Steve Jones studied Industrial Design before starting a career in consultancy in London. With experience as diverse as ladies shoes, books, toys, and even naval architecture, his interest in design spans all aspects of material and production. He worked extensively in the furniture industry before moving into lighting and forming Innermost with Russell Cameron in 1999.
His influence can be seen in the varied aesthetics of the Innermost ranges, and his involvement in the process is not just a studio based one. Steve is passionate about bringing designers into industry and of ‘keeping the industry relevant and up to date’, something he sees as crucial in the face of social and technological change.
We grabbed him in a rare quiet moment to ask these 10 big questions…
1.You most recently designed Panel. Nice one! What inspired you?
I had created a piece for a restaurant that used a ring structure and brackets to attach a ceramic plate design. It turned out really well and that gave me the basic structure. Sometime ago I was working with a jewellery designer friend from Nigeria and she taught me about matted and brushed surfaces on precious metals. In some ways Panel is a bracelet or bangle but huge in scale.
2.Who would you invite to your dream designer dinner party? (Let’s call it your ‘innerparty’..)
I’d like to pair people up for interesting conversation, Lawrence Llewelyn Bowen would be seated next to John Pawson, Tom Dixon next to Karim Rashid as I’ve always wondered who was taller, Anna Pretty (ex Tom Dixon and Phillips Stark, designer not GF) at my end of the table with Michael Young as we all drink at the same pace and tell loud bawdy stories.
3.What is your favourite piece of architecture?
The blue tiled building down the lower end of Wardour St. I don’t know what it’s called but if you look up its got lovely details on the top floor. It was built about 1900 I’d guess. Tama Art University by Toyo Ito is beautiful. It’s built about 10 years ago and it’ll be contemporary and special forever. Finally Alvar Aalto’s house in Helsinki which I was fortunate enough to be shown around personally, it’s full of his life, little things he made, prototypes that never made it.”
4.What would you name as the most useful piece of tech? Or alternatively the most pointless..?
Most useful would be voice control anything. For environmental reasons I dislike products like shoes with LED lights inside, mostly they are not possible to disassemble and recycle. I don’t mind frivolous and fun but if it’s going to go into the ground batteries, circuits and all to poison us then I think whoever made it should be made to go and dig up each and every one of them.
5.If you could take any found object and make it into a lamp, what would it be?
Can i do the opposite? Could I just get one of Ingo Maurers Campari lamps and crack open the bottles to make Negronis? I think it’s such a brilliant design and I’ve always loved that light – genius.
6. What’s your favourite object from childhood?
My Space 1999 Eagle Transporter. Awesome, best space ship ever made.
7. What’s the funniest or weirdest thing a client has ever asked for or said in a meeting?
‘If this thing can’t at least find Saudi Arabia you are fired’. We were designing a clock that helped worshippers of Islam know prayer times and find the right direction for Mecca. I was straight out of college and working for a consultancy in London. It was a wonderful project that sadly never went into production but had a lot of very passionate people working on it. It’s probably an app now. They were joking when they said it.
8. At innermost we are big fans of the Negroni.. What’s your favourite cocktail?
See my answer to question 5 and desire to deconstruct Campari lamp.
9. What’s the last thing you designed?
I’m working on wall lamp options for Panel right now and smaller versions to be made into table and floor lamps.
10. If you could choose your teachers at Fantasy College – who would you choose to be taught by?
Alvar Aalto, Sir Jonathon Ive, Ettore Sottsass, Florence Knoll and finally Marimekko founders Vilijo and Armi Ratia. This combination of minimalism, humour, innovation and commercial savvy would be great teachers.
You can connect with Steve on Linkedin for more insights and lighting industry articles.