Best of British: 7 influential designers we’re proud to call our own
It’s time for a dose of good old patriotism.
#1. Terence Conran
No list of great British Designers would be complete without mention of Sir Terence Conran – and on our current roster, he takes pole position. Conran’s key claim to greatness is making iconic design available to, and affordable for, the man on the street. The simple act of opening a Habitat in Chelsea in 1964 marked a c-change in outstanding product and furniture design that was accessible. Conran’s reach has been widespread - he has been involved in architecture and interior design, including Conran Roche, Michelin House, and the Bluebird Garage. And remarkably, he continues to be active today.
#2. Donna Wilson
Donna Wilson’s inclusion seems a little odd in this list of relative giants, but her place is deserved nonetheless. Wilson emerged from art school in the early 2000s into an interiors environment that was hot on stark minimalism. Yet her designs were vibrant, folksy, playful – and sell-outs. Since then, she’s been much copied but never matched. Her knitted, animal-shaped cushions were best-sellers at John Lewis and Heal's; her patterned sofas, armchairs and pouffes were one of furniture retailer SCP's most popular products; and her cutesy-scary stuffed creatures have been big as far afield as Japan. Her concepts are loved for their light and quirky interpretation of decoration. Celebrating imagination, Wilson makes use of yarns and vibrant colours to fashion a universe that is completely her own.
#3. Jonathan Ive
Sir Jonathan Ive is, quite simply, the man credited with the concepts that turned Apple’s fortunes around. He’s also the man who brought the computer right into our homes, in a guise that was fun, quirky – and covetable. The first Mac was a design icon, and with the iPad, the MacBook, the iPhone and a whole host of others, Ive has transformed the way we work and play. He’s married tech with functional creativity and beauty. In doing so, he’s been a game-changer not just for Apple, but for the whole category of communications technology.
#4. Henry Charles Beck
Simple, neat, functional. You’d hope all maps could be described in this manner but for the London Tube Map, add art to that. Beck’s vision of practical navigation around the London tube network has become iconic – it was unveiled in 1933, and it’s now on walls, mugs, teatowels, and fridge magnets, not to mention on every underground station in the UK. Not only has this intuitive design changed how London moves, its model has been adopted by subway systems all over the world.
#5. Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Westwood’s designs have been shocking and inspiring generations since the 70s. Westwood liberated fashion and paved the way for something entirely new. Never far from controversy, her career started at "SEX", Malcolm McLaren's boutique on the King’s Road, where the pair churned out designs inspired by bikers, fetishists and prostitutes. The unofficial king and queen of punk, Westwood and Mclaren dressed the scenes key figureheads in everything from BDSM fashion, bondage gear and safety pins to razor blades, bicycle chains and spiked dog collars. Westwood has constantly resisted convention and she continues to be politically active. Overall, you could say she was one of fashion’s first disruptors, and she continues to challenge our sense of the norm.
#6. Stella McCartney
Born the daughter of a Beatle, Stella McCartney has carved out iconic status in her own right. Bringing fashion and sportswear together, McCartney changed the way we view workout kit. She has transformed the high street too. Ranging from the affordable to the catwalk, McCartney has worked with everybody from Madonna to H&M and Adidas. More recently, McCartney was the Creative Director for Team GB in 2012 Olympics.
#7. Thomas Heatherwick
Heatherwick is a true bastion of contemporary British design. The Rolling Bridge, East Beach Cafe, the new Routemaster bus, Heatherwick’s designs unite the beautiful with the ordinary. His most recent proposal, “Garden Bridge”, looks to join North and South London with a seasonal garden that reflects the passing of time and the coming together of a city. A fitting concept for a designer who has always been a man of the people – and a true game-changer.
Here at Sun Branding Solutions we’re incredibly proud of the design talent both within our business and of that from which we draw inspiration – such as the greats above.
Stay tuned for #8-10. And if you need some inspiration for your packaging design? Give us a call on
01274 202382 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.