Q&A with Product Design Manager Michael Talbot
What made you interested in working with HanStone?
The Quality. The opportunity to be part of a driven and determined team that is dedicated to their craft is the reason I am here. Good design is all around us, but great design is much more elusive. It begins with a quality product and can only be brought to life with the nurturing of countless people. The result is a quality product that is just as beautiful years from now as it was on the day it was installed. HanStone is great design.
What are you most excited about with your new position at HanStone?
The Journey. In full discloser, this is the first time I will be designing with quartz as my medium. At its root, design is the creation of balance. My background in commercial & residential interiors and product design has taught me to view the components of our built environment through the various lens; from how building products interact with each other to how people interact with these materials. It is this understanding that will allow me to pinpoint exactly what role HanStone needs to play in these spaces. For instance, if the walls and flooring speak loudly, then our product should be quiet to create a harmonious, balanced space. It is what I have yet to learn that will be my greatest asset, allowing me the freedom to design freely without preconceived notions of what is and isn’t possible; a journey of discovery.
What are you looking to accomplish in your new position?
Humble Confidence. I seek to seamlessly weave together people and their environment. While the application of quartz is diverse, it is most prevalent in kitchens and baths. These spaces are the mainstays of the home. The kitchen, the heart of the home from which nourishment stems and the bath, where we ready ourselves to be presented to the world. With HanStone, my desire is to create products that quietly support everyday life so that you can live beautifully.
What design trends are you seeing right now in the residential space?
Restorative Retreat. We are subject to a barrage of visual, mental, & emotional stimulation the moment we wake. From social media to the umpteen rows of packaged goods at the grocery. Our home is the one place we can edit to quiet our minds. This desire to create calm can be seen in the monochromatic palettes of homes today. Color, if used is added with great intention, allowing visual space for what is truly important in life to shine the brightest; may it be nature’s palette flooding through the window or even the floral arrangement nearby.
What design trends are you seeing right now in the commercial space?
We are seeing the trends prevalent in residential making their way into all commercial design segments including corporate, healthcare, retail, and even higher education. Spaces are tactile and texturally interesting. The inclusion of elements echoing nature and use of neutral palettes are used to evoke warmth and comfort. The atmosphere is quiet, allowing people and their talents to stand out and be celebrated.
What inspires you?
Inspiration comes in all forms, but the most valued form comes from the words of others. We are ultimately building products for people to use, so it is only fitting to listen to their feedback. It is through these moments that new ideas are sparked.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Evolving. Just as I change and grow as a person so does my design aesthetic. The constant throughout this progression is the desire to simplify. Design is addictive by nature, so I think in terms of how much can be taken away and still tell the story we set out to tell. While this applies to aspects of both product and interior design, I can paint the picture best through the analogy of designing a room. You begin with the architectural details, layer in lighting, rugs, furniture, and décor. If each of these layers speaks loudly, the space is visually cluttered before adding everyday life like remote controls, mail, or people. If you keep everything simple along the way, when all the parts come together there is still room for life to happen. The simplest solution is the best solution.
What are the key elements of great design?
Reflective. Intentional. Distinct. Timeless. Great design solves a problem. It reflects the user, not the designer themselves. It is intentional and focused so that the solution provided is simple and intuitive. It is distinct and confident, yet humble and approachable.
What is your process for coming up with new ideas for product designs?
Design is such a fickle creature. There are rules, but to be great they must be broken. There are definitions, but ultimately design is undefined. There are processes, but the path to completion is never direct. It’s an exploration, an adventure, and no two designs start nor are finished by the same process. Design is the work of an artist.
Where do you see quartz designs in the next few years?
Experimental. While nature will always play an integral role in quartz, it is a material born of the earth, I believe we will see a departure from designs trying to closely mimic nature and an emergence of designs seeking nature as its foundation. I have countless thoughts running through my head, but only time will tell which of them will make it to fruition.
How does being LEED accredited and NCIDQ licensed set you apart in the design world?
I do not believe having credentials is an indicator of one’s ability to create great design. There are a vast number of designers out there without these credentials that have far superior design knowledge and know-how than I do. What I do hope it shows is the dedication to my craft, a thirst for knowledge, and a willingness to always be a student.
More About Michael
As Product Design Manager, Michael is responsible for market trend analysis and recommendations for new product design and development, involving color as well as texture, in all three areas: flooring, quartz (HanStone), and solid surface (Hanex) countertop solutions. Michael is an NCIDQ licensed Interior Designer and LEED Accredited Professional with a diverse design background. His extensive knowledge of design and science of the built environment are the result of his ventures in product design and both commercial & residential interiors.
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