Design Is A Good IDeaAccording to their Facebook page, Design is a good idea “is an international design resource, which also operates as a graphic/interior/product design studio and showroom based in Johannesburg.” I caught up with Bruce Cowie – the ‘Evangelist at Design is a good idea’ – about the company, himself and all other things design. Check it out…

So, Bruce…who are you?

I am a designer and illustrator… and sometimes musician and other things. I have a company called Design is a good idea, and we also have a website that is kind of closely linked to our store concept, and functions as a monthly magazine, with photo shoots of interesting people and products. We usually collaborate with other creative people on these projects.

Always been a Jozi boy?

Yes… always. :)

What are you all about?

I’m about noticing and promoting interesting things that other people forget to notice.

Tell me about Design is a Good Idea?

I was working as a designer at a little company called ‘thnkyvrymh’… and I originally started Design is a good idea as a Facebook Group to just share deign related info and interesting stuff with fellow creatives. The group was a success and led to all sorts of interesting idea’s and proposals, so it became a full time project.

What were some of the main highlights of 2010 ?

Firstly, we’ve launched a new website, which functions more like a Blog, and we don’t really do the ‘Storefront’ photo shoots we used to do. We wanted our site to be more user friendly and functional. Secondly, we launched a new brand called Hilton Qiu, and are currently in production with various limited edition pieces, check out Design Is A Good Idea for more info. We have acquired the Sole Distribution Rights in South Africa for John Brauer’s award winning range of products designed for Essey® in Germany, which we are very excited about.

Design is a good idea now also stocks a broad range of Muji products, previously unavailable in SA (even though they have a huge cult following). We now have a much better selection of locally designed stuff, which is nice because when we first opened the shop we only had imported items and couldn’t secure any decent local work. There are also some great pieces from Disturbance, Magpie, Hart and some very talented students who are making amazing stuff under the name ‘Collective Efforts’.

Where is the design industry going, and who is taking it there?

The design industry is always changing and evolving because of new technologies… but at the end of the day, good design is good design. It doesn’t really make a difference if its print design, or industrial design, or web design, or motion works for TV and film… if it’s good, it’s relevant.

Design – in JHB – what makes it uniquely JHB?

I think these days, everything is more global and everyone is being influenced by the same things worldwide. I don’t really think there’s a specific ‘JHB Design Style’, or anything like that… most of the designers I talk to here daily all know about the same stuff, and aren’t really that hung up on trying to be ‘Joburg Designers’ or ‘African designers’…

What inspires you?

Music mostly…. art…. film…. designers like Michael C. Place (Build), Non-Format… Experimental Jetset…

Who do you aspire to?

Nobody specific, maybe Stanley Kubrick… he always had a very clear vision and put his own unique stamp on everything he ever did.

Can you see a significant connection between SA design & the social environment in which we live? How is this expressed?

I think that when people try too hard to be ‘African’, it usually comes across as patronizing and cheesy. There are a lot of people making more effort to consider the environment, but that is also a global trend.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

Probably spending 24 hours standing outside a record store in London trying to meet Aphex Twin and Chris Cunningham, and then finding out that they were actually never even there. ;)

Your dream project?

Music packaging for Sonic Youth… collaboration with my heroes.

One thing you would like to tell all those ambitious young artists out there?

Just Redo It™.

What’s next for Bruce?

A very large coffee.