What was the first thing that you ever designed that made it into production?

After a seven-year-old designed brown sauce packaging for Waitrose, creatives tell us about their first designs to make it into production.

Tom Karen
Tom Karen

‘I worked in Ford’s Styling Studio in the 1950s.  The company had a very capable product planning function that prescribed in great detail the design parameters for every part that went into a car. My job was to do the badging for the Anglia 105E model and my brief was to design separate chrome letters spelling Anglia for the front of the car.  I did as I was told.  But I felt the separate letters were costly and each one needed plugging in and fixing with a clip.  I stuck my neck out and designed a badge made up of a single die-casting with a single plastic component insert with the Anglia name. I had models made of each design and showed it to product planning. They costed them, scratched their heads, and came down in favour of my design – which went into production. I was pleased and Ford probably saved more money than the salary I was paid (about £800pa.)’

Tom Karen, industrial designer

Tord Boontje

‘When I was 16 I designed and wore a new earring every day. I would produce these myself in my bedroom using silver wire, small mirrors, fallen feathers from our parrot, beads, bike parts and anything interesting I could find in the street. Often I would sell these to girls in my school the next day. Eighteen years later Habitat started production of the Garland Light, my first design that was produced by someone else.’ 

Tord Boontje, industrial product designer

Jenny Theolin

‘Apart from my hand-made birthday cards designed as a toddler (production of 1x), one of my first designs produced commercially was 2x Tesco Bags for Life, where the print production was around the 2 million mark. I was asked to design two versions for their 2004 (I think) autumn release. I was particularly proud of my idea of doing transparent bags and printing on both sides to create this 3D “falling leaf” effect. Up until this point all Bags for Life had been illustrated and printed on solid white bags, so this was really something different for Tesco. Super proud I was, and I have never (to this day) seen my work in so many places and used by so many people at once in my entire life.’

Jenny Theolin, director, Soapbox & Sons  

Felt Mistress

‘Besides simple toys’ or dolls’ dresses that I made for myself as a kid, the first thing I designed that went into production was a security guard uniform for Anchorage in Salford Quays. I was 20 and still in university, it was a design competition and I won. I can’t remember much about them other than they were navy and involved pin tucks! (Oh and they weren’t made of felt).’

Louise Evans, aka Felt Mistress

Simon Adamson

‘When I left school all I wanted to do was go to art college and create. It was here I used to make posters to promote my local pub, The Lambton Worm in Durham. They were based on a North East folklore story about a man slaying a giant worm and they were posted all over town. If that doesn’t count, then let’s go back to the early ’90s when I started work in London. I think my first commercially-produced piece of design was Foster’s Ice Lager. Remember that one? Ice lagers were the craze at the time and Foster’s was a big player. I recall it was such a buzz being a junior designer working in a leading design agency and managing to get one of my designs into market.’

Simon Adamson, creative director, Bloom

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