Mistakes are important and useful in the creative process and it is important to learn from them, says Tom Strala in the interview he gave to the Kuca stil, during the Belgrade Design Week.

The common way of thinking and repeating the same patterns are not producing creative ideas. Therefore, one should allow himself mistakes while working, but also learn from it in order to create valuable works, works that enrich this world. Creativity should be nurtured, emphasized the Swiss designer Tom Strala at the beginning of the interview for magazine Kuca stil during the Belgrade Design Week (BDW) in 2014.

In his lecture at already famous BDW, he shared his thoughts and experiences with young designers and design enthusiasts. He talked very inspirationally about his philosophical views on the world of design, the importance of failures and lessons learned, as well as the process of creating. In a lecture he wove many curiosities from his ten-year career.

Given that he is an architect and in his first architectural projects he was quickly confronted with the fact that in this business there is no room for mistakes and retry. So he turned to the design and already in operation on his first product – the lamps, he realized that it better corresponds his sensibilities. Today, he loves his freedom to create and to make mistakes, because it refreshes his creative ideas.

Where do you get inspiration for your work?

Inspiration comes from many sides. Once while in the bathroom or in the bar, once during the talks as this stands with you, when produced in interaction with another person. When thinking about what people told you, develop ideas and create something interesting and new… However, most of the time you fail. I have many projects in which I did not achieve a satisfactory result. In my work I take failures very seriously – when we are under constant pressure to succeed, we become incapable of creating.

Do you find the inspiration for the forms in nature or in artificial forms?

For me, the design comes from the mind and the heart. When I like the form I see, I’m thinking a lot about it, do not copy it just because I like it. To create, I need to understand what I like about the form that inspired me, and to develop that idea.

During your lecture, you talked about the failures in the creative process. Is this advice for young designers – not to be discouraged by failures, but to see them as an opportunity for improvement in the process of creation?

I think it’s good for all the people in the world if they can make mistakes! This is not only in design, but everywhere where there is pressure to achieve results – when you just tick performed tasks. The consequence is that it does not create anything new, but the world is only maintained as it is. It is for me a reason why the failures are very important, from them man learns to be better and to improve their work.

Do you remember the first product you created? Would you something to change of it now?

I remember, it was a nice iron lamp. It is interesting for me that lamp and all my previous works are completed design venture. When I created an object, I lost interest in it.

What is the main goal you want to achieve by products you design?

I want to push the boundaries of imagination. The reason is simple – the feeling is perfect when you can do that, when you get into a position that you can come up and make something new. That feeling that the world is spreading is amazing! When you’re a kid, you think that the world is large, and as you grow up, travel and meet people … the world is decreasing for you. So when you create an object, the world gets bigger, so you feel like a kid again.



In your opinion, what is the most important thing in expressing creativity through design?

In Switzerland there is a little different opinion than one I represent – I think that it is more important that students and young people in general know to think about the process of creation, rather than just adopt skills. I do not like to give general advice, but when I look at the work of somebody, I like to talk to that person about work and creativity express through this work.

Where does the road that leads to success in the world of design begin?

When I think what it is that someone needs to do to be successful, I realize that there are several things to pay attention to, but there is no magic formula for success.

Following some advice, however, it is possible to increase chance of reaching success for yourself. When you are
new one in this business in Serbia, participation at the
event “Belgrade Design Week” is a very good start. You
see professionals from all over the world, very well versed
in business, and they are willing to talk and share their experiences. You can make contacts and possible cooperation with them, and they can look at your work and discuss them. This is a really good platform through which you can connect with the companies as well, which is a great way to start a career.

How do you direct the urge to express yourself?

The need to express yourself is very important. When you feel like you want to do something but you can’t find a way – those are just thoughts that are pushed forward. Constantly thinking about how to express yourself, how to do something in a different way and get good results. Many times I manage to express myself, but many times not.

It is believed that 90% of the cases that we use in everyday life are actually designed products, and that we aren’t even realizing it. Do you believe that designed products we use every day should be functional or beautiful?

There are many things that are functional, and also beautiful, so it begs the question what is essentially the functionality. The functionality in the design may imply that it is not used more material than what we need, or that some product is very convenient to use and it fits nicely in the hand. The designer decides what is functional for him, and then explains to the audience what it is that makes his work functional and exceptional. Each designer creates the rules according to their own vision.

How someone can today be unique and create something that was never seen before?

If I’d know that, I’d be very rich now.

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Belgrade truly touched and moved me. It is difficult to describe feelings that overow me. Your desire to bring people together, your dedication and commitment to an idea, the need to look the people in the eye, the inner beauty I have encountered here, all is so sincere and real. There are not many such places on the planet. Please, invite me again!