Richard Murray and Sam Sampson made great contributions to design

It has been a sad couple of weeks for design, in which the industry lost two of its leading players. Both Martin ’Sam’ Sampson and Richard Murray made outstanding contributions and both are already deeply missed.

Tributes continue to flow in for the Sampson Tyrell co-founder, who died, aged 61, at the end of February (, 2 March).

Sampson, with partner Terry Tyrell, was involved in its sale to WPP in 1998 and change of name to Enterprise IG (now The Brand Union). In this, and in his later role in Sir Martin Sorrell’s empire, he was a key influence in creating the UK’s reputation for corporate design.

Murray, who died last week from skin cancer at the age of 44, founded award-winning branding group Williams Murray Hamm with Richard Williams and Garrick Hamm in 1999, when it changed its name from Williams Murray Banks. Though his illness limited his input over the past three years, he helped steer the group through ground-breaking projects such as the controversial Hovis wrappers and Jaffa Cake packs and was party to the deal with its now owner Loewy in 2006.

Sampson and Murray were very different. Sampson was a designer originally – often described in recent years as a mentor who didn’t suffer fools and ’a lovely man’ – while Murray was an ace communicator and a ’character’ loved as much for his often irreverent views as for his sweet nature. Murray was the author of three books in which he spoke out against marketing formulas and design clichés and, in the late 1990s, a monthly columnist in Design Week. Both men created a stir, quietly or otherwise.

Between them they sum up much of what is good in design – the entrepreneurialism, personality, bloody-mindedness and humanity. Their passing leaves a gap, the size of which many of us are only just beginning to fathom.

They were both special people. Our thoughts are with their families and friends.


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