Skills set

Share this

Who are the people behind those fantastic products? We asked the leading manufacturers and product design studios to allow these talented folk to take a few minutes away from their next innovations and give us a small insight into their work, their inspirations and, of course, their favourite tunes!

catherine bw

Catherine Hawcroft, Knightsbridge Furniture

The most recent product you worked on?
I’ve been working with David Fox to develop Bebop Modular for Knightsbridge Furniture, which was launched at CDW.

Most challenging/interesting issue facing the design industry now?
As designers increasingly utilise the fantastic visualisation and simulation tools available, we risk neglecting the most invaluable method of communication and evaluation we have; the physical prototype.

Which is the favourite product you have designed (not with current company)?
Balance Stool for Herman Miller. Simple and versatile; it was a great little project for a prestigious brand.

What is your current favourite music track?
Cupid by The Big Moon. Four talented women having a blast and making amazing music.

A designer or design period you refer to the most?
For me it still always comes back to Le Corbusier. The idea of furniture as an extension of the human form, ‘a docile servant’, remains central to my design thinking.


image002

Paul Crofts, Isomi

Most recent product?
Mono Desk for Isomi. For me, this project represents the best synergy of a concept and a material process.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
These days, designers need to have the ability to communicate months of work and thinking into a single image that will make an instant impact on social media!

Favourite product you designed?
Nonla Light – I enjoyed the process of taking a product from concept, through all the processes, to selling it under my own brand. It was a great challenge to resolve all issues including warehousing, distribution, packaging, CE testing and so on.

Most played music track?
I’m currently listening to my brother Nick Crofts’s latest track, Carry Me, from the album Heart Years.

Designer/design period you refer to?
Brutalism. My pieces in concrete for Isomi are very much inspired by this architectural movement – and I’m currently designing the restaurant at Theatre Royal Plymouth with reference to Brutalism. I love all the details in the Barbican, National Theatre and Royal Festival Hall.


DSC_7967[2]Phil Hallett, Orangebox

Most recent product?
The design and development of Eva, which is our latest task chair. It places greater emphasis on user experience and comfort while upholding our commitment to leading by example in environmentally responsible product design and manufacture.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
Designing workplace solutions that can keep up with the fast-paced technological changes to our working habits.

Favourite product you designed?
Having worked for Orangebox since graduating from university, I’ve only ever designed products for Orangebox.

Most played music track?
The album Love & Hate by Michael Kiwanuka

Designer/design period you refer to?
I don’t knowingly refer to a particular design period all that much but I admire the work of mid-20th century designers. Dieter Rams’ 10 principles of good design has always been a foundation for me.


Rebecca Sykes Profile Image bwRebecca Sykes, New Design Group

Most recent product?
Trio – a set of fun breakout and café tables with bright and contrasting colours are the most recent products I have worked on.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
One of the most interesting challenges as a designer is keeping abreast of new and emerging advances in technology and making use of these to improve my work as a designer.

Favourite product you designed?
Fleur – A light feature intentionally designed to make use of 3D printing.

Most played music track?
Pineapple Head – Crowded House.

Designer/design period you refer to?
Charles and Ray Eames.


Scott Matthews 2017 - BW

Scott Matthews, CMD

Most recent product?
Chip, inspired by the shift we’re seeing in the delivery of power to modern working environments.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
With the digitisation of our work flow, ‘design’ is increasingly critiqued on its 2D values. It’s important that holistic thinking isn’t lost in the pursuit for seductive imagery.

Favourite product you designed?
I once created and modelled a range of small hydro chromatic creatures – which was great fun.

Most played music track?
Blue Orchid – The White Stripes.

Designer/design period you refer to?
Natao Fukasawa.


Pratti BW

Hernan Pratti, Iconar Design Studio

Most recent product?
An evolution of the rainbow armchair. The idea that was taking shape responded to the need to optimise the minimum spaces, where the same product can be an armchair or cushion.

