finding other voices

How does one whisper find another?


Interview 1 – Initial Chat

Sahil Mroke/Experience Designer from Delta, BC (speaking about Vancouver)

The idea behind the first interview was for it to be of someone interested in design processes and collaboration and who has worked in BC all his life. The setting was to be Emily Carr as this initial interview was made up of general place setting questions, so sitting looking out of the school to the mountains behind seemed fitting. Sahil was already primed – he knew what I was looking into, someone unknown would need to be asked to read the Whisper presentation first.

The interview was recorded, the questions asked listed below. The plan was to then do a design walk in a setting closer to Sahil’s home, a setting of his choosing in Delta.

  • Describe in as much detail where you are from/ where you live?
    (sets the scene, grounds it and hopefully gets him talking)
  • How would you describe yourself as a designer? What words would you use? What do you hope to achieve?
    (links it to profession)
  • Where is your favourite design space? // What environment would you say you need to be successful as a deisgner?
    (links it more precisely to ways of working, what effect environment has)
  • How do you feel the city of Vancouver influences your design thinking or design practice?
    (What affect the city (specific to him) have on his work?
  • How did your experience of working in Vancouver differ from working in Los Angeles?
    (Does he have anything to say about the different cities?)

After listening back to the transcript two quotes held together as interesting contrasts (illustrated below in a neon typeface as homage to its predominance in Vancouver but also I like the way neon has the power to simultaneously convey excitement and a kind of strange loneliness which my interactions with cities seem to generate).

‘There is an underbelly of students trying to survive’

A note on this typeface / quote choice. If I were to develop this into an object, a neon installation, I would consider wording carefully and typeface choice, this above and below is more of a shorthand to sketch out the idea.

‘I’m lucky to have this as my playground’

So after much reflection and questioning what I am trying to find in another voice, another whisper, I think I would need to significantly narrow down my questions for our design walk. Proposed questions are below. Also to note that the place itself would almost be a participant in this interview, yes there would be suggested questions as below but really you would want the designer to reflect and be in the place, so that they start talking about wider inspirations. So that they, in effect, relax.

  • So tell me about Delta?
    (General question about the area to get him talking)
  • What is it about this specific place that draws you back here?
    (Gets him talking about his relationship to this personal place)

    This is where the issue becomes is the personal space (outside) there as a device to show the designer’s connection to the landscape/city or is it a device to relax the designer so that you can then ask him/her/they the following and get a more open answer (say that sitting in a busy coffee shop in the city).
  • If you could pick any place in this city and do whatever you choose design to be, without constraint on resource or budget, what would you do in that space?
    (To encourage a more experimental and affirmative mindset, a more speculative design mindset)
  • What are some of your favourite spaces/places/art spaces/works by other indie designers in this city? And why?
    (To encourage them to talk about their local inspirations)

next steps…


How on earth did Anthony Bourdain do this just so well?!

I think you would be able to guess that this city was Vancouver from this transcript. (Still considering how to visualise the whole thing.) I think though that you would need to dig deeper into what makes Vancouver independent design, what does the interesting stuff here look like? Is the way to do this to to ask Sahil for his favourite local designers as in the suggested second interview questions above?

What criteria are you using for ‘interesting local independent design’, is it the stuff that comes out of small agencies R&D budget? Is it artists’ or designers’ residencies (for example working with Labs like Material Matters?). Is it work not happening in this space, but hyper local gig posters, is it super niche metal artwork?

It takes a while to research who to interview, set it up, consider questions, read the transcript and reflect on changes for next time. So I plan to research publication design/possible typographic treatments and stock to work with in between interviews.

Possible Other Interviews:
(Intention being to do the two interview method if possible)
Sarah Hay
Charlotte Falk
Julien Langois
Cameron Neat
Paul McDonnell

Possibly someone from Occasional Press…?

I also plan to do a design walk myself in order to relate this research to my own practice. I’ve taken street style photography before in other cities but perhaps now is the time to revisit this part of my practice. I am looking at publications as a practice to highlight the multiple voices in local design. Interviewing as a method is a large part of my overall practice at the moment, I am doing this for Directed Studies also and so I’m hoping that this will inform my interviews for this Whisper series.