Brenda Emmanus meets and profiles ten great living British designers, to find out what inspires them and explore how they have responded to society's evolving tastes.
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The new Design Museum is opening in Kensington, London.
Masterpieces of design are arriving.
It's a showcase for the genius of design
which has inspired the world.
Since the Second World War,
designers have revolutionised every aspect of our lives.
And there's some design masterpieces
you don't even have to visit a museum to experience.
We want to celebrate ten great British designers
who are pioneers of the past and trailblazers today.
We will follow the trail of these ingenious designers
from the 1960s to the present.
In the '60s and '70s,
Sir Kenneth Grange and Sir Terence Conran
were among Britain's design superstars.
Habitat was really cool when I was young.
And designer Margaret Calvert left her mark on British roads.
In the 1980s and '90s,
pioneering designers such as Rick Dickinson
helped introduce computers to our homes.
And Trevor Baylis brought wind-up radios to remote parts of the world.
In fact, it was just here I made the wind-up radio.
Before the end of the 20th century, Andrew Ritchie gave us
a bike you could almost put in your pocket.
David Constantine created stylish and affordable wheelchairs
for sports and rugged terrain in the developing world.
Apple products by Jonathan Ive took the world by storm.
The job of the designer is to have a vision
and a sense of where we can go.
And in the new millennium,
design engineer Roma Agrawal helped give shape
to Europe's tallest skyscraper - the Shard.
You must enjoy the view, but you also need to look up.
Every time I saw it, I thought, is it finished?
And the design team of Barber & Osgerby...
All we could stare at was the flame, making sure it was still alight.
..designed a torch that captured the spirit of the Olympics
and the attention of billions.
Kenneth Grange is sometimes called the man who designed everything.
I got into this game at a time
when there were very few of us
and I'd managed to build a reputation
by the funny accident of being asked to do a big variety of things.
You name it, I did almost anything in sight.
From kitchen appliances to parking meters,
from disposable razors to bus shelters.
How many drops of rain have I saved from falling on people?
And if it's not quite a big enough roof to keep them all dry,
I've got to have a good answer for that.
In the post-war era,
Kenneth Grange has been Britain's moderniser-in-chief.
It's silly, isn't it? Such a simple thing,
but how sharp you can make this cut-off here,
the actual importance in the whole thing, and therefore
what the designer ought to spend a lot of time worrying about,
is how well it pours.
Kenneth Grange believes designers should have to live with
what they design.
You'll notice a big mouth here to get the water in easily.
And for the past 20 years, he's been using the Kenwood kettle
he designed to make himself tea,
along with millions of others around the world.
Lift it off.
Pour the lovely water through the lovely spout.
Cut off neatly, you see. No dribbles.
And we're in business.
After the war, people who had been making armaments went back to
what they used to make, which was in one case, I know,
irons for ironing your clothes.
Between the time that I was given the job of
updating the electric iron and its original inception
was probably 30-something years.
"Newness" was a word that we might well have used instead of "design".
Design was a very little-used word in our language at the time.
'Hey, lady, forget all that.
'Meet the swinging, mixing, mincing, slicing,
-'shredding Kenwood Chef.'
Behind the cult status of some of his design successes,
such as the Kenwood Chef,
are savvy insights into the psyche of consumers,
which go deeper than appearances.
We read a lot into the weight of things.
So when you pick something up,
in that moment you make an assumption about its value.
Slightly heavier says longer life, better value, etc.
So I asked them to use a particular material
that is heavier and certainly weightier in the fingers
and it's over-engineered to the point where
it will last through two or three generations.
Sooner or later, that gets to be known in the marketplace.
What better merit can you give a product
than knowing it's actually going to outlast you?
Is there anything the Kenwood Chef can't do?
Since the 1960s,
disposable razors have grown into a multibillion-pound industry.
And Kenneth Grange came up with several compelling designs.
It's such a big business that anything goes.
If you make a blunder and you go to the market
with a razor with ten blades
and you get some bad press because somebody, quite rightly,
points out that eight of them don't do anything at all,
then you can go back to the market with two -
but two new super-blades!
A major commercial success was the Wilkinson Chrome Protector.
I think you always aim to tell different stories.
So the chrome version, for example, implies that it has a longer life,
which then reflects upon the cutting efficiency of the blades.
Behind that little thing that you scrape your face with
is a set of miracles of engineering.
And I've often got the glory, when in fact the real heroes are
the people who invented the thing in the beginning.
When his design work moved from the private to the public sector,
Kenneth Grange helped push British Rail into the future.
Initially hired to design the paint job for a diesel engine
in development, Kenneth Grange took his brief a giant step further.
At his own initiative, he developed and began to test in a wind tunnel
an entirely new shape.