Favourite product you designed?
My favourite design is the spoon for paediatric syrup. It is a complete product, from the concept to the market – we control the entire process. It was exported throughout Latin America and we even sent samples to Germany. It was a product that brought me many joys and awards.

Most played music track?
Esperanza Spalding – I Know You Know.

Designer/design period you refer to?
My favourite designer is Chen Zhun.


Morten NikolajsenMorten Nikolajsen, Mohoni Studio

Most recent product?
A complete office furniture collection made primarily in solid wood for HOWE and an upholstered storage cabinet family for Naughtone.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
Environmental friendliness! We care about our world and we have a desire for quality, natural materials, good design and functionality. We want to design and buy long lasting products!

Favourite product you designed?
Our house – although it gets pretty tough when you realise exactly how much of a perfectionist you really are.

Most played music track?
Starting a good day with Paul Desmond and later listening to Kings of Lion for a good work pace – and ending the day with a dance with my three year old daughter listening to Prince’s Purple Rain.

Designer/design period you refer to?
I admire many designers. Dieter Rams is probably my favourite.


team photoSimon Bibby/CBS Design Team, Colebrook Bosson Saunders

Most recent product?
Ollin monitor arm with its unique power source –an innovation we are really proud of.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
Rapidly changing technology, global economics, and working patterns are a few of the current challenges. On the flip-side these also provide exciting opportunities and directions for our future design developments.

Favourite product you designed?
Having a multi-disciplinary R&D team, this ranges from office chairs, roof racks, motorbike helmets, through to intercity concept trains. This wide ranging experience provides a vast amount of knowledge and helps to inform and strengthen all of our development projects.

Most played music track?
A wide range in the studio – but we do enjoy a bit of Portuguese music chosen by our Portuguese designer, Bruno, from time to time! The current favourite is Capitão Fausto by Morro na Praia.

Designer/design period you refer to?
Dieter Rams is one that immediately springs to mind. We feel the methodology and design approach is still as current today as it was 50-60 years ago. There’s a strong synergy with the design ethos we have at Colebrook Bosson Saunders.


Karl Anderson, Gresham Office Furniture

Most recent product?
Families of products including tables, seating and enclosures that embrace the current workplace culture of `away-from-desk’ activities.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
Keeping pace with technological advancements and consumer desires to integrate them into every aspect of their lives, whilst trying to reduce any new product’s impact on the environment.

Favourite product you designed?
A lighting control system, the design of which involved marvellous exercises into aesthetics, ergonomics, electronics, materials and processes. Every designer’s dream!

Most played music track?
Always: Dakota by the Stereophonics. Currently: Nature Boy (Acoustic) by Aurora – haunting but isn’t long enough.

Designer/design period you refer to?
Syd Mead – though a ‘futurist illustrator’, his iconic view and designs are fantastic.


DylanFreeth Portrait B+WDylan Freeth, ecrol furniture

Most recent product?
The Luca tables and Lara stacking chairs and bar stools – a range of solid ash furniture designed for use in cafés and restaurants.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
I think the uncertainty around Brexit is challenging for all of the industry. I think the softening and domestification of the workplace is very interesting, and a real opportunity for a manufacturer like ercol, who combine technology and traditional craft.

Favourite product you designed?
X Hook for Habitat – it was my first piece that went into production, and was the love-child of a hook and a coat hanger.

Most played music track?
90% Of Me by Gwen McRae. Definitely one of my desert island discs.

Designer/design period you refer to?
Achille Castiglioni/Hans Wegner – two masters of construction, material design and architecture.They developed a new attitude and direction and created a new modernity.


Jehs_Laub_78738_quer_highresJurgen Laub, Jehs+Laub

Most recent product?
halm for Brunner. The amazing thing about halm is its practically seamless transition from solid wood to plastic.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
The intelligent use of resources will influence the design of new products in all categories. We should use as little as possible and use the product for as long as possible.

Favourite product you designed?
PILL for Authentics. The archetypal shape is reminiscent of the oval round metal hot-water bottles of bygone days. The funnel is simply pushed into the hot-water bottle and is completely concealed.

