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Design Thinking - Interview with Mark Radina of 'Radina Glass Studio'

We met with Mark Radina of Radina Glass studio a few days ago. We also visited his stained glass studio where he not only creates new stained glass art but also helps restore many classic stained glass installations. Even though he has been involved with restoration of numerous marquee stained glass installations including the buildings designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright, these days he is focused on new designs moving towards more contemporary, Art Nuevo, curvilinear patterns and designs.

We were interested to understand his influences and how he became successful at his craft and business. We also asked him about what aspiring designers should do to become successful not only at stained glass art but also in being more creative.

In his artwork, Mark starts with an idea. He told us that he challenges himself constantly and thinks outside the box and goes beyond the typical design patterns. He is proud that he has also been able to visualize, design and build what has not been done before i.e. he has been very creative and inventive in his profession.

He is constantly looking for new ideas and visual patterns – sometimes he has found inspiration in movies such as Robots, Rise of the guardians, Hobbit, Lord of the Rings etc. He also draws inspiration, ideas and something new to learn from his contemporary designers as well.

Once an idea is developed, he leverages his drawing skills to draw the scaled model – he uses math to get the scaled model of the design right. Once the scaled model meets his approval, he develops the full scale design which then leads to choosing the glass from his extensive repository of glass collection. After that it’s off to cutting the glass as per the design and bringing the design to life by joining the glass pieces. Mark has also developed some inventive and unique spiral patterns with lead that he has embedded in his designs.

Since all his designs have to integrate with either pre-existing architecture or new buildings, he has to understand the engineering, fit of design and architecture too to ensure his creations will fit perfectly within rest of the building.

He told us that he does not consider his business as a job but it is his passion for the art, craft and engineering involved in stained glass. He believes that he would not have been as successful if he did not have the passion for it.

His recommendations to young designers and aspiring artists:

  • Challenge yourself; never be complacent; keep doing better than last time

  • Have passion for Art and Creativity

  • Be methodical and don’t take shortcuts with design

  • Keep learning, don’t be satisfied, look for new ideas

  • Don’t be afraid to experiment

  • Experiment, study Math, Design and Color

You can watch the interview here:

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