Inspirational conversations with creators about architecture, art, design, entrepreneurship, fashion, film, music, and pop culture.
“It's all about storytelling. You have to know what makes the beats of a story arc work”
Jon S. Baird
From BBC Television to Hollywood Movie Director, Golden Globe nominee and BAFTA award winner, collaborations with Martin Scorsese, Danny Boyle, Jim Carrey, Mick Jagger and a host of award winning actors, to being one of Britain's most exciting directorial talents.
“Mediocrity hides behind choice. Because if you have too much choice, everything can be mediocre”
Steve Lillywhite is a multi-award winning music-making pioneer and Commander of the Order of the British Empire, whose iconic work spans over four decades, producing over 500 records including The Scream by Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Crossing by Big Country, Peter Gabriel by Peter Gabriel, Sparkle in the Rain by Simple Minds, The Joshua Tree by U2, Naked by Talking Heads, Vauxhall and I by Morrissey. He has been Managing Director of Mercury Records and Senior Vice President of A&R at Columbia Records.
“The better you do your job, the more invisible you as a designer become”
Professor Malcolm Garrett MBE RDI is a graphic designer who has mastered the art and science of creativity, as evidenced by a diverse portfolio that spans four decades creating landmark designs for musicians and bands, including Buzzcocks, Duran Duran, Simple Minds, Boy George, Peter Gabriel, Oasis, and Pulp, and done numerous innovative digital projects with Apple, Virgin, Warner Brothers, Transport for London, Design Manchester, and many more.
“It’s never good to try to mimic or manufacture a style, because it needs to be authentic and develop naturally”
Anita Kunz has created iconic art that has been internationally shown and published for four decades. She is famous for her covers for the New Yorker, Time Magazine, Rolling Stone, the New York Times Magazine, and many others. Her work has appeared in numerous galleries and museums, and she has won many awards for it.
“The purpose of the creative arts is to provide the necessary service to humanity to be entertained”
From Carnegie Mellon University, to working on multiple events for film, television, and comedy specials, Alana Clapp is the General Stage Manager for Mystère at Cirque du Soleil, invoking the imagination, provoking the senses, and evoking people's emotions by facilitating communication across all creative and technical aspects of the performance.
“The harder you work the luckier you get”
From Virgin to Rough Trade, PIAS and Grand Royal Records, then Trust Management by guiding the careers of hundreds of revered artists that have influenced popular culture - The Beastie Boys to Johnny Marr, Ash, We Are Scientists, Dexys and Baxter Dury. Working with artists who received Ivor Novello Awards, Oscar nominations and NME Godlike Genius Awards. Mentoring the next generation of artists, producers and entrepreneurs at the Academy of Contemporary Music.
“Commit and keep going because everyone is going to tell you why you can't do it”
Culture catalyst, music industry entrepreneur, record label owner, and artist manager Alan McGee founded Creation Records in 1983. He nurtured and brought to the masses multiple influential artists who inspired a generation - The Jesus and Mary Chain to Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine, and Oasis.
“It's the power of being the outsider; looking left when others are looking right”
Design pioneer Clive Grinyer is an acknowledged expert in service design, design thinking, digital and technology innovation, and customer experience. He has led award-winning design teams for companies worldwide, including IDEO, and founded the consultancy Tangerine with Apple design chief Sir Jony Ive. He is a trustee of the Royal Society of Arts, a visiting professor at the Glasgow School of Art, and head of the pioneering service design program at the Royal College of Art in London.
“Having a moral grounding as an entrepreneur provides you with an unlimited source for motivation”
Whilst studying for his degree at the Academy of Contemporary Music, Jonathan envisioned and brought to life an innovative venture by reimagining the sustainability and reusability challenges of the fashion industry in an ethical and respectful way.
“Be open, determined, and willing to really push yourself and explore who you are as a person”
Growing up within a Roma Gypsy community in the North East of England fueled Cherry Valentine's creative instincts, a bias for adventure, and freedom for expression, to emerge as an influential voice in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community by combining life experience, curiosity, comedy, and satire into performance art.
