Interview with Shahen Markarian from United States

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Shahen Markarian

Shahen Markarian is an award-winning product designer who remains dedicated to honing his skills in the digital product design industry for the past seven years and is currently the head of the design department in Florida.

Interview With The 2023 London Design Awards Winner – Shahen Markarian

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your design background.

I am an experienced product designer with a track record of winning international awards in various fields. Over the past seven years, I have dedicated myself to honing my skills in the digital product design industry. For three years, I held a leadership position in the design department of prominent companies in Shanghai, China.

Throughout my career, I have collaborated with diverse organisations, including renowned names like Mantra Dao Corp and RioDefi, as well as established corporations, crafting digital products that cater to the needs of their users. Presently, I am proud to serve as the head of the design department at a Florida-based company where I lead a talented team in developing highly innovative and user-centric digital products.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a designer/artist?

I became a product designer because of my deep passion for creating meaningful and impactful experiences for people. From a young age, I was always fascinated by how design can shape the way we interact with the world around us. Whether it was the sleek lines of a well-designed car or the intuitive interface of a website, I was drawn to the idea of crafting products that not only looked beautiful but also enhanced the lives of their users.

Throughout my educational journey, I explored various creative disciplines but design always stood out as the perfect blend of artistry and problem-solving. I realised that as a product designer, I could merge my artistic skills with my analytical mindset to develop solutions that address real-world challenges.

3What does “design” mean to you?
Design is about problem-solving. Whether it's tackling complex challenges or finding innovative ways to address user needs, I approach every project with a solution-oriented mindset. This involves seeking inspiration from various sources, observing the world around us and pushing the boundaries of what's possible.
4What’s your favorite kind of design and why?

As an experienced product designer with a background in designing furniture, my favourite kind of design undoubtedly centres around furniture design. The reasons for this preference are rooted in my passion for creating functional art that enhances people's lives while blending creativity and practicality.

Furniture design offers a unique canvas for me to combine artistic expression with the tangible impact on daily living. The process of conceptualising and crafting furniture pieces is like sculpting functional sculptures that people can interact with, use, and appreciate in their homes or spaces.

5To you, what makes a “good” design?

An exceptional design seamlessly integrates user-centricity, functionality, aesthetics, innovation, sustainability, and meticulous attention to detail. It goes beyond meeting practical needs and strikes an emotional chord with users, enhancing their lives.

A truly remarkable design possesses adaptability and timelessness, transcending fleeting trends. It serves as a testament to the designer's unwavering pursuit of excellence and their profound recognition of design's transformative potential to create positive impacts in the world.

6How did you come up with the idea for your award-winning design?
The idea for my award-winning design stemmed from a combination of careful research, creative exploration, and a deep understanding of the users' needs. It was a project that presented a unique challenge and I wanted to create something truly innovative and impactful!
7What was your main source of inspiration for this design?
After being influenced by the German product designer and founder of the Bauhaus concept and architecture, Walter Gropius, I found inspiration in the idea that the design of an object should primarily be dictated by its intended function and purpose. Subsequently, I conducted research on Bauhaus works as a concept which led me to embark on a project based on those principles.
8Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?
As an experienced product designer, I firmly believe that my country and its cultural heritage play a significant role in shaping my design process and influencing my creative approach. The cultural context in which I grew up and the values instilled by my country have a profound impact on how I perceive the world, interpret design challenges, and conceptualise solutions.
9Congratulations! As the winner of the London Design Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?
Winning the London Design Awards is an incredible honour and a moment of great pride for myself! It is a testament to my hard work, creativity and dedication to excellence in the field of product design. I am incredibly thankful for the recognition and look forward to a future filled with even more exciting design challenges and accomplishments.
10Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2023 London Design Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?
It was a project that held significant importance to me, both professionally and personally, and I believed it exemplifies the essence of outstanding Bauhaus design.
11What were the main challenges you faced during the design process, and how did you overcome them?
During the design process of the Modern Bauhaus chairs, I encountered several main challenges that required careful consideration and innovative solutions to overcome. The primary challenge was finding the delicate balance between staying true to the iconic Bauhaus design principles while infusing a contemporary touch that would resonate with modern audiences.
12How do you think winning this award will impact your future as a designer?
Winning this prestigious award will significantly impact my future as a designer. It validates my skills, enhances my professional reputation and increases visibility. It motivates me to push creative boundaries, open new networking opportunities, and inspire continuous growth. Overall, it propels me towards an exciting and impactful design journey!
13What are your top three (3) favourite things about our industry?
My top three favourite things about the design industry are the boundless creativity, the potential to make a positive impact and the collaborative. These aspects fuel my passion for design and drive me to continue exploring, creating, and contributing to the ever-evolving world of design.
14What sets your design apart from others in the same category?
My design for the Modern Bauhaus chairs distinguishes itself from others in the same category by harmoniously blending aesthetics and functionality. By infusing a modern twist into the iconic Bauhaus principles, the chairs offer a unique and contemporary appeal while staying true to their design heritage.
15Where do you see the evolution of design industry going over the next 5-10 years?