40 years on, the InterCity 125 remains
a workhorse of British rail networks,
and Sir Kenneth Grange continues to bask
in the glory of his design masterpiece.
The 125s were simply the best,
best British train we've ever designed.
Record producer Pete Waterman
is one of Britain's most enthusiastic train collectors.
His home can be mistaken for a railway museum.
Not only were they absolutely fantastic looking
but, I mean, they went like sugar off a shovel
and they rode brilliantly.
I mean, still we have not bettered the bogeys on these 125s.
Out of the blue the director of the railways came to me one day
and said, "They're going to develop an alternative version
"of a high-speed train."
And they produced a model, a rather clumsy-looking thing,
and the director came to me and said, "This is what they..."
meaning the engineers, "..are going to make.
"Would you decorate it for us?"
And I did that, but I'd got sufficient time and they paid me
well enough that I started thinking about what shape it could be,
out of just my own interest.
We made a variety of models
which we took down to the Imperial College
and tried out in the wind tunnel,
and gradually developed a shape that had aerodynamics
as its real, essential ambition.
And so when the day came to give them my new livery for their model,
I did that and also gave them my model, which they hadn't asked for.
And, to their everlasting credit,
they bought the arguments that I propounded.
Suddenly trains aren't just about first-class travel.
Life isn't about people who have money and don't have money,
and I do think that comes through in things like the InterCity 125.
It wasn't just about people
who could afford good design,
but that good design should be for everybody.
So it turned into a very important job in my life.
For a long time, it stood as an icon of modernism in the railways.
And I am particularly proud of the fact that I think
it's come to mean quite a lot to a lot of people inside the industry.
Every single day, millions of people are expected
to pay close attention to the designs of Margaret Calvert.
And they've been doing so for over 50 years.
There are hundreds of thousands of miles of roadways in Britain,
punctuated by millions of road signs.
And rare is the driver who gives their design a passing thought.
These road signs have a simplicity and uniformity that was part of
a radical rethink of road signs more than 50 years ago...
..and more than anyone else, owe their appearance...
..to Margaret Calvert.
I do remember Jock saying, you know,
"If this actually takes off,
"it's going to be the biggest job ever
"that any graphic design team have undertaken."
And he was right.
A designer named Jock Kinnear and his former student,
Margaret Calvert, were the two key people who the government
would entrust with this radical rethink of the nation's road signs.
I have a slight girly crush on Margaret Calvert.
She won't be aware of this
and she won't be interested, particularly,
but I do think she is sort of a bit of a genius.
This is a woman who revolutionised road travel.
I never tell people that I've been involved in it
and people think it weird anyway.
They don't think anyone designs something that simple, it just is.
In the 1950s, road signs were haphazard and dangerous.
Cars were becoming more affordable and a routine part of daily life.
Traffic jams were a new phenomenon.
Modern roadways were a solution that would also help connect the country.
The government would undertake one of its most ambitious
post-war infrastructure projects -
to start construction of the M1 motorway.
I was really in the deep end.
There weren't many woman like me then.
What we were designing was to be read at speed and, of course,
it had to be very simple, and most importantly,
to use upper and lower case letters,
because you read, as you know, word shape for a town.
White on blue was chosen for the motorway,
because the blue sits very well in Britain's landscape.
The Road Research Laboratory
would test the visibility of these handmade road sign prototypes.
It all sounds a bit of a joke, but they would put the signs
on the top of a car and then they would drive the car
towards the men sitting on this platform
and they would say when they could read it.
Margaret would also design a series of warning pictograms.
There are children crossing signs all over the world
and we obviously wanted one to be unique for this country.
What I felt was important was that they looked very active,
so that you would really take note and think "slow down".
I thought, why don't we have a girl leading a small boy,
because it was the other way round before. That's what I did.
It was quite a feminist statement then to say it's a girl
leading a boy by the hand. Taking her little brother to school.
It's not the big brother taking the little girl to school.
I wasn't conscious of that being a feminism statement at all,
it just never entered my head.
Well, I'm going to foist that feminist statement on her,
whether she likes it or not! I think, sometimes, if you're
a go-getting woman in a man's world,
particularly mid-20th century,
you don't even know you're being a feminist.
Well, you just think "Why not?"
So you do it. Nobody questioned it at the time.
Obviously you work at keeping it as simple as possible,
because you don't want it to date.
Margaret's work is absolutely constant.
It still looks clean and fresh.
It does its job so well as well,
so it's almost the ultimate luxury.
When we were thinking and beginning to design Autumn-Winter '15
as a collection and just thinking about the beauty,
but also the kind of humour that there is
in some of the words and the instructions.
This sort of double entendre, if you like.
It's sort of become iconic and, again, if you would change it,
to change anything now would cost an awful lot of money.
This particular Anya Hindmarsh designer bag,
made out of genuine python snakeskin,
will only set you back about £3,000.