“Bring to the table a sensibility of co-design and co-creativity, which understands all the relational issues which climate throws up”
Climate and Creative Practice
Jeremy Till is an architect, educator, and writer. As an architect, he worked with Sarah Wigglesworth Architects on their pioneering building, 9 Stock Orchard Street. As an educator, Till is Head of Central Saint Martins and Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Arts London. As a writer, Till's extensive work includes Flexible Housing, Architecture Depends, and Spatial Agency, all three of which won the RIBA President's Award for Research. He curated the UK Pavilion at the 2006 Venice Architecture Biennale and the 2013 Shenzhen Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism.
“Know your craft, always come prepared, and bring your own unique perspective to the character”
Actor Cathy Murphy, who has gone from being a student at the Sylvia Young Theatre School to Allan Clarke's Made in Britain, Stars of the Roller Skate Disco, Doctor Who, EastEnders, Holby City, Family Affairs, The Phantom of the Opera, Shameless, Extras, About A Boy, Misery, Two Woman, Once A Catholic and many more.
“Resilience, grit, and stubbornness are the secret sauce to keep going”
Bankrupt at 16. Thrown out of college at 18. Joined Saatchi and Saatchi at 21. Had a ball. Left advertising to go back to Wales. Started Howies in 1995. Sold it to Timberland. Left. Started The Do Lectures, which was voted one of the top 10 ideas festivals globally by the Guardian. And in 2012 started a company making jeans called The Hiut Denim Co in his hometown of Cardigan. A town that used to have Britain’s biggest jeans factory. Its purpose is to get 400 people their jobs back. As of today, it now employs 24 people.
“Think of yourself as an artist, first and foremost. Do what you do from an authentic place within yourself”
From forming the Human League, Heaven 17, and British Electric Foundation to record producer, entrepreneur, educator, and activist Martyn Ware is a musical pioneer who has featured on recordings totaling over 50 million sales worldwide across a career than spans four decades.
“Communication is the most critical skill for a product designer - listening to what people say and what they dont”
Ghulam Rasool is a design leader responsible for growing design enablement at Ford, navigating toward an electric, autonomous, and connected vehicle future that benefits society with improved safety, less pollution, freeing up time, and customized services and experiences enabled by intelligent technologies.
“Fight for the art against the tensions that counter it”
From Johnny Marr's Art Director to being part of the curation team that organized and realized True Faith - an exhibition of the artistic legacy and influence of Joy Division and New Order exhibit at the Manchester Art Gallery and Manchester International Festival in 2017. Spearheaded various pop culture archives including the archives of Factory Records, Tony Wilson and Rob Gretton, and his current work on Derek Jarman’s archive for Art Fund UK.
“A positive mind makes better decisions”
From high profile commercials and films to being Johnny Marr's co-producer. Melanie Isaac, Priya Panda and Benjamin Schoos' co-writer and producer. Mixing music for multiple up and coming bands, to being an acclaimed independent artist.
“You need to engage with the whole product development process. To be a dedicated fashion designer, you really want to know why and how things are made”
Professor José Teunissen is Dean of the School of Design and Technology at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London (UAL), and Professor of Fashion Theory. Established the Centre of Expertise Future Makers, dedicated to digital innovation and sustainable solutions for the Fashion discipline. A board member of the Dutch Creative Industries Council, International Federation of Fashion Technology Institutes (IFFTI), International Apparel Federation (IAF), Sonsbeek State of Fashion, and Fashion for Good.
“Having an opportunity to create ideas, concepts, and scenarios that don't actually exist still fascinates me to this day”
Product Design Engineering
Craig Whittet is the Head of the Department for Product Design Engineering, a collaborative program taught at the Glasgow School of Art and the University of Glasgow. He educates, coaches, and mentors the next generation of product design engineers by applying technology to improve the quality of life. This is achieved through design, engineering, and commerce to make products related to human usage, behavior, and appeal.
