1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your design background.
My name is Dan Dugdale, I’m a product and graphic designer based in Leeds in the UK. I studied Product Design at York St John university.
2What made you become/why did you choose to become a designer/artist?
Completely by accident really. I originally went to university to study Art which was my passion at the time. I had been in York for an university open day and found it was such a beautiful place and unlike anywhere I had been before. My mind was set, so no matter what I was going to York. I went for an interview for the Art course in York, accidently ended up in the wrong building sat in front of one of the Design tutors having an interview not intended for me! He had a look through my portfolio and suggested trying a course that was part time Art, part time Design. After 1 month, I switched to full time design and haven’t looked back! I’ve always had a passion for creativity and design, I’m most happy when I’m sketching, designing and building!
3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.
Event Prop Hire is the leading UK supplier of Props, furniture and products for hire to the events industry. We specialize in offering an unmatched range of over 150 themes, from stylish and contemporary right through to weird and wonderful.
We have a warehouse that totals over 145,000 square featuring housing thousands of props. It’s a real Aladdin’s cave full of crazy things. Everything is built on site with amazing production facilities and a talented team of fabricators that work very closely with the Design team.
I am the Design Manager at Event Prop Hire. I also manage the Print team. I also work on some of the most complex and largest product designs as well as super-secret bespoke work for EPH Studios. EPH studios is a new side to the company that focuses on providing bespoke design and production services.
It’s an extremely fast paced business, with lots of projects and quick deadlines. Pressure is high but it is very enjoyable and rewarding! I get to see my designs built by a really talented team.
4What’s your favorite kind of design and why?
I suppose my favorite kind of design is one that comes with the biggest challenges. It's great going into something with that initial feeling of 'how the hell am I going to make this work'!
The types of things I get to design at Event Prop Hire are all about being part of creating an amazing immersive themed event space. It’s really about designing and building magical things that feel impossible to people, transporting them back to feeling a bit like a kid again. Amazing the clients is the end goal, providing something they haven’t seen before.
I love a project that comes with a pretty blank canvas as you can really put your own spin on it as a designer. An open brief can be quite daunting but really, it can come with the best opportunities for innovation and true creativity. However, it’s equally rewarding to design and build something for a client based on a more inclusive brief. With every project brief, I push myself to find that hidden potential, then drive this forward into the design. At the end you feel like you’ve unlocked that hidden potential. It's an amazing feeling.
5To you, what makes a “good” design?
That’s a hard question really. I suppose it’s taking that initial idea and the question that sparks it, then really exploring it until it multiplies, probably into another hundred unanswered questions! Linking all of this together, understanding the connections and why they exist, then producing an informed answer with a design.
Design for me is all about combining creative, fun and flamboyant ideas with innovative logical thinking, making the impossible, possible!
6Describe your design style and its main characteristics.
Adaptive and open. I’ll try the design approach that suits the project and brief opposed to defining and specific style. I really enjoy designing and trying new methods and techniques. I keep myself up to date and I’m constantly learning new ways so that when the right project comes along, I can use it. I get a buzz from trying new things in design. My style is also very flamboyant as aesthetics is important. I initially focus on the function and really understanding the problem I’m solving, then I can make sure the product I design looks great while it does it, without losing my way.
7Tell us about your design process.
Pretty standard I think. I always start with lots of note and questions. Then lots of sketching alongside working in 2D to establish accurate scaling and the overall graphic design language of the product (front and side views etc.). Then, I'll take a product into 3D with an initial concept model, further exploring scale, function and how the product will be built and used. Then, I tend to sketch digitally or render up concept visuals of the product to establish the developed look. Finally, I'll finesse the product into a final 3D model that is product ready, answering any final questionx I might have. Then it's full steam ahead with creating production files and GA drawings. I'll work alongside the fabricators then, solving any new problems and adapting the design as we build.
8Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?
Well designed for events is niche and our focus is designing for various themes that incorporate influence from various cultures and countries. I keep myself open to be influenced in my design process by these factors so anything I produce can be sympathetic and guided by them.
9Congratulations! As the winner of the 2019 MUSE Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?
I have followed MUSE Awards since University and always aspired to submitting a piece of work that I felt was worthy. I received the email with last call for applicants and couldn’t resist giving it a go, so I tapped into my savings and spent a long evening pulling together the submission. It’s one of my favorite projects and products, so I very much found myself getting lost in it just as I did when I originally designed it. Next thing I know I’ve entered, which was pretty rewarding in itself.