The roadworks sign, the joke quickly arose,
"Oh, it looks like a man having difficulty with a large umbrella."
Well, of course, the minute someone says that
and you look at it,
that's exactly what it does look like.
If somebody wants to come up with a different design, then fine,
but at the moment, it's lasted nearly all my lifetime,
over 50 years, so that's great.
Some designers give a new look to what already exists.
Others, like Rick Dickinson, face the rare design challenge
of giving shape to an entirely new era.
In 1982, the age of the personal computer arrived in Britain.
No product like it existed.
You were creating something that simply didn't exist.
Rick Dickinson was responsible for the revolutionary design of
the new and powerful ZX Spectrum computer,
produced by Sinclair Research.
In the Sinclair days, I lived in Cambridge.
Just about everybody's house I went to had a Sinclair computer,
and often I'd be going into a house
and they had no idea that I'd been the industrial designer.
So that was quite nice.
I rarely let on that I had a hand in that.
The Spectrum would capture the imagination of millions
who would buy their first home computer.
It was designed to connect with television sets.
It had word processing capacity.
It was the first Sinclair computer with colour.
Its wildfire success was its addictive appeal
to use with video games.
And all this computer power was stuffed inside
what appeared to be just a keyboard.
This is the very raw beginnings of the product development
and certainly this is the starting point for the industrial design,
because it's the user interface.
Here's a clear development of the keyboard through sketches.
It was a question of, "Well, guys, what should this look like?
"I have no idea."
Graphics is critical in terms of helping people find their way
around the usability of the product.
This is adding additional layers of data.
Some of the keys have already got one, two, three, four,
five items of information,
and here I've just quickly picked out a single key
to help me decide where data could be located.
Lego is here!
As an industrial designer to be,
the young Rick Dickinson found
some of his earliest design inspirations in Lego.
All my birthday presents and Christmas presents would be Lego,
and you'd always run out of a particular brick
that you happened to be using a lot of.
And it's the improvisation I loved.
I should think it's been at least 30 years
since I ever touched a Spectrum keyboard.
And certainly wired up to a game like this!
-I love the sound.
I'd forgotten how attractive it was.
Interstellar computer game battles
have come a long, long way since the ZX Spectrum.
The staggering success of the Spectrum just brought in
literally millions of more users.
We'd sold maybe five million Spectrums,
and in those days, that was a massive figure.
It was just unheard of.
So it became a big industry, and I think the Spectrum was
the catalyst for all of that.
I can't remember how to turn round.
Overall rating - poor.
People are very happy to pay very little money
for an amazing product - a computer in their home.
We cut out a lot of the manufacturing costs
by pretty well effectively inventing our own keyboard technology.
A conventional keyboard might have over 200 moving parts.
The Sinclair computer used innovative membrane technology,
requiring only three layers.
The new rubber keyboard was waterproof
and seemingly indestructible.
The keyboard has such a reputation
and it certainly wasn't designed to be indestructible!
Village of Barley over in the distance on the left...
Don't go outside and ask people what they want.
You've got to decide what you think is right for them and usually,
they like what it is that you do for them.
New inventions and innovative designs often go hand in hand.
Inventor Trevor Baylis has been honoured for changing people's lives
for the better, one well-designed wind at a time.
A revolutionary design by a British inventor, Trevor Baylis,
for how to power a radio, would have a life-saving impact
-in the developing world.
-It's a good idea.
-It's a good idea.
-Oh, fabulous. That's very nice.
It's called the wind-up radio.
Trevor Baylis is one of Britain's most celebrated inventors.
In fact, it was just here I made the wind-up radio.
This thing here looks a bit rough,
but then, it was the first prototype.
So you wind it up like that...
His development of the wind-up radio in 1991
has had ripple effects across the developing world.
It was purely chance, because I was actually watching a programme
about the spread of HIV or AIDS in Africa,
and they said, "The only way we can bring information to those people
"was through radio," but there was a problem
because there wasn't electricity in certain parts of Africa
and batteries were horrendously expensive.
People were bartering their maize and their rice
in order to obtain batteries.
And then all of a sudden, I'm thinking to myself,
"Hang on, I've got an idea."
I got onto my DC motor,
which, run in reverse, becomes a dynamo.
I hooked up two wires which I put to a cheap transistor radio
by chance I had near, which then led to my first radio here.
Trevor Baylis was a champion swimmer in his youth.
He went on to be a stunt double in films and with the money made
as an underwater escape artist in a German circus,
Trevor Baylis built himself a home on Eel Pie Island
in the middle of the Thames.
Here he built his dream workshop,
and it's where he came up with the idea of the wind-up radio.
I got a tremendous number of rejections from various people
saying, "You don't know what you're talking about, mate."
