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5th September 2017 • News

Q&A with Gareth Devonald Smith


Gareth, a longstanding friend of Porta Romana, has been collaborating with us now, for 5 years, his strong distinctive style, sits perfectly within the Porta Romana collection. Gareth’s dynamic creations include the Lollipop Chandelier, The Sputnik, The Metropolis, Covex Wall Lights, Rhomboid Console, Cirque Family and XXV Lamp.

We are delighted to welcome Gareth back in 2017 with the beautiful and awe inspiring Rythmn Chandelier, which no doubt will inspire many more pieces in the same family. The piece is made from two separate elements – a steel body and cast composite abstract shapes.

We asked Gareth about his inspiration for the chandelier and the design process behind it, discover his answers here.

How would you describe your design style?

I would describe my design style as organic,playful,modernist,avant-garde.

What influences your style the most?

My father’s work in the film industry was a big influence-an early memory of visiting the Volcano set of the bond film you only live twice-the wonderful mix of industrial-high tech and futuristic-a very evocative experience being exposed to this world at 9 or 10 years of age-I don’t think I’ve ever really consciously made this link-if one looks at my monolithic chandelier Satellite-this link becomes immediately clear.

With interior design constantly changing, do you prefer to follow trends or do your own thing when designing?

I really do prefer to do my own thing. It’s a temptation to look at what others are doing but I think this can undermine one’s own sensibilities-so stick to your own path and build a strong identity.

What was the main inspiration behind the design of the Rhythm Chandelier?

I’ve been working on organic 3D shapes recently and started putting collections of them together-so when talking to Shazeen and Sarah about some new pieces it became obvious to incorporate some of them into the brief, a new linear chandelier (amongst the pieces).I think it was really to create a very sculptural piece-more so than anything that I’d previously done for Porta Romana.

How did you begin the design process?  

A 2D presentation,3D model and then prototype.

The process is represented here visually. It’s a good start to get either a sketch or collage onto paper/board and then begin to see the piece emerge from this-it’s all about aesthetics/the look initially-very little to do with the nuts and bolts of the production techniques to be employed(although I think there maybe half an eye on this as one is working).

What did you enjoy most about designing this piece?

I hope that it’s quite obvious how much fun it was to design this piece-It’s very playful but I think it’s also quite strong and purposeful.

What was the most challenging part of designing this piece?

Here I think we can go back to Q5-It’s all about the look in the 2D and model stage and then of course it has to work in production. The piece kicks out very slightly at either end or so with a central spine will tend to want to pull/twist-known as torsion- once the piece is loaded with the forms-the wiring boss is so designed to prevent this occurring-all from a discussion between Spencer, myself and Louis Calmels-at the prototype stage.

Why did the chandelier get named ‘Rhythm’? 

I have to admit I’m not that good at naming pieces, and so Shazeen came up with a list of names that she felt would work with the new collection. Rhythm is very apt-the piece has a musical sense to it and I think the name works perfectly.

This isn’t the first time you have designed for Porta Romana.  What do you enjoy most about working with us?

I would say it has a lot to do with the very personal approach that has built up over 10 years since Andrew and Sarah first got in touch with me. PR as a company really is a family and it is a very enjoyable experience to design a collection for you. I think you as a company are prepared to try new things-I think you actively want to try and push some of the boundaries, and this is always good news for a designer.

What would you say is your favourite piece that you have designed for us previously and why?

That’s a difficult one-but in the end I think Sputnik Chandelier and The cirque lamp are amongst my favourites-together with the Rhomboid console table-sorry that’s cheating isn’t it.