Built to last

Mature artisans, in the twilight of their careers, can obtain a degree of solace from the notion of retirement. But, for some design industry stalwarts this prospect sits low on their agenda.

In today’s flourishing design world, its easy to forget that just 40 years ago there was no recognised design industry. As furniture designer Jane Dillon says, if you called yourself a designer at a cocktail party it was rare that anyone had any concept of what you did.

Graphic design didn’t exist as a separate discipline from commercial art and the concept of branding was comparatively little known. Rather than churning out design graduates by the hundred like today, colleges such as the London College of Printing produced fewer than 20 a year.

The revolutionary impact of the computer on design was still some decades to come. It was a very different time. Many from those days have not only endured the huge changes over the years, but embraced them and prospered, and are in no hurry to put down their pencils – or their mice. Most claim they were lucky to have got where they have, but it takes far more than that to succeed so well over such a long period of time. In this article we talk to some of these designers with staying power about their careers, their achievements, and what makes them tick after so long in the business.

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