You know, all that sort of stuff.
A story about the wind-up radio on Tomorrow's World
proved a turning point.
Well, what you've got is a box which contains
a fairly powerful spring...
After countless rejections on the grounds that
his idea was either impossible or impractical,
Baylis would get financial backing and product development support.
So you think there really is a market for it?
I think there's a tremendous market if it can be... If it can work.
And Trevor's persuaded us that it does.
But also, obviously, if it's marketed at an affordable price.
The design of the prototype was a simple black box.
When it was taken to rural Africa
to get feedback from potential users,
the reactions were phenomenal.
We don't need batteries, we don't need electricity? That's super.
-I like it, I like it.
Bigger or smaller?
No, I like it as big as this.
-A big one.
Bigger, a little bit bigger.
I like it to be loud.
-Not too loud.
This feedback will significantly impact
the engineering and the design.
It appeared that end users wanted a battery-less radio
that was big, heavy and loud.
I would buy a radio like this.
You people with all these inventions. It's good.
I like modern science. Thank you.
Enter spring experts, gear experts and electrical engineers.
After the development and redesign process was complete,
the wind-up radio would be manufactured in South Africa.
On his first visit to the new factory,
Trevor Baylis was overcome with emotion
to see his dream of a wind-up radio become a reality.
I opened a factory down in Cape Town and they employ disabled people
and that was a very good thing, from my point of view.
Thousands more people in remote parts of the world
would hear public service announcements
for fighting sexually transmitted disease,
preventing infant mortality,
and about the dangers of unexploded land mines.
And music was just a wind away.
KYLIE MINOGUE PLAYS FROM RADIO
When you think about it,
my pure chance idea made such a tremendous difference,
not just to me but to society. You know, you think to yourself,
well, you've left something behind, you know?
MUSIC PLAYS THROUGH RADIO
Sometimes a brilliant design is not enough
unless it comes with a designer like Andrew Ritchie.
Someone prepared to dedicate his whole life
to convince the world to give it a go.
In 1976, an idea was hatched for an innovative design
for a new type of bicycle.
The designer was Andrew Ritchie.
He was trained as an engineer,
worked as a landscape gardener and was an avid cyclist.
I used to bike everywhere, but one you could put in your pocket
or a really handy thing you could take with you would be a good idea.
Today, the Brompton bicycle is an international hit.
It is ingeniously designed to transform itself
in a matter of seconds from a reliable and fuel-efficient
means of transportation into a piece of hand luggage.
I have ridden Bromptons and what I love about them
is the fact that commuters suddenly could cycle to the railway station
in Basingstoke or wherever and put their bicycle on the train
and get off at the other end and cycle it away.
The Brompton bicycle has changed the lifestyles and commuting habits
of almost everyone who owns one.
Going from design to factory production
was a classic tale of perseverance.
Well, I was not a natural businessman and I didn't come across
particularly as an entrepreneur, I don't think.
So getting the backing and getting the show on the road
took an incredibly long time.
It was in this room
that Andrew Ritchie's design obsession began.
It happens to be directly across the street
from a church called the Brompton Oratory.
It was 1976 when a friend of his dad brought around
a prototype for a folding bike called the Bickerton.
The Bickerton folded in half and required the removal of its seat.
Andrew Ritchie had an idea for an even more compact design.
The Bickerton bike, which was being made in a very small scale
in a garage by one Harry Bickerton, was the first genuine attempt,
as far as I can see, to make a bike that was portable.
This prompted me to think,
"Well, this is a slightly awkward approach
"Harry Bickerton has taken. There might be a better way
"of getting the bike to be more compact."
And as I had nothing better to do that evening,
I sat at my desk in my flat
and sketched out the basic idea for the Brompton.
It's just the four extremities, front wheel, back wheel,
handlebars and the saddle come down together to the middle.
And my first prototypes folded doing exactly that but in
rather a different way from what the modern Bromptons do.
The first handmade prototype was built within a year,
but it would take more than a decade to convince financial backers
and ordinary cyclists to embrace his innovative new design.
My friends, of course, were all racing ahead and getting married and
raising families and I was slightly in the doldrums,
a disappointment to my parents, getting nowhere,
fiddling around with this obsession with a bike. And I was...
I was living slightly from hand to mouth, taking temporary jobs,
waiting upon the moment, when actually,
I could get this all to happen.
I had thought that I would become filthy rich from the proceeds of
getting a licence deal going and would move on to a life of luxury.
But it was not to be thus.
Eventually it dawned on me and my shareholders
that we would have to do what we didn't want to do at all,
which was to try and set up production.
There was enough backing to open the first small factory in 1987.
By the mid-'90s, production expanded.
There was a sort of commercial future beginning to show
and I thought this could lead to something.
