Q&A with Cobra Product Design Competition winner Murray Sharp

Murray Sharp is passionate about industrial design and boasts a Btech Degree from the University of Johannesburg. He currently works at retail Design Company Barrows Design and Manufacturing in Durban as a product designer. His Lynx mixer harnesses the full potential of induction heating by supplying on-demand boiling water. It also features an electronic user interface for various functions (including pre-setting water temperature and specific volumes for cooking and baking), and incorporates no-touch technology. Murray Sharp took top honours in the professional category of Cobra’s Product Design Competition 2014 for his sleek Lynx Mixer and placed second in the same category in 2013 for his Aloe Mixer. Cobra asked him five design-inspired questions; here’s what he had to share: 1. What is the most important aspect for you when creating a design for a fitting? User experience and aesthetics are most important to me when designing. If a user is going to interact with a product, it must be an experience that is pleasing to the user. Easy to use, comfortable, logical, and easy to understand. This also involves function; ‘a well-functioning product is great to interact with’. Aesthetics is a given for any designer. We will always strive to create something that looks good. 2. How do you go about getting inspired to create a design? I often start by researching what is already out there. I choose a bunch of designs that I like and create a mood board to get my head in the right space. Over and above this, I am often inspired by nature and natural forms, which can often be seen in my designs. 3. What kind of planning goes into your choice of material? Material choice can make or break your designs. I start off by researching what materials are trending at the moment, then sift out what would and wouldn’t work for the specific product I’m designing. One also has to consider if a material will become outdated over time, in this case it could be better to choose something timeless for example chrome or white gloss ceramic surfaces (bathroom). In a space I often like to offset two materials according to colour and texture. For example a rough raw concrete in a dark grey against a high gloss white or polished copper. 4. How important is aesthetic appeal to a design? The principle of form follows function is something I try to stick to when designing. However in today’s day and age, with the saturation of products in the market, it is difficult to create something different when designing by this principle alone. I think a more relevant approach would be, make it function and make it beautiful. That said, aesthetics are very important. 5. What would you say are top bathroom and kitchen trends at the moment? • Concrete counter tops • Shaved/concealed handles on cabinetry • Incorporation of natural fauna/plants into the environment • Environmentally friendly taps, heating systems etc • On demand hot water systems such as induction heating etc. • Free standing baths • Large glass showers (Indoor/outdoor) with large square shower heads. • Floating block shelves and countertops • Colours- light browns, high gloss whites, charcoals, and accents of green from plants. Copper is also quite on trend but more for kitchens than bathroom.

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If you love design as much a Murray and want to share your inspiration the world, there is still time to enter The Cobra Product Design Competition 2015. Stand a chance to win your share of R100 000! Entries Close 6 July 2015. More info: http://www.cobra.co.za/cobracomp2015/

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