What was your first job?
A childhood classic, a paper round. It was hard-earned money in a hilly village. My first design job was working for an agency called Trois-Quarts Face in Lyon, France. I made posters for theatres and music conservatoires… mostly in lower-case Futura.
How would you describe what you currently do?
What has been the biggest change in design since you started?
Everyone’s at it. There’s so much discussion about the demise of skilled craftsmen in design but actually they’re still out there and they’re still producing amazing work. There’s a lot of rubbish out there, too, but cream float to the top and democratisation is surely a good thing.
What is your favourite project, that you’ve worked on?
It’s always the one we started yesterday and, of course, it’s top secret.
What is your favourite project, that you haven’t worked on?
I’m minorly obsessed with propaganda posters, especially those from the era of Soviet Constructivism. They are provocative, emotive and political. It’s the power of messages – which is what my job is all about, on a good day.
What was your biggest mistake?
I clean forgot to turn up to an interview with Michael Johnson once. I was naval gazing a deadline. Really stupid.
What is your greatest ambition?
In my day dreams it’s still Miss World. But with my serious hat on, it is to firmly establish Conran Studio as the best multi-disciplinary design studio in the country. Then we’ll think about conquering the world.
Who is the most inspirational person you have worked with?
My foundation art teacher, Mike Rennie, was wonderful. ‘Knock it about a bit’ was his moniker. I was close to being kicked off the course for being insecure about my work at one stage and tt was a wake up call – you need to be bold as brass to succeed as a designer. I have to mention Terence, too – it amazes me how young he is. He remains incredibly in tune with the design world even though he is 81-years-old.
What piece of advice would you give to people starting out in design?
Travel. It’s certainly a cliché, but travelling is a formative experience. Having to interact with people in a language you barely speak emboldens you. And because you are slightly cut off, you observe things more acutely than you ever would at home.
Emma Booty is creative director of Conran Studio.