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INTERVIEW 04 It's What's Underneath That Counts: WILLIAM HOLTAM

Next in our interview series we caught up with Mr William Holtam, French-speaking Welshman, designer, Rapha ambassador and model. We spent a morning with him at Kenure House, Notting Hill courtesy of Echlin Studios to hear a bit more about what makes him tick.

1. How did you get into design?

I was always interested in design from a very young age, I spent a lot of my youth growing up outside in Scotland. I liked to document and collect things. I studied art foundation in Cardiff at first, I didn't know what area of design I wanted to go into. I was interested in architecture, but then got involved in graphic design. I had this connection with branding and identity. Following a year there, I studied at Falmouth University - which I feel very privileged to have studied there. It is renowned as being one of best, but the location is mesmerising. It is so close to the sea and countryside. Incredible to have the beach on your doorstep. I managed to get some surfing in down there from time to time and explore the local area. The natural world can influence so many ideas.

2. What are your biggest influences for design?

The beauty of art and design is that there are so many different areas. Product, graphic, architecture, fine art, typography, the list goes on. One of my favourite influencers would have to be Josef Albers. I am fascinated by his experimentation with colour and abstract painting. It's that whole connection and era with the Bauhaus - their principles and philosophy within art and design is captivating.

3. Thing you're most proud of in your career so far?

I was fortunate to work at Le Studio Be-Poles in Paris for 2 years. I had a great connection with the founder Antoine Ricardou, and he simply gave me a week's trial to see how I would get on. I managed to stay! With time I had the chance to work on the project S.D.S La Salle de Sport with Reebok. It is an urban sports complex at Boulevard de Madeleine. I worked on the artistic direction and identity. It was a dream project - and was great to leave a piece of my artistic contribution in Paris.

4. What's your connection to cycling and Rapha?

My connection with Rapha started when I was living and working in Paris. I was out cycling with the locals, then made friends and connections with people. I was approached by Rapha then. It's been a great privilege to be part of the brand, and I am fortunate that I am continuing the relationship here in London. I organise rides and get others engaged with the sport. Friday we usually do laps around Regent's Park (early birds) at 6:00am, then have a quick coffee. Saturdays we do the Clubhouse ride. We set off from Rapha at the Soho Clubhouse and head off into Kent. It's a great way to meet new people.

5. Do you find it easy to sleep, how do you unwind?

It depends what is on your mind, most of the time yes. I just get stuck into a book for 20 minutes. I try to not look at screens after a certain a certain hour.

6. What does a holiday look like for you?

My last holiday was a trip to Mallorca with an old friend. It was spontaneous. We were just having a coffee and talked about planning a trip. Then we discovered the GR221 route that goes along the coast of Mallorca. It was a boyhood adventure. No tent, no plan just our rucksacks and a sleeping bag and off! There was one day, where we found an amazing ridge on the coast. There was no one around and I just remember the sunset with the reeds and a light breeze and the goats bells ringing momentarily in the background. The best things in life cost you nothing. We did indulge the last night in a top hotel in Palma before heading home. The receptionist laughed when she saw us, I think we looked like goats ourselves.

7. What are you working on currently?

I have been working on some really exciting projects recently and they are kind of under wraps. One for a well know fashion retailer and the other one is for a publication called Chaos69 Magazine with Suburbia studio. My working day, it depends if I am working in a studio or not. At the moment, it's pretty much straight into it - conceptual thinking and designing. Usually sketching a few ideas before heading onto the Mac.

8. What are you reading at the moment?

At the moment I am currently reading The Story of Everest by Murray, W.H and I recently finished The Ways of Seeing by John Berger which is about how we look at art and one of the most enlightening books I've read.

9. Favourite Hamilton and Hare piece?

I like the simplicity of Hamilton and Hare, classic but very contemporary. I like the boxer short - classic white. There is nothing better than putting on a pair of fresh white boxers.

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