Meet the professionals: Christopher Radcliffe MA FCSD
Christopher Radcliffe MA FCSD has gone from being part of the wellie booted farming stock to pursuing Art & Design and is now the head of interior design at Maber Architects. We hear a little about his journey and he answers some of our questions about the industry.
Christopher started his education at a three F’s (Farming, Factory or Forces) Country Secondary School in Nantwich, but after a chance viewing of one of his oil paintings at his parental home, by a college professor, he secured a place at the local FE College and two years later completed an art foundation course in Northwich. Following this he decided to study Interior Design at, what was then Nottingham Trent Polytechnic. And so his career in design began.
During his BAHons Interior Design course he gained a placement at an architectural firm in Newbury called Lyons Sleeman & Hoare, fronted by Max Lyons. Christopher described a memory from his time there.
“He once asked for some office development external elevations to be rendered in a variety of colours for a pitch. In itself a simple request, yet ambiguous to a fresh faced designer. Brown and green cladding panels were fine but colour had been requested. Some experiments were laid out on the table; blues, reds, various shades of green and a brave combination of powder blue and shocking pink. The comments were certainly coloured from Mr Lyons. Then, in almost the same breath, he said ‘Brilliant, I can see what you have done, give me the blue and pink also that green and brown option’. We won the job. Lesson learnt it’s not what you present sometimes; it’s how you present it.”
During the mid 90’s Christopher worked as retail and commercial interior designer for Benoy, during which time he worked on the Bluewater Shopping Centre and described the interiors project as ‘the largest challenge to date in that it involved a holistic approach’. Amongst an array of various jobs all over the country he has worked for Tony & Guy, heading their salon design office and for Fairhurst Architects, heading up their interior team.
Tony & Guy Leeds and Nottingham Salons
Opportunities then presented themselves to Christopher back in Nottingham, when Maber Architects offered him a place on their interior team. He has now been there for 10 years, working primarily for their educational sector, where schemes such as the Roundhouse for Derby College have won several prestigious awards.
Christopher’s project for Center Parcs Woburn (2015). Interior design for a variety of leisure focused environments
We asked Christopher a few questions about the industry, some tips for those starting out in an interior career and why he joined the Society.
What are the biggest challenges in your work?
The brief. Interpreting it, questioning it, challenging it and answering it.
Making judgements about cost and value. They are quite different. Understanding what those differences are and understanding that different members of the design team will apportion / attribute conflicting weights to both cost and value is a challenge, but worth it.
What are the biggest rewards in your work?
A positive response and the occasional smile from an end user and the knowledge that a design has helped an organisation, a business, an individual in some way.
Do you employ graduates and if yes what is it that you look for in a candidate?
Yes we do, as workload permits. What we look for in a candidate is a willingness to get stuck-in at all levels, from coffee to completion. Also the ability to think through the end of a writing / drawing implement.
What advice would you give upcoming designers?
Stay with it. Draw (hand or CAD / CGI), write (hand or qwerty) and talk (on your hind legs or via social media). In essence, communicate, by whatever means at your disposal, but do it with love for your chosen profession. Be inspired and inspiring but above all, think sideways.
What made you join the Society?
The connection to like-minded others. A sense of the CSD finger touching the pulse of the zeitgeist. Communication in a community. It’s our professional body with a global reach.