40 years after the initial idea, the Brompton factory today
in West London produces over 100 bikes a day.
You may be aware there has been a bit of a cult around the Brompton.
And a lot of Brompton fans, if you like,
if that's the right word, congregate,
whether it's in Korea or Singapore or Japan or on the Continent.
It's created a niche which people didn't really see the point of
until they came to experience it.
British people are in love with the Victorians.
One of the reasons we are in love with the Victorians is that
there was not a problem to which they couldn't see a solution.
And the Brompton is a very visible demonstration of a solution
to the problem of how you develop a bicycle that folds in so small
it's really not much bigger than a briefcase.
It's the functionality of it which is the design philosophy,
if you like. The damn thing has got to work.
Almost Heath Robinson sort of contraption.
It has touched people's imagination.
# Without you
# Without you
-# Without you
-Without you... #
David Constantine is a design champion the world over
for people who depend on the wheelchair
for their mobility and for their dignity.
I was studying agriculture when I went out to work in Australia.
In 1982 I dived into a shallow pool of water
and broke my neck at C45 level...
..which left me with no sensation from the shoulders down
and no grip or hand function,
and obviously no lower mobility at all.
So the only option for me
was to use a wheelchair for the rest of my life.
Motivation was founded by David Constantine 25 years ago.
Its mission is to design low-cost wheelchairs
for adults and children
and for use in rugged terrain in the developing world.
Motivation has been out here for 20 years now.
Its headquarters is a farmhouse in rural Somerset,
with a UK staff of over 25.
It has established a network of about 20 workshops
in over 15 countries.
It's about giving somebody something they want to use,
rather than feel like they have to use.
And that is a small sort of piece of the jigsaw puzzle
that someone might need to put together
to make themselves feel better after having a life-changing injury
or having been born with a disability.
I go all over the world,
and every now and again, you come across
someone in a Motivation chair
and it's easy to see them.
They've got a particular look
and style about them.
The chair isn't just a mobility device.
It becomes part of you.
David's first wheelchair was a design
that had been around since the 1930s.
It felt like a piece of the hospital was still with me.
I didn't feel like I was a patient any more,
I was just a disabled person wanting to get into society.
At 21, I had no idea what design was.
While studying computer programming and working at IBM,
David had a chance encounter
that would change the course of his life.
I met a group of guys who were industrial designers
and when I asked them over lunch one day what they did,
and they said, "We're industrial designers,"
and I said, "What's that?" And they explained.
It was my epiphany moment.
Because I suddenly realised that, actually,
you're the guys that make the keyboard springs
too stiff for me to push down on my weak fingers,
you're the guys who put the on-off switch round the back
so I can't see it or reach it.
You are the guys who, you know, could do that differently.
David enrolled in the Royal College of Art
to study industrial design.
There he took on a course assignment
to design a wheelchair for the developing world.
I had never thought about
what someone in a developing country might do
if they needed a wheelchair.
The first trip to Bangladesh took place with two classmates.
It was an exercise in going to find out what that need was.
Motivation's work would further develop in India.
People live predominantly in the rural areas along muddy tracks,
between paddy fields.
You need to be able to get over rough ground to your village.
A big design breakthrough we made was designing the three-wheel chair.
The three-wheel chair, with a longer boom out the front,
made it much easier to get over rough ground and any pothole
or muddy area cos the front wheel is much larger.
We have one of David Constantine's wheelchairs in our collection,
and it is there to show how someone who himself uses a wheelchair
can understand the issues, what it's like to navigate rough terrain.
It is designed to a price,
it's designed to be comfortable to use and simple to operate.
In addition to rugged terrain wheelchairs,
there are Motivation wheelchairs for sports.
The International Paralympic Committee approached Motivation
and asked us whether we would be able to design
a low-cost basketball chair. For people who, you know,
if they're lucky enough to have a chair in a developing country,
are never going to dream of actually playing sport.
Wheelchairs are really expensive.
And to find a chair that does all those purposes,
that gives people mobility and they are able to do sport,
but that's affordable, is really important.
And Motivation's chairs have come in
and they are sort of covering that gap.
Over 200 of our chairs have gone out to Afghanistan
and now they have a national team.
Over 6,000 of these have gone to over 60 countries.
I realised, actually, what design was,
I realised I was surrounded by it.
And I realised also what it could do for my quality of life,
and that's what we've tried to do through Motivation.
If the test for a successful product designer
is how many people are craving to wrap their hands around it,
then Jonathan Ive, the chief designer for Apple,
can count his success in billions.
In 2007, when we launched the iPhone,
it was my privilege to make the first public call on stage
to one of my best friends in the whole world, Jonny Ive.
If the modern world of industrial design had a poet high priest,
it would be British-born designer Jonathan Ive of Apple.
From the thought and the conversation
to actually making something
has been very important for us over the years.