Most played music track?
Benjamin Clementine by Nemesis.

Designer/design period you refer to?
Ray and Charles Eames.


Paula Sousa_profilePaula Sousa, Munna and Ginger & Jagger

Most recent product?
I did a rework on a folding screen I designed a while ago. The Let’s Play Folding Screen replaces the geometrical upholstered panels with silver leaf.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
It’s a world where people have access to everything at the palm of their hands, new or old. To create something unique is not enough. Design has to have a story to tell.

Favourite product you designed?
The one I haven’t designed yet! I usually don’t dwell in the past, I strive to create more and better.

Most played music track?
The song we made for Munna, called Device of Love. ‘We are love devices’. It’s so catchy!

Designer/design period you refer to?
The artistic movements from the 20th century play a big part amongst our influences, especially music, art and film. It can be something as simple as a movie scene, a picture or a fashion outfit, as long as it is something meaningful to me.


Karen Nybo bwKaren Nybo, ege carpets

Most recent product?
Taking their successful and long-standing collaboration to the next level, Monsieur Christian Lacroix and ege carpets now enter the floor together with a collection of expressive and rich carpet designs – Atelier.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
The corporations popping up everywhere between artists and companies make room for never seen before concepts and products. It is very interesting, and sometimes also challenging, to transform art into a commercial product – but the outcome is amazing and definitely worth the effort.

Favourite product you designed?
Jewellery with a strong personal touch under the concept ‘sarcastic housewife’ – for instance, knitted bracelets with small plastic dogs attached to them. Tell a story that can be interpreted in hundreds of ways.

Most played music track?
Techno and flow radio when on the go.

Designer/design period you refer to?
Art Nouveau and Art Deco.


Catherine Counsell bwCatherine Counsell, Camira

Most recent product?
Wool/flax blend Patina. An innovative, beautiful and sustainable fabric created by our very talented design team.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
Lack of investment at training/research/innovation level. Interesting – designing for an ever more diverse workforce demographic. Hugely important – design which protects our planet.

Favourite product you designed?
A sweater for River Island. I chased someone I saw wearing it to tell them I’d designed it!

Most played music track?
I’ve been rediscovering some old favourites recently, so listening to The Ramones and Manics a lot at the moment.

Designer/design period you refer to?
I always seem to circle back to the Art Deco movement. I adore the opulent structure and geometry of the architecture, which reflected the optimism and freedom felt by people after the austerity of the First World War. I also love that they were influenced by Ancient Egyptian pattern, with designers referencing the past in order to create an enduring design principle.


Katerina Zachariades

Katerina Zachariades, Morgan Furniture

Most recent product?
The Goodwood collection, which has a distinctive arm detail, inspired by freeform art mobiles and timber sculptures.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
Intellectual property – how do we protect new ideas from instant copying?

Favourite product you designed?
A suspended, brass rod light that hung like a mobile.

Most played music track?
Acoustic Alchemy – The Wind of Change. Beautiful acoustic guitar in a jazz context.

Designer/design period you refer to?
The Bauhaus movement of the 1920’s. Art, manufacturing, graphic design, architecture – all developed a new attitude and direction and created a new modernity.


Mel_HollandMel Holland, Johnson Tiles

Most recent product?
Chartwell, one of my favourite tile designs to date. A gloss tile with a reactive finish creates a distressed and handcrafted look in natural shades, inspired by the Scandinavian interior trend.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
The threat of global competition with a strong focus on price. We view competition as a challenge and, in response, strive to stand out. Technology is constantly changing and with our investment in new machinery we ensure that our products are of the highest quality and most trailblazing design.

Favourite product you designed?
Prior to working at Johnson Tiles, I was a freelance tableware designer.

Most played music track?
The majority of music I listen to is on a local radio station, which I hear to and from work. My favourites are Ed Sheeran and Human by Rag’n’Bone Man.

Designer/design period you refer to?
David Hicks – an English interior designer, noted for using vivid colour, and mixing antique and modern furnishings. And the Arts and Craft movement is very inspirational.


