Innovation has always been at the centre of everything I do.
I always think about how I can take a step forward through an idea or concept and do it in a better way, or in a useful and never before seen way, while achieving and exceeding the goals of the project.
I also work at speed and find that if you practice your craft enough, your first and instinctual ideas and thoughts are often the best. Especially when you consider the additional time, effort and money it will take to try and find a better one. You will also doubtless improve upon those original ideas as you develop or implement them.
Innovation should not be an end in itself, it should have and serve a greater purpose, and it shouldlead to something better than the idea or solution it replaces.
Knowledge & Experience
Knowledge should EMPOWER new ways of doing, and not limit ORIGINAL IDEAS.
I bring over 20 years of knowledge across multiple industries and have worked with a wide range of brands and agencies.
My focus for the last 12 years has been on creativity and play in its many forms while leading innovation at the LEGO Company.
My last role was the Director for Digital Innovation and play. Exploring and developing new concepts for digital platforms, paradigms and play patterns including mobile gaming, social platforms, VR and AR.
One of many roles with the company, initiating and leading new areas of development, exploration, making and releasing products, tackling new problems in new ways.
Doing something one way successfully, or even unsuccessfully in the past does not guarantee the same result in the future. Often you can learn more from a failure than a success, you also want to learn how to succeed.
Creativity is a central theme to my work and has always been in my life.
Creativity is understood to be ‘the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination: the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts.’
I see the need for creativity in all things, be they play or work, for the young or old.
I will try to bring creativity into any project as I believe we are creative beings and like to create or customise and control every aspect of our lives if it can be offered in an accessible and fun way.
I created art, toys and concepts using building blocks every bit as much and pencils and paint and glue as a young child, and continue to do so today. I see building with something like a system of bricks like painting or drawing in 3D.
Concept & Design
Great design comes from insight, and also from a great brief.
It’s about finding the best solution to the identified problem within the agreed or available constraints.
That may mean challenging the brief to get it right BEFORE you start on the solution phase. In my experience, you save a lot of wasted time that way.
You also want to create the right strategy based on an identified need or opportunity.
Do you need to improve something existing? Or create a new product, experience or service for an identified need and consumer group.
The importance is on knowing WHAT you are setting out to achieve, for WHOM and WHY.
There will be many answers to HOW to do that, some will be more viable than others, and one or two will be the most optimal, and most likely to result in a successful outcome.
There is no one RIGHT answer. There are many WRONG ones
Play is essential. It is also often overlooked and underserved in today’s world.
It is just as important for adults but we have been taught to give up childish ways as we become adults, there is a recent realisation of how wrong this is.
Play—physical, constructive, imaginative, role-play, and games with rules— All of which help us develop physically, socially and emotionally and cognitively.
• . Imaginative play lays the foundations for creativity, allowing kids to express feelings, communicate, and experiment with reality.
• . Constructive play builds reasoning, spatial awareness, dexterity and problem-solving
• . Physical active play can build gross motor skills, social and collaboration skills, and mental as well as physical strength.
• . Role play helps develop emotional regulation and critical relationship skills, including empathy.
• . Games with rules help develop cooperation, patience, understanding rules, mastery, social skills and negotiation, being a gracious winner and more importantly learning to lose, get up and try again.
“Play is a primary, indeed a primal, way that we learn to understand and experience the world around us,” writes educator and creativity guru Ken Robinson.
“The simple act of free, self-initiated play helps unlock a child’s innate creativity, imagination, interests and talents,” Robinson also writes in a recent study. “It helps children to uncover who they are, and imparts invaluable skills they will need to possess in the uncertain future they will face tomorrow.”
I had the pleasure of consulting with RESONAI on a wonderful idea they had to demonstrate their state of the art visual recognition through a playful exhibit for kids at the Tech Musuem of Innovation.
The Animaker exhibit invites visitors to collaborate with AI-powered robots to bring their creations to life. Visitors step into a large-scale projection of a jungle temple where robots invite them to form animals out of LEGO/Duplo bricks. Their creations are analyzed by the robots, incorporating cutting edge 3D-scanning technology and an AI-powered search engine that understands 3D content.
The animals then come to life in a virtual ancient temple, and can be personalized by changing their look and behavior. Through the experience children play and learn about AI by training machines to recognize different interpretations of the animals through shapes and real world objects like toy bricks.
The exhibit has had great success and exceeded all the targets and goals set out.
I love print design. I have done many magazine and editorial designs over the years and some books too.
In my opinion, great editorial design pulls the reader in. It makes the message, story, information you wish to impart both legible but engaging and playful. In most cases you are learning about something you didn’t know, so for me the test of a good design is how much information is retained by the target reader, NOT how many design awards it got.
You should always have the consumer in mind and surprise and delight them but do not confuse them with design or reduce readability.
Sponsored Editorial and advertorials were always the most fun for me because they try to please so many different masters and have financial goals and targets. So if you can make everyone happy and include in that your client, their agency, your team(s) and the reader you have always achieved something impressive.
These three productions remain some of my favourites, and despite being for the purpose of advertising were requested by readers for additional and replacement copies and had tangible sales boosts for the client. We had fun making them and i think that showed.