“Be aware of your own habits, what interests you and what doesn't, be honest about that, and how they relate to a larger audience”
From mainstreaming metrosexuals as a columnist at the late lamented, details magazine, to developing the illusion of reality, as part of the creative team of The Real Housewives franchise, to pioneering content at Polo, Ralph Lauren, and the maker movement as the Managing Director of the iconic This Old House. Scott Omelianuk, now the Editor in Chief of Inc and Inc.com, has built a reputation for defining the culture and using it to the advantage of clients and the benefit of consumers.
“The purpose of a photography assignment is to capture the essence of the subject and make it memorable”
Brian Smale has photographed some of the world's leading businessmen and women, scientists, inventors, and politicians. He has had assignments for magazines such as Fortune, BusinessWeek, Forbes, Fast Company, Esquire, GQ, Rolling Stone, and Spin. His commercial clients include Microsoft, Panasonic, Boeing, Fuji, and Seattle Children's Hospital.
“Reboot your mind to being in an uninterrupted starting place with a fresh perspective”
From building brands in Brazil and the USA, Leticia Pettená has dedicated herself to changing behavior for the better by influencing corporate cultures and societies through strategic focus, creative thinking, and technology innovation, helping the likes of Itaú, Natura, IBM, Nestlé, Rise Ventures, Beleaf, Verde Asset Management, and Beautybox to reimagine their brands.
“Everything begins with real research to frame the problem and understand the context”
Thais Fonseca leads the brand strategy practice at the Brazilian-based creative agency Marcus com SAL. She specializes in turning strategic thinking and creativity into brand love – brought to life across a diverse Brazilian client portfolio, including Grupo Boticário, Beleaf, Beautybox, and Itaú.
“By exploring the methodologies of other designers, you find out how you would fit in and the way you want to work”
Graphic Design & Typography
John Rooney is a Senior Teaching Fellow in Graphic Design and Visual Communication at the University of Leeds. John has run his own design consultancy that included a 12-year creative commission with Tate Gallery Liverpool. He worked with the curators to produce award-winning art books, exhibition newsletters, international gallery and artist advertising campaigns, web design work, and motion graphic projects.
“It's all of these many different forms of adaptation, both big and small, that contribute to what our culture understands as a given work of art”
Kate Newell is Dean of the School of Liberal Arts at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Her research includes adaptation and intersections of literature and visual culture. She is the author of Expanding Adaptation Networks: From Illustration to Novelization.
“You have to keep your ego in check because you've got to be able to throw things away that you may think are great”
After immersing himself in Shakespeare's language and craft at graduate school in Stratford-upon-Avon, Simon Leake joined Amazon.com in its second year of operation. He was part of the team that built the company's customer service messaging. He then joined their editorial department to create content for the books and DVD divisions. After that, he became a freelance copywriter, creating video scripts for a wide variety of clients, including Microsoft, Nordstrom, HP, the World Bank, and the Gates Foundation.
“Applying creativity to positively impact society by being inclusive and socially responsible and by putting ethics at the center of the creative intent and of what businesses stand for”
Fiorenza Plinio is the Head of Creative Excellence at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, where she nurtures creativity across all the company's products and services and creates continuous innovation and engagement with the global creative community and organizations, building programs that bring to life the highest levels of creativity at the largest gathering of the advertising and creative communications industry and beyond.
“Make the emotional and human connection first and foremost”
Product innovator Gary Burt has guided the success of multiple breakthrough products and services at technology companies: Microsoft, O2, Siemens, Atos, and Blue Prism. He has set the strategy, roadmap, and feature definition to maximize business value by being deeply committed and continuously honing his craft through quality execution and completeness of the entire product life cycle with a focus on the design-based, human-centered approach.
“I try to find the paradox or contradiction that will inform the design intent”
Maggie Hendrie is an interaction designer and founding chair of Art Center College of Design's Bachelor of Science in Interaction Design, and chairs their Graduate Media Design Practices MFA.