As a young designer just out of Newcastle Polytechnic,
Ive was thunderstruck by his first encounter with an Apple product,
the Macintosh computer.
Can you remember your first reaction to an Apple product?
It was in the late '80s.
And I had struggled to use
the computers that were available to me at art school.
And I remember coming across the Mac right at the end of my time there.
I remember my first reaction was, it's a curious thing,
when we use technology and complex products, if we struggle,
we assume the problem is ours.
If we eat something that tastes terrible,
we don't assume the problem's with us, is it?
We assume it's whoever made it.
And it was this wonderful sense that here was an incredibly powerful,
sophisticated tool that I could use,
the problem hadn't been with me.
It made me particularly curious about, well, who made this?
Jonathan Ive joined Apple in 1992
and is now their chief design officer.
Ive, with his design team,
now has a number of world-class Apple success stories
under his belt, including the iMac,
and Apple Watches.
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997,
Apple was facing a billion-dollar black hole.
Were you surprised when Steve Jobs embraced your prototype
and made it part of the relaunch strategy?
Well, it was much more than embracing,
I mean, that was a product we worked on together.
And it was an important product for Apple.
I mean, it marked a radical change in the direction of the company,
and Apple had been really close to bankruptcy
at that point in the '90s.
The sales of the iMac would exceed all expectations
and reverse Apple's decline.
And how much did the iMac encourage consumers
to build almost an emotional bond
with the product and with the design?
Certainly the first half of the '90s,
the buying criteria had been defined by price,
hard drive size, chip speed.
And of course, we make much more important decisions
in our lives based on attributes you can't measure with a number.
-APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
One of the things the iMac, I think, did mark
was the recognition that design and the object
and how that would fit into your life, that was important.
The choice of colours might be dismissed as superficial,
although there's nothing superficial about using design
to create an emotional bond between users and their computers.
What would you say were the fundamental principles
that guide or motivate your work?
Just caring about every detail,
and whether that is an unseen detail,
or certainly details you don't see with your eyes.
I think we really have come to believe that we sense care.
There has to be a very strong relationship between good design
and something that is well made.
So that means paying attention to using materials
authentically and truthfully.
These products are so extraordinarily complex now.
Extremely complex in how we use them, and it's, I think,
the role of the designer to try and bring some order to the chaos.
Roma Agrawal is a design engineer
who helped build and shape Europe's tallest skyscraper,
the Shard in London.
From the depths of its foundation to securing the glass shards
at its pinnacle, she interprets the vision of the architect.
She works in the medium of steel, with the knowledge of an engineer
and the sensitivity of an artist.
When people walk around a city,
I think we do sometimes take it all for granted.
Everything in our city is actually very well thought through,
and it is quite incredible that all of these different types
of design and different types of designers come together
to create essentially what the soul of a city is.
The kind of design that I do can really vary
from being quite technical to being very, very aesthetic.
There are so many different ways
that you can join two pieces of steel together.
Even foundations are beautiful.
They're doing this incredibly important role.
When you create the wall of a basement,
there is a moment in time where you can go and stand and look at it
and you see this kind of beautiful, undulating,
very textured concrete in front of you.
So while you might not actually
be able to go and see a beautiful foundation,
it's holding back water, it's holding back the ground.
It's just pure desire.
Something I want to look at, one day live in.
I love the simplicity and how complex it is.
I always say that you must enjoy the view,
but you also need to look up.
This is one of my favourite views of the building,
cos you can actually see all these different angles that come together
to create the floors.
And you can see a rhythm of the steel columns here.
That was very much a collaborative design decision
between the design engineers and the architect.
At first when I look at it, every time I saw it...
..I thought, "Is it finished?"
This is a particular favourite of mine,
where you can actually see the top of one of the shards
that make up the building.
And you can see the interaction between the steel and glass
at this point quite clearly, and I really love the slim columns
and the slim beams, which are kind of off-set
back from the face of the columns.
And then I looked at it from a poetic perspective
and the sky finishes it.
I was brought in actually quite early on in the process
to work with the developers and the architect
and all the other designers involved.
The architects had this vision of keeping all the steel
open and exposed, and then we came in and looked at,
well, how do the pieces of structure need to be,
how far apart do they need to be?
When you're putting together these bits of steel,
we had a real impact on what those actual connections look like.
All of that, every single weld and every single bolt
has been thought through to make sure it looks fantastic.
It just reminds me of one time
I had the pleasures of hanging out with Quincy Jones,
and I asked him a question about Billie Jean.
Because when you hear it, you are thinking, "That's really simple".
MIMICS BILLIE JEAN RIFF
It's like, it's so simple, the structure of it all.
Quincy Jones said, from an engineering point of view,
started dialling into the frequency of the kick drum and the bass,
and making sure they didn't interfere with each other.
