make a point of being near the river as often as I can. The South Bank is one of my favourite areas — there’s loads of great public, communal spaces and brilliant architecture like the National Theatre and Royal Festival Hall.

London also has so many brilliant galleries and museums like the Tate Modern and the V&A. Where I’ll go depends on what exhibitions are on, but it’s great to be so spoilt for choice.

Who are the designers you admire most?

I am much less interested in designers than design as a field really. I’m more inspired by specific projects that do something interesting or new, rather than following the work of individuals or studios.

That said, a few contemporary artists + designers that I respect include Patrick Smith, Grayson Perry and friend and collaborator Malika Favre.

I could reel off a huge list of influential past designers, but I won’t. Suffice to say it would include Otl Aicher, Josef Muller-Brockmann, Dieter Rams, Saul Bass, Margaret Calvert and many of the other usual suspects.

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