The striking images of Designtex’s latest RINEKWALL wallcovering product
have thrust designer John Rinek into the limelight. This young designer, who holds a passion for travel and photography, clearly brings a unique artistic eye to the interior design field. Contract magazine
recently caught up with Rinek to explore his thoughts on design, style, and what his plans are for the future.
1. As a young professional who is already successfully making an impact on the design world, what do you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success?
The biggest factor has been working with interior designer, Dana Agamalian, my business partner in RINEKWALL. Dana came to me with the idea of creating a seamlessly repeating photographic wallcovering. I thought it was a great idea, something neither of us had seen before. Our minds were flooded with design ideas and we worked on creating a collection to bring to the marketplace. Our talents complement each other to create a successful partnership: With Dana’s avant-garde interior design sense and my talents as a photographer and digital imaging artist, we create designs that are both innovative and applicable to any interior space. Having a great partner, and fortunately getting noticed for the right reasons by the right company, Designtex, has lead to where I am now.
2. What challenges do you face when designing with digital photography? And why do you think people have been so receptive to these types of images in your work?
Creating designs that work when viewed up close and from a distance is challenging. Each design is different and there is a lot of trial and error involved in the process. We have a very eclectic collection of designs and different people are drawn to different images. In general they are impressed with the tactile imagery and the unique, seamlessly repeating aspect of the designs.
3. What has been the biggest compliment and the biggest criticism that you have received?
Being recognized by the design world for creating something new and different has been the greatest compliment. Some people have been critical of our more eccentric designs, but that is to be expected.
4. What inspires your photography? And how do you determine what images will bring mass appeal?
The inspiration for my designs comes from various sources. While traveling through Spain I was captivated by the intricate ceramic tile designs on the walls of The Alhambra and other Moorish palaces. These inspirations helped me create our Andalucía Collection from images of the surfaces. For our Siam Collection, I traveled to Thailand to photograph the elaborately decorated walls of the Royal Palace in Bangkok. With her interior design expertise, Dana is great at gauging how a design will be received in the marketplace and we have created designs that will appeal to a wide audience. However, we stay true to our artistic selves and create some atypical designs, as well.
5. What has been your favorite project to date?
We recently did a project for Google in which they installed our Baby Tears design (shown right) onto acoustical disk that hang from the ceiling in their headquarters’ café. It was an inventive application of our wallcovering and the green plant design printed on the “green” substrate, Duraprene, reflected Google’s sustainable building practices.
6. When did you first find your love for photography?
I grew up a block from the beach and started surfing at a young age. When I was 14 years old, I broke my ankle skateboarding and couldn’t surf for a few months. I still went to the beach everyday to watch the waves. One day I borrowed my mother’s camera and took it to the beach with me. I remember thinking it was magic. I could capture a moment in time, the way I perceived it, and look at it later. I soon set up a darkroom in my bathroom, with an enlarger on the sink counter and trays of chemicals in the bathtub. I spent hours in the dark, printing, experimenting with different techniques, and developing my own style. My passion grew as I continued to study art in school and as a professional.
7. If someone were to describe your design style in five words, what would those five words to be?
Avant-garde. Innovative. International. Organic. Elegant.
8. Any new projects in the works that you can share?
I currently am working on more designs for the Siam Collection. Dana and I are going through thousands of photographs of gilded, jeweled, and glass-tiled walls, determining which images will work well as designs. We will add the designs to the collection as they are created.
9. What are your plans for the future? Where do you hope to be in 10 years?
In the near future, my focus is getting our designs out to the world through Designtex. In the long term, I plan to continue to push the boundaries of what can be done with photography as a design medium. I have just begun to discover what is possible.