MIMICS BILLIE JEAN RIFF
So, I'm pretty sure...
I had the pleasure to hang out with Roma.
She took me on a tour to see how the Shard was made.
All the hours thinking about the weight of the steel
and the weight of the bolt and the nut
that all make it come together.
Think about all the sleepless nights she had trying to engineer it
in her mind.
All the simulations she had to go through in this virtual world,
to then go out and find the steel and carve it out, to build it.
I'm pretty sure her explanation would be similar in passion
to Quincy Jones about music.
From an experiential installation at the Victoria and Albert Museum...
to innovative furniture designs,
Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby are comfortable stepping outside
the traditional boundaries of industrial design.
One thing that people have said to us about a number of the projects
we've worked on is it's the best idea that no-one's had.
In recent years, they have won some of the highest profile commissions
in Britain and the world,
including a commemorative £2 coin,
and the commission to design the torch for the London 2012 Olympics.
We wanted to have a torch that would perform
better than any torch previously.
It's just one of those amazing experiences
that you pinch yourself when you get to do it.
I was really lucky - I got to carry the torch in 2012,
and I carried it across the Millennium Bridge.
It's really tactile, you've got all those holes in it
and it's got a prism shape, isn't it?
I liked it. Every now and again I do, I must admit,
I hold it up in the front room and think, "Yeah, I carried that."
When we first started on the design of the torch,
we imagined it purely as a sculptural object.
No-one had ever produced a torch that had never gone out.
There's a lot of running and a lot of wind conditions
that it has to perform in.
Barber and Osgerby wanted to come up with a compelling narrative
to inform the torch design.
Som it was the third Olympic Games in London, and the Olympic motto,
which is "Faster, higher, stronger".
so we took those threes and actually developed the shape of the torch.
If you look down at the top of the torch,
there's actually a triangular form to represent that.
When we came up with a pattern that we really liked,
we realised that there were 7,600-and-something holes.
And at that point, we thought, well, there are 8,000 runners,
why don't we do 8,000 holes?
The prototyping process went from a foam version
to a paper version with the holes drawn in place
to a version made by a 3-D printer.
This was the first thing we looked at and thought
this is very close to what the final torch might be.
Then to a version in metal.
This was the very first prototype made out of sheets of aluminium,
laser-cut, and in this particular case,
you see where we've welded it here,
so you still have the solid metal field.
This version would test how well
various finishes stood up to the heat of a flame.
We quickly decided that the torch should be gold.
In the Olympic Games, your aspiration is to win a gold medal.
We looked back over the history of the torches
and actually, no-one had done a gold torch before,
which we found quite interesting.
We worked out there were 8,000 torches
and each torch had 8,000 holes,
so that was 64 million holes that needed to be cut.
The fastest laser cutting machine in the UK would have taken
six years to make all the torches.
So we had a big problem. We only had 18 months to make them.
In a race against time, the Olympic Committee located
a laser cutting machine that cut holes at record-breaking speed.
The performance requirements expected the torch to function
flawlessly in extreme conditions.
We went to BMW in Munich and used their wind tunnel,
and in a wind tunnel, we blasted it with 75mph winds,
with torrential rain, and actually they lowered the temperature
so there was snow being fired at it.
And it passed all those tests.
Barber and Osgerby would also design the colour of the flame.
We had to work with some engineers
to get the exact right mix of gas, so we had a butane and propane mix,
and what that did was it gave us the perfect colour of flame.
So that the flame could be easily seen on television.
When the Olympic torch arrived,
it was fraught with tension and excitement
and there was the fear that the flame might go out.
All we could stare at was the flame, making sure it was still alight.
Actually I'm not sure we could even really look,
it was so nerve-racking.
There were something like three billion people watching worldwide.
And at the Olympic opening ceremony,
there were no torch flame-outs.
Our final designer is Sir Terence Conran.
He's the designer's designer,
whose work has been at the forefront of British design
for the past six decades.
And he has used his success
to benefit the design industry as a whole.
I've got more work now than I've ever had in my life.
And here I am at the age of 85,
who should be putting down the pencil and saying,
"Come on," to young designers, "you get on with it."
As busy as he is, he occasionally finds the time to relax
in the garden of his estate in Wiltshire.
And he always finds the time to enjoy a Cuban cigar,
preferably Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2.
Designs by the founder of Habitat have always been in demand.
Even an ashtray he designed for one of his upmarket restaurants
triggered a crime spree.
I heard 10,000 of those ashtrays were stolen from Quaglino's.
-Is that correct?
-I think it was more like 100,000.
-A gigantic quantity.
When the first Habitat store opened in Chelsea in 1964,
it was at home in the cultural revolution of the '60s.
Designs for home furnishings acquired an elegance
and affordability it never dared aspire to.
