Desert Island Desks with Simon Jackson

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After many years working for large corporate design firms, Simon Jackson has now set up his own design consultancy collective (sjjdc limited), undertaking in-depth research, strategy and change management and full interior design services in predominantly the office sector.

‘When Mr Jordan asked me to contribute to this piece I decided to be quite personal, a little tongue in cheek and self-deprecating (maybe raise a smile) but hopefully all mixed up with a bit of discernment,’ Simon tells us. ‘I’ve embraced the concept of the Desert Island, so what I’m taking is, to a degree, in context.’

1. Chair

Anyone who knows me would appreciate I don’t sit down much (ants in my pants, as my grandmother used to say) so when I do sit I want to appreciate the experience. There are so many great modern chairs to choose from but I think I’d take a classic – I considered Mies’ Brno, an elegant and beautifully engineered design, but once it was placed on the sand it would be even more difficult to move about than in normal application! So I’ve opted for the Eames Lounge Chair. This chair was (initially) designed for the Director, Billy Wilder, a rather portly chap, hence the generous proportions of the design. When I first sat in the chair, many years ago, you could fit three of me in the chair…now it’s probably two – or maybe after the recent festivities it’s a perfect fit!

2. Something for the senses

Sight and touch are more than covered by the location – the amazing landscapes and the feel of sand between one’s toes. The island would no doubt be full of fresh aromas but as my sense of smell is not good I’d need something close at hand with a bit of oomph – so perhaps chilli, coriander and lime, and a bottle of Mezcal just to stimulate the tastebuds. But actually I’d take some joss sticks – I’ve embraced Transendental Meditation and being on a desert island would be a perfect environment to practice the art and the aroma of Agarbatti is a fine complement. Having a few minutes to clear one’s mind at the beginning and end of the day is not only relaxing but also therapeutic – highly recommended.

3. Game

I generally dislike games, especially the ‘charade type’ – just as well being alone on a desert island. But I think I’d need something to keep me amused. I’d probably take a football to practice my ‘keepie uppies’ (doing the one bounce version would keep me going for years). The football is an interesting phenomena – it started life as a pig’s bladder and has evolved into the highly considered aerodynamic design it is today. It now has isotropic material properties with easily predicted flightpath (tell that to a goalkeeper). I wonder how many designers have had a go at this piece of ‘problem solving’? The guys that turned it into an oval rugby ball get my respect…I do hope the latest version of ‘the ball’ works in England’s favour at the World Cup this year…but I expect we’d have more success with the pig’s bladder version.

4. Gadget

I have a partiality to gadgets and on a desert island some useful gadget wouldn’t go amiss – the Leatherman Rebar tool, for example. This is not some weird clandestine pastime by the way, but the US (better) alternative to the Swiss Army Knife. It can do everything from cutting down a banana tree to cleaning sand out of your toenails. But I’d probably settle for a telescope (invented in the 17th century – how incredible is that?). I remember it well! This is not because I’m keen to ensure I don’t miss some potential saviours but to do some star and constellation gazing…imagining there’s a desert island up there with a castaway looking back – a sort of virtual pen pal, sitting on their interstellar classic chair.

5. Book

I’m not an avid reader so I’d have to take a relatively thin book – something like Arsene Wenger’s achievements at Arsenal over the last 10 years, or perhaps I’d take a reprint of my chapter on interior design for the Commercial Offices Handbook – when I need to sleep I could read a couple of pages…

Seriously though, I’d take a classic – and Brave New World would be it. Written by Aldus Huxley and first published in the early 1930’s, this Dystopian novel is not only a great read but also strangely relevant even now…and likely to be even more so in the future; Charlie Brooker eat your heart out – it’s already been done to perfection!

6. Music

I’ve been waiting for the call from BBC R4 for quite a while now and have my list of music tracks compiled – although the list changes every few days. I have very eclectic tastes; from Nat King Cole to Kendrick Lamar and much in-between. I’d have to take a playlist with me that would reflect a wide spectrum. So Marvin Gaye’s ‘Lets Get It On’ and Stones’ ‘Miss You’ are near the top, but also Al Green, Amp Fiddler, a few Beatles tracks, some old skool R&B and Hip Hop and…

7. My work portfolio

I’d take a selection of images from my past work, not for any egocentric reasons, but jut as a reminder of all the hugely talented people I’ve worked with over the years – the challenges met, the fun and laughs and the rewards; what I’ve learnt from others and hopefully what I’ve been able to pass on. And rather self-centredly, I’m very proud of my back catalogue!

After returning (assuming I do get rescued) I’d get back to my mission to push the boundaries, do work that really makes a difference to my clients and their people and continue to embrace the opportunity and privileged position being an interior designer brings to positively effect human behaviour.