170206_Thomas Dienes-096Dr. Thomas Dienes, USM Group

Most recent product?
USM Haller E, opening a new world for a highly modular classic furniture system by integrating light and energy directly into the structure of its furniture – completely wirelessly.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
The fast changing world brings totally new conditions and possibilities versus the search of human beings for individualism, orientation and simplification in their environment.

Favourite product you designed?
Before 2000, together with an interdisciplinary research team, designing, building up and testing a laboratory for future working.

Most played music track?
Udo Lindenberg, Mein Ding.

Designer/design period you refer to?
Architect Fritz Haller and the Bauhaus period.


Mosa Design Team, Mosa

Most recent product?
A series of floortiles in size 60x60cm. Changing of the light during the day will subtly change the colourtone of the ceramic tiles.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
Mireille: Ceramic tiles are often used as a base to print a copy of other materials, like wood, on top. Instead, it is our goal and challenge to stay close to the natural and beautiful effects of ceramics and to enhance this by creating designs using f.e. – the natural falling of the pigmented clay granulates.
José: Preventing of climate change and responding to the upcoming consequences of it by innovative ideas and products. The design industry can make the difference!

Favourite product you designed?
Mireille: For my graduation at Design Academy Eindhoven I designed a room divider which consists of multiple, thin, diamond-shaped elements that can be individually rotated 360° around their axis. The screen is named Facet and is available at Bloomming.com

Most played music track?
Mireille: Jack Johnson – Better Together. Anything by Jack Johnson makes me happy!
José: Music that directly vibrates the soul, Massive Attack – Safe From Harm.

Designer/design period you refer to?
Mireille: Almost a century old, but a lot of Bauhaus designs are still clever, simple and beautiful.


Bob Muir, Product Designer at Godfrey SyrettBob Muir, Godfrey & Syrett

Most recent product?
Harry and Ken tables and stools – an ode to our founders, Godfrey & Syrett, in our 70th year.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
One of the main challenges of being a designer now is being able to get away from a screen. There’s nothing better than a day in a workshop or factory.

Favourite product you designed?
A toaster I created at university, which was designed to be easily repaired and maintained.

Most played music track?
Childish Gambino – Redbone

Designer/design period you refer to?
Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec


Hart Miller Design_John MillerHart Miller Design_Anna Hart

Anna Hart/John miller, Hart Miller Design

Most recent product?
Alf bar stool – a stool in staggered heights, encouraging variation in work and social settings.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
We’re designing in a time supported by an array of reference images drawn from all corners of the globe. This challenges the role of designers in pushing their clients to trust them in taking forward an idea if no reference images are available – when a vision and a sketch would be the blueprint. We debate whether this leads us all to designing in circles, slower at moving forward.

Favourite product you designed?
Anna: TV stand at school in DT – first realisation that design and realisation of a product was a rewarding process.
John: I designed a table called the Moo table, which never went into production. It was quite sculptural, in fact it was inspired by some Michael Craig-Martin sculptures. The sculptural aspect also lent the table its function, which is what I liked about it.

Most played music track?
Anna: On repeat request from my five year old son – Bruce Springsteen, Downbound Train.
John: Been listening to a lot of 1920’s jazz and recently discovered Gunhild Carling, an amazing Swedish multi-instrumentalist. As seen on YouTube with Postmodern Jukebox.

Designer/design period you refer to?
Anna: I don’t have a default set of references for design work as the context is so varied. Most recently, the Barbican exhibition – Japanese House – has been very relevant to a hotel spa project we’ve been researching.
John: I am inspired by the 1960’s, by the speed with which designers and manufacturers were reacting to technical innovations. For example, Robin Day designed the Polyprop chair the year after the material was discovered – and it was in mass production within another year.


Trevor BloxhamTrevor Bloxham, Nomique

Most recent product?
I created a bespoke collection of soft seating for one of our clients – increasingly customers want products with their own identity.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
The rapidly changing technology within the workplace and home environments, results in a need for a faster turnaround in design development.

