People in design: Giles Deacon, Designer

After designing a new sofa for DFS, and showing his latest clothing collection at London Fashion Week, the British fashion designer talks about his early life, inspiration and future plans

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How did you get started in design?

I took an art foundation course in Harrogate. I was one of those hopeless teenage boys who didn’t really know what to do. I wanted to do something creative, but it could have been illustration, animation or film. When I did my art foundation, I absolutely adored the fashion section and my tutors there suggested I apply to Central Saint Martins [College of Art & Design]. One thing led to another, so it has been an interesting ride.

Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind your latest sofa design for DFS?

I wanted the sofa to have clean modern lines and to be instantly recognisable as a statement Giles piece. I worked with the DFS design team and we scanned a load of the illustrations I had done on my iPad and played around with the scale and proportion to create the finished product. I decided I wanted a kind of monochrome pattern underneath and a photographic montage of mountains really worked.

What inspires you?

People are a huge influence on me. I am always interested in characters – they can be as diverse as painters to sheep-farmers with their background. I also like music, art, film – all the regular creative visual things. I spend a lot of time drawing, which is a great way of clearing out the ideas in my head and directing them somewhere two-dimensional, or they run round in my mind all the time. Drawing has been a huge inspiration for me, and it helps a lot in my design work.

Who is your design idol?

There are probably many reasons why I like certain people, but it’s usually because their ideas were ahead of their time. I was hugely influenced by André Courrèges and Pierre Cardin in Paris. Tom Ford, who I worked for, is an incredibly inspiring man in preciseness of vision and what’s workable and viable from a business perspective. Then there are people such as Elsa Schiaparelli. She was one of the first people to work with an artist and did a huge amount of collaborations with Salvador Dali long before collaborations were ever popular; she was a very forward-thinking woman. Coco Chanel was an amazing character, too, with all her preciseness and sense of vision.

What do you like to do to relax?

I love to relax on my sofa. I also swim a lot and hang out with friends, and I love walking around London. Around a year ago, I moved near St Paul’s Cathedral, which is an incredible place to live. At the weekend I like to explore the City [of London], when it’s pretty much empty – you see all sorts of amazing things that you wouldn’t come across if you were racing around on a bike or in a taxi or bus. I am very lucky that I travel a lot with my work and go out in the country at least once or twice every two weeks. I often visit New York and Los Angeles, too, and love spending time there.

What would be your dream project?

A secret unknown project with NASA would be incredible. I’d be briefed on something only NASA knows about in the future, which would be totally surprising and involve a desert somewhere such as Idaho. I am sure NASA has all kinds of materials that we have never seen or heard of, and it probably has a liquid that could form into furniture in its labs.