Three Cannes Lions design jury members discuss key moments and turning points in their careers.
This is when…
With Cannes Lions launching a new Product Design entry category this year, we asked three of the inaugural jury members to share their personal journeys with design. Here, they relate some of their most memorable career-deciding moments, sharing the sparks behind their initial interest in the field and insights into how their understanding has evolved since then.
…the fascination began
Sometime in the late 1950s BMW tried introducing the Isetta to the USA. The Isetta is an extremely small car, different from the behemoth cars being designed and sold in the US at the time. As a child sitting in the back seat of our family’s car heading into Manhattan, I saw a billboard near the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel advertising the car. It showed a woman getting out of (as I recall) a red Isetta – through its front door! It was strange. I was fascinated.
In Spring 2001, at 14 years old, living in rural Northern Ireland I saw clips of Alexander McQueen’s Spring Summer 2001 show on the news and was fascinated. I knew there and then that is where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do.
I was eight and living in Germany when a national competition was announced to design a self-propelled vehicle to travel down a 10m track and burst a line of balloons. Architects and designers fall into one of two camps when fondly recounting their childhood toys: the Lego camp or the Meccano camp. However, I created what you might call a battery-powered ‘Legano’ or ‘Meccego’ hybrid car. Sadly I didn’t manage to pop any balloons, but I can still recall my amazement at seeing all the different solutions to an identical problem.
…my path was decided
My first design job out of college was with the office of legendary designer Eliot Noyes, which had been designing for IBM for decades. I was hired on a temporary basis to help out with a new project – a computer for the home. At the time the thought of a computer in the home was bizarre. The project was insanely confidential, with very good reason given IBM’s mega-influential position at the time. Our designs greatly influenced the first IBM computer introduced in 1981; although to be more “home friendly” we created one in beige, one in red, and one in a (real wood) teak cabinet.
Having seen my Central Saint Martins graduate collection in 2009 for which I won the Womenswear designer of the year award, Nova Dando invited me to be part of a show at the Victoria & Albert Museum. It was the height of the recession and younger designers were at the bottom of almost everyone’s lists so the inclusion of my work really gave me encouragement to constantly look and move forward.
After leaving school I enrolled on the Art Foundation course at Chelsea in London. Until then my obsessions were painting, drawing and photography, but I had started to lose focus. After an excruciating two week experience with graphic design it dawned on me that I needed to make physical things. Suddenly everything became new and exciting again! At that point there were really only two options, sculpture or product design. To this day my work reflects both disciplines by combining a strong narrative with an innovative and practical function.
…I was reminded that it was all worthwhile
Working with Ford Motor Company to design an interface for an automobile instrument cluster, their directive called for establishing an “emotional connection” with drivers – meaning splashy screens and graphics. We reframed the assignment, suggesting we could aim to help drivers save fuel. By providing feedback to the driver not just on the car’s performance, but also on their own performance, we could help them to drive more efficiently. The end result was a dramatic improvement in fuel efficiency, for some drivers 25% or more.
I returned to New York in 2011 after previously spending a year there as an apprentice during my degree. I had produced a small collection and in the September 8th edition of the New York Times I was featured with the headline: A Fresh Face Is at Home In New York.
In 2006 I launched the Anglepoise Fifty lamp for the eponymous company. The original Anglepoise was a response to the disruption of shadows when working on drawing boards. The Anglepoise Fifty was designed to go next to a computer, illuminating a working area whilst bouncing light off a wall for a relaxing ambiance. It appeared frozen at a 50 degree angle, its form evocative of a plaster cast to remove an old archaeological relic from the ground. Nominated for the inaugural Designs of the Year at London’s Design Museum, my proudest moment came when it was selected for the museum’s collection.
Find out more about the Cannes Lions product design jury, the entry process and the exciting content taking place at the festival this June at canneslions.com.