“The key is to find the creative trigger and just start!”
Independent musician Iwan Gronow, the bassist in Johnny Marr's band, has toured the world and played at festivals including Glastonbury, Coachella, and Fuji Rock, and appeared on Later with Jools Holland and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
“The beauty of entrepreneurship is creating something that's never existed in the world before”
Rand Fishkin is cofounder and CEO of audience research software startup, SparkToro. He’s dedicated his professional life to helping people do better marketing through his writing, videos, speaking, and his book, Lost and Founder. Author of Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World, co-contributed to two books: Art of SEO and Inbound Marketing & SEO.
“Criticality is absolutely essential to a creative process”
Professor Cameron Tonkinwise is an international expert in design studies and transition design and the Research Director of the Design Innovation Research Centre at UTS. He writes and speaks extensively on the power of design to drive systems-level change to achieve more sustainable and equitable futures. Cameron has long advocated for Design Studies and their importance in ensuring the social responsibility of design professionals.
“As a toy designer, you're actually a designer of all different disciplines”
Darren Lee Phillipson
Toy and Product
Darren Lee Phillipson is a multi-award-winning Consumer Products, Licensing, and Entertainment innovator, and owner of design_lead_play_, spending the last 25 years leading some of the world's most influential toy and licensing companies: Disney, Lucasfilm, Dreamworks, Fisher-Price, and Alpha Group. Creating and bringing to fruition some of the most iconic properties, including Star Wars, Toy Story, Cars, Dora the Explorer, Kung Fu Panda, and Sesame Street.
“You learn more from your mistakes than successes”
Whilst travelling through America and stumbling upon Hollywood, taken aback and moved by the endless possibilities, it led him down the path he has since excelled in - creating inspired content for delivery over a global platform with thousands of clients from the rainforests of Madagascar to the streets of Mumbai, where his work has been viewed by over a billion people.
“Nobody cares about the quality of the drawings you're going to make - what people care about is the clarity they bring to the table”
Dan Roam is the author of five internationally bestselling books on business visualization and communication clarity, including; The Pop-Up Pitch, The Back Of The Napkin, and Draw To Win. His purpose in life is to make complex things clear by drawing them and to help others do the same. He has helped leaders at Google, Microsoft, Boeing, Gap, IBM, the US Navy, the United States Senate, and the White House solve complex problems with simple pictures. His whiteboard has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, and NPR.
“If you don't have curiosity, you're going to get bored fast”
Sam Ladner is a sociologist who helps teams innovate, design, and learn. She is the author of Practical Ethnography: A Guide to Doing Ethnography in The Private Sector and Mixed Methods: A Short Guide to Applied Mixed Methods Research. Sam has worked on many advanced software projects, including Alexa, the Echo Look, Windows 10, Microsoft Office 2016, Cortana, and HoloLens. She currently works at Workday, an enterprise software company, as a Senior Principal Researcher studying the future of work. She received her Ph.D. in sociology from York University in Toronto.
“AI research is too focused on what people do and to try and replicate it, rather than doing what people can't”
Richard Harper is the author of 14 books, published over 200 scientific and has 27 patents. His research looks at how people engage with each other through technology and the implications for engineering and concepts of the individual in the digital age. He is Director of the Institute of Social Futures at Lancaster University, which coheres humanities and social science research with natural and physical sciences and engineering. He is a Fellow of the IET, the Royal Society of Arts, and ACM Fellow. The bulk of his career has been spent in commercial research at Xerox and Microsoft.
“Inspiration is very personal and there's really no cookie-cutter process that can be replicated or applied to other people”
Art, Culture, and Music
Clara Blume, Ph.D., is an Oakland-based artist, cultural diplomat, and researcher. As head of the Open Austria Art + Tech Lab, she curates artworks that explore the interplay of human and artificial creativity. As a professional musician, singer and songwriter, Blume was invited to tour Europe and the US. Apollo - The International Art Magazine most recently selected her among the 40 UNDER 40 most talented young people worldwide working in Art + Tech.