Favourite product you designed?
The most unusual and atypical product I designed was the Turbocast 800, which is a towable winter grit spreader. This combined a technically demanding product with one that had to be easy to operate in challenging environments.

Most played music track?
Nefertiti – Miles Davis.

Designer/design period you refer to?
There are designers and design periods I admire but I am more interested in what is happening now and what the future holds for design.


Sarah Ludlam, Forbo Flooring Systems

Most recent product?
Tessera In Touch carpet tiles; this collection promotes the harmony between work-life and life-work, taking inspiration from craft textiles and hand weaves.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
The most challenging issue at the moment is the underestimated role of flooring within any interior scheme and its ability to make an amazing contribution to the workplace experience. The most interesting is to see how we can change this perception.

Favourite product you designed?
I started out as a woven textile designer and had to design a blanket for Concorde, which involved plenty of research on Concorde itself. I always felt it was a privilege to work (even though it was in the tiniest way) with this iconic plane.

Most played music track?
St Germain Tourist (the whole album). 17 years and I’m still listening!

Designer/design period you refer to?
I am currently inspired by brutalist architecture. I think the powerful combination of light, shadow, scale and close texture creates amazing dynamic interest and controversy.

Most recent product?

A cabinet I designed and made for an exhibition.

Challenges facing the design industry now?

Brexit is going to be a big challenge, so many designers collaborate across European borders and British firms have established long-standing relationships with some great manufacturers in Europe.


SarahKaySarah Kay, Sarah Kay

Favourite product you designed?
Torque Box, inspired by a doorway in Morocco. I wanted to capture the same tension and intrigue.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
Brexit is going to be a big challenge, so many designers collaborate across European borders and British firms have established long-standing relationships with some great manufacturers in Europe.

Most played music track?
You Want It Darker by Leonard Cohen.

Designer/design period you refer to?
Probably Charles and Ray Eames, if I had to choose.


LUCYD Portrait_15Barbara Ambrosz, Lucy.D

Most recent product?
m.zone: Elements like room deviders and modular pieces of furniture are combined to create individual environments for new working spaces.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
We are involved in an EU-granted artistic research project for robotic production together with the University of Applied Arts Vienna and Robots in Architecture.

Favourite product you designed?
A spoon for Alessi enabling a new ritual for the consumption of tea from tea bags.

Most played music track?
Mulatu Astatke – Ethiopian Jazz musician from the ’60’s

Designer/design period you refer to?
We are very open minded to clever and beautiful daily objects – at the moment, Carl Auböck, an Austrian Designer from the 1940’s is inspiring us!


2017 Ineke Hans portrait by Lennard HeijerIneke Hans, Ineke Hans Studio

Most recent product?
I just launched FLIX with Hitch Mylius: a playful flexible upholstery system for today’s very varied work environments.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
Producing less and meaningful. Becoming more hybrid: designers working in different areas of design and products performing in a flexible and hybrid way in smaller spaces. Dealing with digital: living, working, sales, promotion and production.

Favourite product you designed?
As difficult as having to pick your favourite child! Meaningful: Fogo Island projects. Technically: Ahrend chair A380.

Most played music track?
Ella Fitzgerald – A-Tisket, A-Tasket

Designer/design period you refer to?
Designer Gerrit Rietveld. Design period: NOW!


Team 2ABarry Jenkins, BroomeJenkins

Most recent product?
Our most recent design launch is Bedouin for Icon; a floor standing screen with an integral canopy. The aim is to provide a flexible acoustic solution that can be placed and relocated at will by sliding them into a variety of positions. We will have the opportunity to talk about our most recent designs once they are launched later this year.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
Being original and justifying continual product development is a real challenge for designers. Given the number of manufacturers worldwide making furniture, few of them can be considered innovators and even fewer invest in using new processes and materials that will drive challenging projects. To a lesser or greater extent, furniture is a fashion item that conforms to a limited range of functional needs. For all those engaged in designing, making and selling furniture, there is clearly a commercial imperative. The need for new product will therefore remain, but keeping it fresh, relevant to user needs and environmentally sustainable will be key.

