Chatting “Normal” With Ross McBride

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Designer Ross McBride creates products to become extensions of ourselves, bolstering the unique individual living inside us all. His innovative work of his Normal watches brand as well as furniture, product and interior creations have made waves across the World of exemplary design. Ross took the time out of his busy schedule to chat with us on what he perceives as “normal.”

1 – “culture – race – experience – genre – DNA – education – age – income – status – 6,832,041,288 types of normal”

What is your type of normal?

I have always agreed that variety is the spice of life, so I enjoy experiencing many things even if they don’t mesh with my personal taste. As a designer, having an awareness of a wide spectrum of ideas can only make you a stronger designer. However, I try to establish a firm wall between public, and private. When I go out, I like to experience extremes, and be surprised, but my home is my sanctuary. At home, I want to be in complete control. I want to surround myself only with things I have chosen, or designed myself.

With regard to the things I surround myself with in my home, I can say two things:

The products I buy, I choose for their quality and their design. I do not care about their brand value. In fact, I hate having other company’s branding all over my stuff. It is like having little advertisements all over my home. If it is removable, I will often take off the brand logo. I want my home to be a completely logo-free zone.

The things we choose to surround ourselves with should be easy to use but do not have to be obvious. I think most objects for home use are blatantly designed for the lowest common denominator. I understand that a fire extinguisher in a public space, by necessity, must be obvious. Anyone, from any culture should be able to use it quickly without thought. In our homes however, conspicuousness can be replaced with familiarity. A light switch does not have to look like a light switch, it just has to function like one. I prefer, for example, a light switch that is integrated into the overall design of the room – perhaps even one that is invisible – to an ubiquitous wall switch that is stuck on as an afterthought.

2 – I’m sure using chopsticks have become your go-to eating utensil since living in Japan. What would a pair of extra normal chopsticks look like?

Hard to improve on the chopsticks. I don’t think I would attempt it. They are generally already in tune with my design aesthetic in that they are minimal in form, and honest in the use of their materials.

3 – After living there for so many years, what characteristics of Japanese design do you most admire?

Minimalism. Craftsmanship. Quality of materials. Attention to detail.

4 – I love your ripple design. How could you see it becoming another product besides what it is? If you were asked to make it another product, what would you see it becoming?

I am interested in the ripple form, because it is common in nature, but can also be described by a simple mathematic equation. Perhaps this is why it is inherently beautiful. I have tried to apply it to other products with varying levels of success. It is easy to simply use a ripple motif as surface treatment but without adding any functionality to the product, it would simply be decoration for decoration’s sake. The closest I came was perhaps a lighting fixture that used a doughnut florescent tube. The diameter of the tube matched the pitch of the ripple, and fit nicely into one of its crests.

Actually, Ripple already went through one metamorphosis. It was originally designed only as a table centerpiece. During one of its first presentations, I laid out a bunch of prototypes on the floor, butted up against each other. The client and I realized that it made an interesting pattern, so we adapted Ripple to be mountable on a wall.

5 – What’s on your itunes playlist?

I am always slightly behind the curve. The Velvet Underground is my all-time favorite though I never listened to them real-time, and I’ve just recently discovered the Pixies.

6 – What was your most outrageous or crazy Halloween costume?

Not much Halloween action in Japan, but in college I made a box-like helmet with eye-holes. Drawing pads were mounted on all four sides, and it had a pencil attached by a string. The other partygoers were free to draw whatever character they saw fit.

7 – What’s your ideal phone/gadget?

I recently bought a Sony Personal 3D Viewer to use it mainly with my Xbox. It has amazingly good image quality, but of course you can’t help but look ridiculous wearing it, and it is completely anti-social.

8 – Name your favorite dish.

That would have to be lasagna.

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