It seems strange to be inspired by failure, but that was the catalyst for the [annual] Podge lunch. Half a dozen design luminaries joined me at the Oval in the 1980s, when British design was going great guns, both in the UK and overseas. Over a very civilised and somewhat boozy afternoon, the general mood was very gung-ho. Then came the crash, and one by one each of the consultancies present that day were fending off the receivers.

Several years passed and I rang the original group to ask if they fancied meeting up again to discuss ‘what the hell went wrong’, with the result that it has now become an annual event with 120 people.

The first Podge lunch took place 13 years ago at Quaglino’s in London, with just 30 attendees, including our guest of honour Alan Fletcher. What I thought would be a one-off now appears to be the one day each year when senior players get the chance to share information and genuinely chill out over a great lunch.

True inspiration came with one particular seating plan that brought two individuals together for the first time – only to see them invited back as husband and wife a year later, and as proud parents a few years after that.

Phil Jones
Real Time Consultancy

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