“Creativity is not about creating, but about thinking.” Constantinos Hoursoglou likes to understand and master everything surrounding him. The art of reflecting, asking questions and asking them again is what he aims to teach his students.
For this BTEC programme director, it is essential to learn to multiply your viewpoints to see the world differently. You have to look “at the sides,” to paraphrase his favourite book, The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher, one of the most influential and prolific English designers of the past 50 years.
As a teenager Constantinos looked around him and saw his future. Growing up surrounded by beautiful Scandinavian works, he realised that they were first imagined and then drawn before being created, and he discovered that some people even made this their job.
What does Constantinos Hoursoglou like the most about design? The conception, the moment when he chooses the medium, the technology and finding the most suitable manufacturing processes for the project. In other words, the decisive instant when you have to look at the sides.
An article in a trade magazine confirmed it. You don't need to be a master at drawing to become a designer. “I couldn't draw very well, but I had ideas and I could think analytically,” he confides.
To understand how things are made he left Greece at the age of 19. Next stop: England. At the University of Sunderland he received his bachelor's degree in design and product management. After a one-year internship at a research and development agency, he continued his studies at the prestigious Royal College of Art in London where he obtained his Master's Degree in Industrial Design. This was the key to opening the door to a large London design agency. “But I quickly learned that in big organisations you don't move up fast enough...”
The catalyst was in New York, where he followed his future wife. There he met the famous designer Ayse Birsel, and then, at only 25 years old, became the head designer for a living legend: the iconoclastic Karim Rashid. He worked at Rashid's side for Sony, Prada, Issey Miyake, Tommy Hilfiger, Guzzini... “It was an extraordinary learning period,” he says, still amazed at the importance of the responsibilities he had back in the day. “You think you can do anything after that, but then you come back to Europe and you realise it's not going to be easy.”
And then, Europe called him back. Obligatory military service in Northern Greece for 18 months could not stop Sergeant Hoursoglou from thinking, though. He competed in several competitions and used his creativity to design six adapters to attach modern night goggles to old assault rifles, and he won a one-month leave in New York!
After the military he set up his own company and joined the University of the Aegean to teach industrial design. He was part of the 2004 Athens Olympics team and designed the podiums and boxes for the Olympic medals.
Three years later he moved to Geneva and continued his design career, winning many more prestigious prizes including the 2011 Red Dot. “But I'm not an artist,” he makes clear. He draws and designs for function and for the end user without aesthetics being his priority.