“Design is the art of making things tangible”
Bill Burnett is Co-Author of the New York Times best-seller Designing Your Life, and Co-Director of the Life Design Lab at Stanford University. A designer, educator, and Adjunct Professor at Stanford University. He is also the Executive Director of the Design Program, where he manages the undergraduate and graduate degree-granting programs and advises 70 -100 students annually. Bill holds multiple mechanical and design patents and design awards for various products, including the first “slate” computer. He is a Board member of VOZ, a socially responsible high fashion startup, and advises several internet startup companies.
“Every time I've taken a step into the unknown, that energy it brings to you is just so empowering that it amplifies my creativity 10x”
Creative Studio Leadership
Claire Morris is Chief Studio Officer at Founders Factory, the world's leading venture studio and accelerator, where she helps build and scale tech startups - powering founders to go further faster where she has turned more than 50 early-stage ideas into the next generation of tech companies.
“Believe in yourself while at the same time acknowledging where you can improve and where you've made mistakes. Having that balance is so important”
Charlotte Knowles is a factual film producer and CEO of the Independent Film Trust. She has produced work for the BBC and ITN in the UK, Screen Runner Productions and One World Artists in France, China World Star Productions in Beijing, and FABRICA in Italy. Charlotte's work has featured in festivals around the world and media outlets such as The Guardian, BBC, ITN, and Arte. Previously, she was the Creative Director of News Peeks, where she produced factual films and videos, working with investigative journalists to communicate public interest stories.
“Storytelling has been integral to survival. To know where you've come from, help you see where you're going, and understand the world you live in”
Indigenous Media Broadcasting
Tanya Denning-Orman leads National Indigenous Television (NITV), an Australian channel dedicated to Indigenous voices, overseeing its diverse and innovative multiplatform content. Tanya plays an instrumental role in developing and delivering First Nations storytelling across the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) network. As a champion for strong Indigenous media, she holds several industry Board positions, including Media Diversity Australia, First Nations Media Australia, and the World Indigenous Television Broadcast Network.
“We live in troubled times, and cinema is the most powerful medium; and what better way to learn how people live, work and play in other societies and cultures than through cinema”
Elliot Grove is the founder of the Raindance Film Festival, the British Independent Film Awards, and the Raindance London Film School. He has produced over 700 hundred short films and five feature films: the multi-award-winning The Living and the Dead (2006), Deadly Virtues (2013), AMBER (2017), Love is Thicker Than Water (2018), and the SWSX Grand Jury Prize winner Alice (2019). He teaches screenwriting and producing in the UK, Europe, Asia, and America. Elliot has written three books that have become industry standards. Photo @ Bertie Watson.
“Don’t take yourself too seriously and surround yourself with people way smarter than you”
Leadership of Communications and Advertising Networks
Chris Kay is the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi. Chris has been the Head of Marketing for Manchester City Football Club, who helped expand the club's global footprint, led the Adidas business globally, worked on the 2012 London Olympics for Cadbury, and helped build the brand proposition for LA as it won the 2028 Olympic bid.
“It always starts with research and looking into what is happening in the world right now”
Rasmus Smith Bech
From Copenhagen to being a runner in Hollywood to a serial creative at advertising and brand agencies, media and entertainment companies; Zupa, KesselsKramer, GREY London, Adam & Eve DDB, Channel 4, Uncommon Creative Studio, and now the Executive Creative Director at the BBC, Rasmus Smith Bech leads the creative output across all BBC campaigns and branding.
“You can never assume you know the answer without firstly really interrogating the convention and understanding what it is you're designing”
Tim Greenhalgh is the Chief Creative Officer at Landor & Fitch where he steers the creative direction globally for this brand transformation company. Tim has been awarded for his work from the likes of LEGO, McLaren, and Harrods. He has also been a judge and advisor for many awards and industry bodies, including the DBA and D&AD’s International Advisory Board. Tim is listed as a Retail Design Luminary by design: retail and is also a course mentor on the BA for Interior Architecture & Design at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA).
