Tim Kobe: PDA Juror Interview

11 Jul 2014  •  6 min read

Tim Kobe is founder and CEO of Eight Inc, a branding and design company, with projects in residential and commercial spaces; products and communications. His claim to fame is having conceptualised the original Apple stores, a dream assignment that brought him in close collaboration with the late Steve Jobs. Mr Kobe’s firm has offices in San Francisco, New York, Honolulu, Tokyo, London and Singapore, where he now resides. DesignSingapore Council speaks to him, a juror of the President’s Design Award 2014, to find out the matters close his to heart…

My personal style signifiers are a black T-shirt, the foundation of my wardrobe; and a Panerai watch.

Three places in San Francisco to see and experience world-class architecture or design are the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park by Herzog and de Meuron; the Golden Gate Bridge, remarkable in so many ways;Berkeley, with the residential work of Bernard Maybeck and Julia Morgan, is a wonderful area to experience the values that helped define the architectural heritage of the Bay Area.

I live in a shophouse in Joo Chiat [a precinct in eastern Singapore]. The area is friendly to pedestrians so the social interactions are easier and you build relationships with people. It’s a “real” place to see Singapore.

I’d like to design things that reflect the challenges of our time, things that matter to people.

An aspect of my work that people do not know is to think, drawing is still important.

An artistic pursuit I have not tried but would be keen to do is film-making. Experience is not linear. Illustrating the emotional impact of an event or place is difficult in practices such as architecture or design. The tools we are taught as architects and designers tend to make us focus on form rather than the outcome of an experience.

A recent gift I purchased for my children were wooden blocks and wooden cars to stimulate their imagination.

When I last looked into the mirror, I thought: “I’ve become my father.”

As host to a perfect dinner, my imaginary guests for the table of five at my grandmother’s kitchen-table are Alice Waters, Pablo Picasso, Lee Kuan Yew, and Charles and Ray Eames.

My mother was “right-brain” and taught me to challenge everything and be more expressive through art. My fatherwas “left-brain” and taught me order, pragmatism and to always have a Plan B.

Tim Kobe will speak at Jurors’ Forum II: Can the designer save the world?, 25 July, National Design Centre.

Look out for the next PDA Juror interview: Norihiko Shinya, vice-president, Super Potato.

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