Desert Island Desks with Wendy James

With qualifications as both an architect and a nurse, Wendy James specialises in healthcare and wellbeing design at HKS and enjoys the challenges of transforming clinical processes into effective architectural designs.


Without hesitation, the first item I would pack would be my music collection. I cannot and will not live without it. Maybe I’ll finally cough up for a music streaming subscription since I assume there will be no record shops on this island. Does Amazon deliver there?

This American Life

All of it. I refuse to believe there’s a better radio show out there. A friend introduced me to it four years ago and I’ve now finally listened to every archived episode. It’s been going since 1995 and is some of the best, most captivating radio journalism going. Any fears I’d have regarding surviving on a desert island would instantly disappear once the calming narration of Ira Glass kicked in.


I’ll need something with which to play my music (and place my Amazon orders), so I might as well bring my phone along. There’s power and a WiFi signal, right? I was a late adopter of the smartphone, having only ditched my 10-year old Sony Ericsson last year – and now I’d rather not go back to life without it.


I was never much of a reader – ‘I can read, but I choose not to’, was something I’d say. After all, why read when you can listen to music? Or do pilates? Or put salt in your eye? One of the great things about This American Life is that it introduced me to a slew of great authors – David Sedaris being the first and my favourite. Now I’ve always got at least one book on the go.

Hudson’s Bay Point Blanket

An iconic Canadian design. I had wanted one of these wool blankets for years and when I left Canada for the UK, my incredibly generous former colleagues all pitched in and got me one as a leaving gift. I treasure it. It will keep me warm on the cold island nights by the campfire.

First Aid Kit (not the band)

Complete with sunscreen and broad spectrum of antibiotics. My years spent working as an emergency room nurse have made me realise the Boy Scouts were onto something – always be prepared.

Burberry Trench Coat

I’ve always wanted one – and if this is my opportunity to finally get one, free of charge, virtual or not, I’m taking it. The Sandringham in red, please!