Cristina Esposito You're foremost an architect. How did you get involved in product design?
Katy Ghahremani Ken [Shuttleworth] knew Eddie Heathcote at IzÚ, who approached him to design an ironmongery range - to no particular brief. Ken sent an email around the office asking who was interested. I thought it sounded like fun.
Cristina Esposito How did the idea develop?
Katy Ghahremani Ken made some wooden models and it progressed from there. It's always important for us to make things, not just sketch or draw. That way you can also ensure comfort in use. The range is a simple stainless-steel block system with the components welded and polished. It includes a towel rail, hook and toilet-roll holder. It's a kit of parts, flexible and open to further extension.
Cristina Esposito The range comes in standard and disabled models. Why was that important?
Katy Ghahremani The addition of curved bars for ease of operation was vital. We believe in an interior for all. We spoke a lot with an access consultant. The regulations are vague, but there are a few places where you can submit new products and they will test them for you. We'll be doing that later in the year.
Cristina Esposito Where is the range being specified?
Katy Ghahremani It's going in Dartford Judo Centre, which is a very simple but strong box design. It's interesting that the ironmongery was designed in abstract, and not with a particular market sector in mind. Though it sits there perfectly.
Cristina Esposito How did the relationship with IzÚ work?
Katy Ghahremani We didn't just come up with the design and hand it to them and say 'go and make this'. We got very involved in the technical side. There was dialogue all the way. For example, they recommended the whole piece be welded. We developed the design with the knowledge they gave us.
Cristina Esposito Are you planning to become more involved in product design in the future?
Katy Ghahremani Architects have traditionally designed their own products. I'm working on hotel and retail projects that could lend themselves to more bespoke [product] designs. But it's really important to understand the technology. I wouldn't design a chair without knowing a lot more about ergonomics, for example.
Cristina Esposito So you'd rule out furniture?
Katy Ghahremani Not at all. We've designed our own office desks, which are kitchen-worktop height to encourage and make it easier for colleagues to crowd around them when working together. And for a recent interior fit-out we designed right down to the reception desk and the bespoke joinery. Items that are important in a space should get that level of attention.
Cristina Esposito How do you get inspiration for new designs?
Katy Ghahremani Some are born of necessity. We've created our own PC bracket because most of the stuff available is expensive and badly designed. We wanted something flexible to free up desk space and have designed a simple system of steel, bolts and cables. It tilts, slides, and best of all can be made for around ú25.
NAME: Katy Ghahremani
EDUCATION: Degree at Edinburgh and diploma at the Bartlett
EMPLOYMENT HISTORY: Future Systems in year out, Foster and Partners 1997-2004
KEY DESIGNS: Worked on Electronic Arts HQ in Chertsey, redevelopment of Selfridges on Oxford Street and residential apartments in Belgravia
MOST ADMIRED DESIGNER: The engineers who designed Concorde. It was amazingly engineered yet beautiful and sexy. I was gutted that I never got to fly in it
MOST DISLIKED DESIGN: The PC - why can't PCs be as beautiful as Apples?