London – Happier with a spreadsheet than a 3D modelling program, Christopher Jenner has a distinctly hands-on approach to running his business. The South African designer takes Frame through his day.
CHRISTOPHER JENNER: I get up at 6.10 a.m. and I go to the gym for about an hour and a half. The night before I’ve soaked a quarter-cup of chia seeds in water. When I get back, I put them in a blender with an equal amount of flax seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Before leaving for work I blend them with two whole lemons and a teaspoon of spirulina, and I drink the mix. It’s completely foul and the texture is shocking, but it’s all about getting alkaline in your body and taking away acid. I’ve been doing it for years.
I’m less interested in a brief and more interested in exploring what I want to create
8.15 a.m. I leave the house and cycle to work. I get to the studio around 15 minutes later – I live in Shepherd’s Bush so it’s really close. I’ve been in this space for seven years. I like it because it’s on the third floor so I have a nice view. I took it mostly for functional reasons – the aesthetic of my office isn’t as important as the aesthetic of my work. It doesn’t really matter to me how it looks, although it probably matters to other people. I’ve currently got eight staff. I don’t want a studio with lots of people – too many people are a distraction to the working process.
11 a.m. Every day is complete chaos. Everything is flying at you all the time, but I try to create a bit of structure by doing admin until lunchtime and the creative part of my work in the afternoon. I do all the admin myself – I run my business, I don’t have other people running it for me. I know exactly what’s happening with all my projects all the time, everywhere. And I like it that way. I’m highly organized – and really good with a spreadsheet.
The whole point of being a designer is knowledge
1 p.m. Lunchtime. I’ve stopped eating meat and I feel amazing. I have a salad at my desk. I take a bit of time to look at the news – I’m obsessed with the politics in my home country, South Africa. What’s going on there is a soap opera of the most alarming dimensions.
2 p.m. When I’m designing, I start by drawing. I can’t work on computers. I don’t do 3D modelling programs or anything like that. I’ll use drawings on a couple of sheets of paper – multiple views, elevations, side elevations, plan, perspective – to illustrate a particular concept or product, and then I’ll brief my team with that. They put my ideas into 3D modelling. The guys that work for me are unbelievable, I honestly think I have the best people working here – their scope is phenomenal. After that it’s a matter of working with them through the process, refining things. It’s often really difficult to get an idea that’s crystallized in my mind onto a piece of paper and into the computer.
Right now I’m definitely looking at form in a much deeper way. I’m less interested in a brief and more interested in exploring what I want to create. For me, the whole point of being a designer is knowledge – being able to acquire knowledge and adding that to your repertoire.
7-8 p.m. I finish work. When I’m not working, I enjoy cooking. I know how to cook a broad range of dishes from many different cultures. I love watching TV, particularly box sets, which I know is, like, the biggest sin in the world. I’m completely boring really. I listen to German techno and psychedelic trance. And on the weekend I desperately try to find a good coffee in West London, which is a challenge.
11.30 p.m. I go to bed. I’m so sad! But that’s how it is.