Favourite product you designed?
Hard question. It’s like asking a parent which their favourite child is! But either Deploy, designed for Boss, or Meet U, designed for Burgess, would be in there. Both have Design Guild Marks, include original ideas, work very well and, of course, look good.

Most played music track?
In the age of streaming, the studio has abdicated its choice of music to a random and very eclectic selection found online.

Designer/design period you refer to?
Our approach does not attempt to apply style as a formula. Each brief has its own solution and we do not have a house style. However, we are influenced by several designers for their rational industrial approach, such as Antonio Citterio, Dieter Rams and Charles Eames.


Mesve Vardar, Humanscale

Most recent product?
We have been working on our latest sit/stand solutions as well as performance task lighting.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
Designing lasting, efficient and less wasteful products while still relating to contemporary culture.

Most played music track?
Don’t You Wait by Solange.

Designer/design period you refer to?
Dieter Rams.


ClaireOBrien_portrait bwClarie O’Brien, British Ceramic Tile 

Most recent product?
Ted Baker – a modern varied patchwork and a mini geo with bags of surface interest.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
In a world where most things are disposable, the challenge is to create products in keeping with people’s lifestyles without compromising the process of great design.

Favourite product you designed?
A very classical wallpaper – simple and elegant two tone ogee. It still looks great now, nearly 15 years later.

Most played music track?
I’m always listening to music, so that one’s difficult  – but Michael Kiwanuka’s Love and Hate. He was fantastic live.

Designer/design period you refer to?
The Art Deco period. It is a fantastic combination of modernist styles with fine craftsmanship. It exuded a sense of grandeur – characterised by smooth lines and geometric forms.


MarloesMarloes Jongen, DESSO

Most recent product?
I recently worked on the design of the new DESSO Make It Your Own collection and my main focus was on the Stitch carpet tile.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
There has recently been a major revival of the artisan and crafts industry. Crafts are being redefined, resulting in new opportunities and opening up a new-found respect for everything handmade.

Favourite product you designed?
I worked on a textile art project called Wings, which was nominated for the Valcellina award – an award that recognises and promotes textile arts.

Most played music track?
Bumaye by Typhoon – a Dutch hip-hop artist with Caribbean and classical influences.

Designer/design period you refer to?
I like the design trends that are emerging now. We get to see the old and the new merge, as artisan crafts are being acknowledged and combined with new groundbreaking technologies.


Anthony Hickman bwAnthony Hickman, Ulster Carpets

Most recent product?
A bespoke, woven axminster carpet for the Hoxton in Shoreditch. It’s been great working with such a current, design-led company!

Challenges facing the design industry now?
Nowadays every job is so different that you have to be extremely adaptable and have an answer for everything that is asked of you.

Favourite product you designed?
I helped a friend design a set of golf clubs by doing the branding, engraving and logo – and recently hand delivered a set to Rory McIlroy’s team!

Most played music track?
Kings of Leon’s latest album – Walls.

Designer/design period you refer to?
Picasso – I studied his work whilst at university and was very inspired by the cubism period.


Nicolette de Waart, Design by nico

Most recent product?
Poppy Bloom Stool. Soft. Pure. Feminine. Inviting. And versatile. A unique piece that will flourish in any interior – home, office or hotel. Inspiration for the Poppy Bloom Stool: Poppies are cup-shaped, magical flowers and very colourful. Besides their medicinal and edible qualities, they also symbolise very deep emotions and it is one of the most widely used symbolic flowers around the world.

Challenges facing the design industry now?
In this ever-changing world, my aim is to create unique designs and products that are as functional and hard wearing as they are beautiful to look at  –but above all I want them to stand the test of time.

Favourite product you designed?
An outdoor kitchen trolley.

Most played music track?
Macy Gray.

Designer/design period you refer to?
Mid-modern contemporary period.