Michelle Huertas of A Bit Slow is a former Sydney-based designer, now in NZ, who specialises in slow design. She was interviewed a few weeks ago for this article on Reportage.
So… maybe if you want to start out with telling me a bit more on what you’re working on at the moment.
I’m branching out into furniture, objects and jewellery design and some photography work at the moment, so sort of getting into the details of interiors.
I take old furniture, not necessarily antiques, but furniture that’s seen better days, pull it apart and put it together so that it still carries that character that it already had but in a more modern and more applicable way to now - sometimes it’s something as simple as just needing re-holstering but other times it’s more about changing the look or the feel of the piece to make it, so I guess it’s like giving them a makeover.
That sounds cool. What do you plan on doing with them? Are you planning to sell them?
At the moment I’m just working on production, so I’ve got a studio full of pieces that I’m working on slowly.
Okay. Focusing on A Bit Slow and slow design, how does slow design compare to the old business model of design?
Depends on what industry you’re in. Production industries have been very much, until recently, about mass-production.
What about in your field, interior design? Because that involves a level of consultation already, doesn’t it?
So the keys to special design are: it has to be functional, it has to work, but it has to be beautiful. It’s all about the solution, so if it solves the plan and it aesthetically workoing, then it’s fine.
They’re the barest elements, obviously. Slow design is adding new elements. Is it sustainable? Is it appropriate? Is it going to slow people down, not in production, but in quality of life?
In my field, it’s also adding a responsibility element because it comes down to the sleection of what furniture is going into the space, how are you going to use the space? Is it going to add or decrease to health? There are a whole heap of new elements that come in to slow design so it’d be great if it was commonplace.
It just sounds like common sense.
It should be. It’s looking at what someone has and re-using it, it’s looking at what they have as a starting point. I think that’s the biggest change. It’s not wasting.
How do you think the Internet has helped the cause of slow design? Do you think without the Internet, doing A Bit Slow would have been a lot harder?
Absolutely, absolutely. No question about it. I think the lack of the Internet would have meant lack of information.
It also means we get to interact with people we wouldn’t have otherwise. We might get a comment or an email from someone who’s in America, or who’s in China, or who’s in South America or Africa. They’re people you wouldn’t meet on the streets, and it’s great to be able to get a communication happening.
What about in terms of slow design being a sustainable business model?
In terms of making money and being able to support the business, I think the Internet helps a lot. We have Skype meetings now, with me being in New Zealand.
And it means we get to meet the client, to get briefs and discussion. So I think the Internet opens up that avenue, we’re not limited to just clients from this country and it also helps obviously with us, with getting projects sorted amongst ourselves and I think obviously having the blog and the website is also a way for people to get to know us. When you have a business model like A Bit Slow, it’s not just that product, it’s not just the service, it’s about people trusting you.
Do you think that clients like being able to get know you more?
I think it gives us a face, we’re not just a business card or a logo, and I think even in the posts, they really get to know our personalities a bit more. It’s not just a professional portfolio, it’s also about looking at who we are.
Especially for clients who are interested in getting into slow design, it’s such a new field that they need to be able to trust us, and to know that it applies to them, and that it’s not going to change their business. It’s not going to slow them down, it’s not going to ruin their bottom line.