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A coffee with Mark Jol, Design Technician

Q. Hi Mark, what’s your role at Fleetwood and what does it entail day-to-day?

A. Well, let’s say I enjoy a fair bit of variety in my job. My title is Design Technician, which pretty well sums up my experience with the technical aspects of many different building materials, and in collaborating with landscape architects and designers to bring their creative vision to life. Where these two areas meet covers a lot of ground at Fleetwood and underscores what we do so well as a company.

That’s why I’m involved in a broad range of areas including engineering, industrial design, playground design, visual reality, architecture, shop detailing, and working closely with the workshop assembly teams and suppliers to bring everything together and honour the design vision.

This process is really important because our attention to detail in following the design intent is what inspires confidence in the whole process, and lets us provide project certainty to all of our clients and partners.

At Fleetwood, I’m a specialist rather than a manager, but I do mentor people from across the entire company, and I’m happy offering real world, practical advice whenever it is needed. Training a lot of the younger people about construction and what works together, planning and discussing elements of a project with the shop detailers and engineers. Very often this means answering questions about the original design vision and making sure that the creative intent is visualised and translated right the way through to the final product.

Mark discussing designs with Phil Coxall from McGregor + Coxall in our design studio

Q. Your bio on the Fleetwood web site mentions 30 years gaining experience as you’ve worked with steel, concrete, timber, plastics, glass, stone, masonry across rural, domestic, commercial and urban environments. Can you tell us more about your background and exactly how you gained this specialist knowledge?

A. Yeah sure, I’ll give you some history. I began my career as a carpenter/joiner, and part of that included building bridges for Fleetwood as a subcontractor many years ago! Beyond that, I also worked on projects building barns, artworks, and timber homes – quite a bit of interesting variety and this is also where I developed a love of more artistic and creative projects.

After that, I became a Fleetwood employee starting in procurement and then became the manufacturing manager for about five years, which is where I learned more about fabrication, steelwork, and shop detailing. I eventually moved out of this area and more into a design position where I supported our project managers.

This is more or less where I am now, and it’s something of a diplomatic role as I do a lot of liaising between architects and engineers to make sure the design intent is captured correctly, and that the creative vision comes to life in the way that it should.

Engineers are quite rightly focused on structural requirements and safety, whereas architects are more deeply focussed on the creative vision behind a project. They’re coming from two different places, but it’s essential they mesh together perfectly to produce a great outcome. I feel like I understand both sides and am very happy acting as this conduit to make things work and satisfy all parties!

Mark with Travis and Roger from the Fleetwood team

Q. If you could point to one thing, what kind of Fleetwood projects are you most passionate about?

Over the last couple of years, I’ve really been inspired by the bespoke playgrounds and artistic playspaces that we’ve developed, working in partnership with some talented, leading architects and designers. With the amount of experience I now have, I especially enjoy anything that’s more unusual and unique, and these projects certainly fit the bill. Working with interesting textures and materials that are able to give kids and families in the community great memorable experiences, that really gives me a buzz, it’s very satisfying for me personally.

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