“it's all about preparation and creating more of a seamless and stress-free experience for both your clients or whoever you're shooting, and also yourself so that you've got peace of mind”
From opera singer to photographer Bertie Watson makes images as a visual language by capturing snapshots in time for Swarovski, GQ Magazine, Harpers Bazaar, Hello! Magazine, Empire Magazine, BAFTA, Deadline Hollywood, Lacoste, L’Oréal, The Wall Street Journal, Roland Mouret, Watches of Switzerland, The British Fashion Council, and Raindance Film Festival.
“Cities of the future are those places that maintain their character, heritage, value, and authenticity are the places that are going to come out on top”
Steven W. Pedigo
Urban Development & City Strategy
Steven W. Pedigo is Professor of Practice, Director of the LBJ Urban Lab at the University of Texas in Austin. An expert in economic and urban development, city strategy, anchor engagement, and placemaking. Steven has advised and collaborated with more than 50 cities, universities, developers, nonprofits, and Fortune 500 companies across the globe to build more creative, innovative, and inclusive communities.
“You've got to have the determination that what you're doing is the best thing in the world and simultaneously know that there are competitors out there who want to kill you”
Ian Ritchie, CBE FREng FRSE FBCS CEng, is a serial entrepreneur whose work in the technology industry alone has helped influence how we live and work today as a society, including his pioneering work with the software company he founded, Office Workstations Limited (OWL). Ian has helped build Edinburgh and Scotland as a center for innovative high-growth technology companies where he has been instrumental in developing over 50 startups and served on the boards of Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Funding Council, and co-chair of the Scottish Science Advisory Board.
“Resilience is important - you need to be able to bounce back”
Francesco Sedita is an author and publisher at Penguin, where he oversees Penguin Workshop and works with authors like Dolly Parton, Ann Hood, Jessica Hische, and publishes series like WhoHQ, Mad Libs, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Little Engine That Could. The third book in his graphic novel series, The Pathfinders Society, publishes in August 2022. He's produced the Emmy-award winning The Who Was? Show for Netflix and has a podcast called Queens of the Round Table.
“Always be distinctive and well crafted”
Paul Buckley is a Senior Vice President, Executive Creative Director at Penguin Random House, where he conducts a large staff of exceptionally talented designers and art directors overseeing ten imprints called The Penguin Art Group. Paul also personally designs, and art directs for a few of the imprints under his umbrella and is directly responsible for the branding of authors, big and small. His iconic design and singular art direction have been showcased on thousands of books, winning many awards and invitations to speak around the globe.
“Trust yourself and challenge yourself constantly. Because what's the point in settling for something if you're not pushing yourself forward”
Adrian Dutt is an illustrator, musician, and co-founder of the DIY record label 'Howling Owl.' Adrian manages the Bristol branch of Rough Trade and uses his time to continue pushing his creativity via Spectres, illustration, and various record label collaborations.
“If people believe in you, the creative environment is far more fertile”
Creative Leadership of Ad Agencies
Paul Mellor is the Master of Decibels (MD) at the Ad Agency Mellor&Smith which he founded in 2009 amid the banking crisis and has been making sensible decisions ever since. A self-confessed certified pain-in-the-ass asker of difficult questions and creator of advertising that makes brands famous. Paul's primary role in life is the direct opposite of a hostage negotiator – convincing people to take risks. He is the founder of London's biggest creative event series #takefuckingrisks, co-author of 'The Bland Book,' partner at Series A, and has recently received 4 BAFTA nominations for his film "Boiling Point."
“Everything you need is already inside of you. Your key is to focus your passion and energy by making the right decisions and have the ambition and persistence to see it through”
Founder and CEO of Unknown Origins, on a mission to save the world from unoriginality by helping people unleash the power of creativity. Author of "Creativity Without Frontiers: How to make the invisible visible by lighting the way into the future."