Habitat was really cool when I was young.
What Habitat offered was what seemed to be modern design
that was not like the sort of stuff you had grown up with,
which by and large, before that, furniture was big and it was dark
and it was drab.
Habitat wasn't really selling furniture.
Habitat was selling a modern lifestyle.
If Britain had a ministry of taste,
it would no doubt be headed by Sir Terence Conran.
Do you see yourself as creating British taste
or shifting British taste?
I think gradually moving it. Bringing it gently along.
Terence Conran would build a high-street empire
on the design philosophy of plain, simple and useful.
The intelligence of a designer will go into shaping that product
and making it a product that people, I believe,
will enjoy more than a product
that hasn't had that same consideration given to it.
Flatpack furniture was another stroke of brilliance.
It kept costs down and brought couples closer together
as they fought to assemble their new furniture.
When you were a young person living in a bedsit or flat,
Habitat offered you an opportunity, as it were,
to reinvent yourself as a creature of a new world.
Terence Conran introduced millions to modern design
for their kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms.
Habitat was responsible for introducing Britain to the duvet,
and I understand it may have had an impact on our sex lives.
Would you take some credit for the way our sex lives have changed,
with the introduction of the duvet?
Well, I'm always fascinated by the duvet story,
because...it was such a success.
Irene is here to tell us all about duvets, and there she is in kip,
as lovely and as clean and friendly as Bexhill-on-Sea.
Isn't he a cheeky monkey? Well, this is a duvet...
The duvet became a bedroom hit in the new era of sexual liberation.
I had been staying in Austria
and I'd been put to bed with a duvet and thought,
"Oh, this is jolly nice, why don't we have them in England?"
So we brought in the duvet, and in our Habitat catalogues,
we did this extremely good picture
of a man making the bed with a duvet,
while his girlfriend was making herself up
in a mirror on a dressing table.
And we added a little caption, it said,
"20 seconds to make a bed..."
And it just worked. And you know,
every young person at that time wanted a duvet,
and I do think it had perhaps
something to do with their sex life as well.
Because it was relaxed and a bit abandoned.
So you made a lot of us late for work!
It's the latest coup by the millionaire creator of Habitat,
Sir Terence Conran.
His retailing empire is worth more than £650 million.
When Habitat, the company I'd built,
became a public company, I had a lot of money.
Terence Conran has been the godfather
to the new and the original Design Museum,
which was founded in 1989.
I had a sort of patriotic urge...
Conran brought funding and a personal vision
to introduce Britain to an international design perspective.
I felt it was very important that British designers
and British manufacturers should understand the world.
Ten years ago I was hired by Terence and the other trustees
at the museum with a brief to move the museum somewhere bigger,
more accessible, where we could do more things.
And he's been a constant presence behind my shoulder, saying,
"Have you thought about this? Have you thought about that?"
A donation of £17 million by Terence Conran
also helped to make the new Design Museum a reality.
I still get this real excitement
when something that you've worked on
and thought about for many years
actually becomes a reality.
Making things, I think, is very much at the root of design.
That's the most joyful thing for me.
For me, design starts with how things are made.
Whilst I like to think very internationally,
I think that British design is very special,
and it's to be preserved and protected.
The museum will showcase an international mix
of design of the past and design of the future.
Design is important to the economic survival of this country.
Design has changed my life.
The Design Museum will grow to be more and more our spiritual home.
The role of a design museum is inspiration.
I still think that the role of the museum,
I think, arguably, is probably greater now than it's ever been.
Why didn't I go and do something useful with my life,
like producing something?
I've got myself a bookcase that... I've only made one so far,
but I'm hoping that will take off,
because it has a great second purpose.
It's actually a coffin as well.
The idea of taking the books out and getting into the bookcase
seems to me the perfect way to end your days, really.
If there were an olympic league table for design, Britain would be right at the top. Since the Second World War, British designers have revolutionised our homes, our workplaces, our roads and our public institutions.
In November the Design Museum opens its new £83m home in Kensington. To mark this great moment for British design, BBC Arts profiles ten great living British designers.
Arts reporter Brenda Emmanus meets and profiles our 'Top 10', to find out what inspires them to make such phenomenal objects. She reveals how designers have responded to society's evolving tastes, from the brash 60s modernism of Margaret Calvert's road signs through to the colourful technology of Rick Dickinson's ZX Spectrum. She also meets Britain's most prolific designer, Sir Kenneth Grange (Intercity 125, bus shelters, the Kenwood Chef...), as well as Andrew Ritchie, who gave the world the Brompton Bike
And we also hear from an illustrious panel of celebrities whose lives have been transformed by British design, including Will.i.am, Jeremy Paxman, Pete Waterman, Ade Adepitan and Jenny Eclair.