In the next 5-10 years, the design industry will experience significant changes and advancements. Sustainability will take precedence with a strong focus on eco-friendly materials and responsible manufacturing. Technology will reshape the design process, integrating virtual reality, AI, and 3D printing.

Customisation will rise, allowing for personalised products. Collaboration across disciplines will foster comprehensive solutions. The industry will become more interconnected globally, drawing inspiration from diverse cultures and expanding international markets. Designers will lead the way, driving innovation and creating meaningful solutions for a changing world.

16What advice do you have for aspiring designers who want to create award-winning designs?

As an experienced product designer who has won international awards, I would offer the following advice to aspiring designers who aspire to create award-winning designs. Cultivate curiosity, continuous learning, and a deep understanding of user needs.

Embrace collaboration, iteration, and feedback while finding a balance between aesthetics and functionality. Persevere through challenges, believe in yourself, and remain true to your authentic design perspective. By following these principles, you can embark on a fulfilling design journey and increase your chances of creating award-winning designs.

17What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the design industry?
A combination of online courses, design books, conferences, networking, mentorship, and continuous practice can significantly enhance your skills as a designer. Seek guidance from experienced designers and build professional connections. Challenge yourself by entering competitions, gaining exposure and valuable feedback. Embrace these resources and commit to continuous learning and growth in the dynamic and ever-evolving design environment.
18Tell us something you have never told anyone else.

An aspect that I might not have mentioned explicitly before is the profound sense of fulfilment and pride I experience when I see my designs positively impacting people's lives. The journey is not just about the accolades; it's about the impact we can have on society and the world at large.

When I see my designs being embraced, cherished, and sparks joy and utility to users, it reinforces my passion for design and motivates me to continue pushing the boundaries of creativity and innovation.

19Who has inspired you in your life and why?
German product designer and founder of the Bauhaus concept and architecture, Walter Gropius. Bauhaus has had a profound and lasting influence on my journey as a product designer. Its principles of simplicity, functionality, and form following function have been a guiding light in my design approach.
20What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
Keep your curiosity alive! Explore different design styles, cultures, and art forms. Inspiration can come from unexpected sources, and maintaining an open mind will enrich your creativity.
21Do you have anything else you would like to add to the interview?
Design is a fulfilling and rewarding journey. Embrace every step, from concept to completion, and enjoy the process of bringing your ideas to life.

Winning Entry

Modern Bauhaus | 2023


After being influenced by the German product designer and founder of the Bauhaus concept and architecture, Walter Gropius … (Read more at London Design Awards)

Shahen Markarian

Shahen Markarian is an award-winning product designer who remains dedicated to honing his skills in the digital product design industry for the past seven years and is currently the head of the design department in Florida.

Read more about this interview with Pei Yao (Heather) Tang for KASHA M, the Gold Winner of the 2023 London Design Awards.