Surrounded by various design classics as a child, with a renowned textiles designer for a father, Ian Webster has a natural eye for good quality interior pieces. Here, Futurespace Magazine talks to Webster about his online shop “Dream Icons” and what products really make his creative mind tick.
What makes your site/shop different to others?
Dream Icons is different to other shops because it reflects our taste, values, ideals and passion for design. To put it simply – If we don’t rate it, then we don’t sell it. Having a lifetime spent surrounded by design classics, I am quick to spot that special something in a design and we like to encourage exciting new designers to complement those icons.
At Dream Icons we believe that good design is for everyone, we are not pretentious and love sharing our thoughts with customers who want our opinions – whatever their budget.
What’s the benefit with buying such pieces online opposed to in a shop?
I think online and high street are complimentary and believe the two can exist together. A high street store is great for people who are trying something new, want the “walk around the shop experience” and to walk out with something they didn’t know they wanted in their hand. An online store such as Dream Icons stocks products that are already established as design classics, people initially come to us knowing what they want and once we have the relationship they enquire further and get to buy different things. Add into this equation the convenience of the product delivered to the door very quickly and the whole buying experience becomes stress free.
I also think we have created more of a family of customers, we truly see them as fellow enthusiasts, with which we can share our passion – our customer comments and reviews give us such a boost. I think these special relationships and bonds are different but complimentary to the experience of a shop floor.
You say all of the pieces in the “Dream Icons” collection go through a “rigorous selection criteria”, what does this involve?
The selection criteria begins with assessing the visual appeal and practical functionality and then each design is literally picked apart to make sure that the design will be able to withstand regular use. Once a design has made it past this it will be put on test to see what it is like to live with and only when it has been deemed a success is it allowed into the Dream Icons collection. Megan [Ian's wife and partner in the business], says that I ‘strive for perfection in an imperfect world’ and so we get to use everything we sell, this helps give really good feedback and advice about all the products we stock.
Of the lamps that you sell, why do you stock these brands in particular?
We all adore the Louis Poulsen lamps – where do you want me to start! They are beautiful to look at, exquisitely built by skilled craftsmen and will look as good in 20 years as they do today. I believe strongly in creating designs that stand the test of time. Companies such as Louis Poulsen, Iittala and Alessi create designs to last, that are always in vogue and raise a smile when you walk past them in a room and that is why we stock them, they are a perfect example of a design classic.
The Poul Henningsen PH series of lights in particular strikes a chord with me because I find looking at any bare bulb extremely straining on the eyes and he spent years creating this range of designs to produce glare free lighting. He produced pioneering work concerning the relations between light structures, shadows, glare, and colour reproduction. These lighting theories still form the bedrock of the work practiced by Louis Poulsen Lighting today.
In general, what design styles are particularly popular right now?
We have been noticing a trend towards true design classics with a twist at the moment, designs such as the Louis Poulsen PH50 in chilli red, or the Aalto vase in flaming red, or the Alessi Crevasse vase in blue by Zaha Hadid have been receiving a lot of interest as customers add a little colour for Spring time with a icon of modern design.
What makes a designer stand out for you?
For me, a great designer is one that has vision and can see a beneficial use for an emerging technology, or can create a design that makes you exclaim “why has no one thought of that before”. My views on great design stretch from the blurred areas between art and design, through to the blurred areas between design and pure engineering, so something can be a great design by nature of its beauty being the singular most important aspect or its engineering integrity.