Dubai-Based 'Designtrepreneur' Esra Lemmens On Entrepreneurship And The Evolving Role Of A Designer

BY Esra Lemmens / Aug 6 2019 / 22:40 PM

"It’s surprising in a world that is so technologically driven to see a recent spiked interest in craftsmanship"

Dubai-Based 'Designtrepreneur' Esra Lemmens On Entrepreneurship And The Evolving Role Of A Designer
Courtesy of Esra Lemmens
founder of Esra Lemmens Agency Esra Lemmens

It’s no secret that postmodern society is saturated with media. Our roles are continuously subject to change, shifting to meet new demands in order to accommodate new technology and a faster work ethic. A designer’s role has become subject to the same, and in an industry where it’s so easy to call yourself an entrepreneur, the following defines the multitude of areas today’s designers must concern themselves with. These are the new “designtrepreneurs.”

It’s surprising in a world that is so technologically driven to see a recent spiked interest in craftsmanship. Consumers still want hand-made products with an avant-garde design that are one-of-a-kind. And with the increased pressures of production cycles, creating such items as designers did previously is a challenge. Craftsmanship is still heavily romanticized. 

The hand-made product is not dead; it is very much alive. Without a doubt, the people who acquire such products have incredible purchasing power. They thus possess an inner drive to be more distinctive through personalization without losing communal goals. Because of this growing consumer behavior, niche brands and bespoke designs are leading the way as driving factors of the industry. Of course, luxury-oriented consumers have an eye for better quality and the new generation is rather design savvy. Not to mention, they have travelled immensely and are in search of unmatched experiences and, in search of constant fulfillment.

Simone Crestani’s Eterea console table © Alberto Parise. Courtesy of Esra Lemmens

In an age so heavily characterized by virtuality, it is fascinating to see new discussions emerging surrounding the ‘material mind’ once again. Referred to as ‘New Materialism’, this distinct philosophy supports mindfulness of matter. This philosophy supports the idea that physical matter has its own mind, force, and that by the mere power of these substances, mental and physical processes take form.

It emphasises the bonds that people will need in order to survive in a virtual and ever-more-connected world. Digital natives do not only accept technology, they expect it. This leads young designs to create based on connections rather than designing for efficiency or convenience. Without stronger relationships, a human being’s perception of interaction and responsiveness can become warped. We must keep our relationships mental and physical alive.

Contrary to people’s belief about postmodern society, it hasn’t alienated the designer from what they create. Looking at it in terms of a single designer who creates a template and thousands of manufacturers who replicate the design is a faulty perspective. On the contrary, design, like other visual art forms, leans towards a traditional approach that embraces new advances. Hence, designers today remodel mechanical tools to create new products; employ 3D printers to enhance their designs; and reprogramme archaic robot technology to construct craft-based designs.

Max Lipsey’s Woven Bench © Casper Sejersen. Courtesy of Esra Lemmens

In this way, machines are no longer a rare additive to creativity from the maker, but rather a designer’s handmaid that advances, develops, enable and is wholly necessary to the creative process. Centuries ago, designers were just the creators, and up until a few decades ago, they acted as the mind behind a particular design. Now, things are even more dynamic, with designers more involved than ever in the production process. They now pay greater attention to the contribution of its physical structure.

The priority is no longer how a certain something looks or works, but the role that it plays in a community and how it benefits views of sustainability.

To read the full feature, pick up the Summer 2019 issue of Harper's Bazaar

Esra Lemmens is the founder of Esra Lemmens Agency in Dubai. She also formed part of the expert panel alongside Giulio Cappellini, David Alhadeff of The Future Perfect and Alessandro Valenti of Elle Decor for the inaugural edition of Edit Napoli

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