IN A WORD
This was printed by the Guardian Newspaper in association with Nissan. Great research and writing from Nick Taylor. Amazing Illustrations by the infinitely talented Jonathan Edwards. http://www.jonathan-e.com/
The Magazine had multiple issues and was printed by the Guardian Newspaper in association with Toyota for the launch year of the Prius.
Favourite moment was having the idea to illustrate the financial piece with origami made of real money and sourcing and getting them produced so fast the creator had to run to his bank immediately and send us the art made of his own money by courier next day, BEFORE we had any contract or paid him anything.
I’m afraid i cant now remember who made these tanks, but these days i would use Kyle bean for such work, he is a paper genius and a lovely guy too. https://kylebean.co.uk/ Photography by the wonderful, witty and wise Jill Mead http://www.jillmead.co.uk/
Part of a bigger playful pitch, I collaborated with the pixel genius of Eboy (http://hello.eboy.com/eboy/) to create this playground as a giant centre page colour spread in the old Broadsheet paper.
Seems obvious now but it was an award nominee back then :)
A TRUE SANDBOX PLAY EXPERIENCE
When an opportunity arose to pitch a new type of digital play experience I seized the chance.
I dreamt of infinite worlds, that would be fully customisable in the ways the player would desire. It would not be A game but a place to make games or play, build to your heart's content with limitless freedom and bricks. Play with friends, wherever they were in the real world, together. All this and so much more. The concept video I created for this pitch remains one of my favourite pieces of work.
As with any great undertaking, the journey is long and compromises are often forced upon you, however by sticking to your vision, many of your goals and dreams may yet be realised. The important thing is that these dreams are not just your own but those of the consumer, you are their representative and the one in position to deliver on their dreams.
I am proud of what was I believe the closest we have seen to a digital play experience fitting the physical creative building and open role play. While not fulfilling its many ambitions and possibilities, it became a fantastic, successful and well-loved play experience and broke new ground in many areas, much of that was also due to the incredible team at TT Games and also the stewardship of Jordan Itkowitz and Philip James.
In the meantime, you can have fun with the game on STEAM, PS4, XBOX1 or NINTENDO SWITCH.
Go build was a mobile first touch building play experience.
Launched only in a beta form on Google Beta it still amassed over 6 million downloads and over 12 million unique pieces of user generated content were created.
This was the first mobile experience that allowed you to build a LEGO set digitally brick by brick. It also allowed for free creativity, and had a guessing game component to allow users to see how others had built various models, by building the model slowly in front of you one brick at a time until you guessed what it was.
Virtual & Augmented Reality
This was the first LEGO VR and AR experience, and was developed for mobile on Google’s Daydream VR, and ARCore.
Brickheadz Builder VR has been widely noted as one of the best apps available on Google Daydream by credible outlets like Tech Radar, VR Scout and The Verge.
Working on prototype technology and at a very fast pace we devised a way to build models in a Virtual 3Dimensional setting and then also rig and bring the characters to life. Together with Schell Games we designed a system that gave them a brain and attributes you could discover that would change how they behaved and interacted with other characters and objects. For the first time you could build a character out of bricks in your own design and then bring it to life and both play with it and also see it walk about and interact with its environment.
I also Devised a unique UI interface of a magic book that floated up from the table and hovered in the air. You could move and resize it and it contained all the information and UI for the experience. It was a completely new control paradigm and tailor made for both the VR but also the AR play interaction.
We tested it on boys and girls of all ages and found both the book, the building and indeed the play experience to appeal to everyone. This too was special to this project.
The unfortunate consequence sometimes of being on the cutting edge of things is that relatively few people have the hardware to get to experience the play, we saw this as a part of the pioneering new forms of play approach. As you could iron out any flaws with a smaller group before choosing when it should scale.
Demo of The AR characters and the Physical Characters in outdoor location.
The social LIFE
It’s the safe and social place for all kids creative builds and inspiration.
The app was the Children’s and Family 2018 People's Voice / Webby Award Winner
Creating the space for a new way for the company to talk to and engage its younger audience and moving away from a Website that was trying to serve too many masters.
It had to promote creativity while understanding the challenges around freedom of expression, moderation and safety online for kids.
There were many internal challenges involved with selling in and building up a new structure and approach that went against the installed setup and strategy.
The key approach was a clear communication that involved all stakeholders and took them along the journey with the team, combined with an externally authenticated and validated business strategy and cost and saving breakdown.
Finished off with a killer video that sold the future promise on offer.
For all the accolades an external recognition it has been the internal effects and influence of the project that had the greatest results.
The team went on to go from the original 3 pioneers to over 100 strong and took over the website, the magazine and essentially became the digital face of the company to its core audience, kids.
Lego Games was a new product range designed for physical social LEGO play.
It was a series of playable games of different types, all of which used Lego bricks and the unique buildable LEGO Dice, and furthermore used the Lego concept of building to encourage players to change and adapt the rules of the games and make them their own.
I pitched the overall concept including designing the dice and most of the games.
I then led product design and innovation as we went into production.
The core concept was BUILD-PLAY-CHANGE.
By having the children build the game, it was not only a fun part of the experience but they were also able to gain some understanding of how the game might also function, even before they heard the rules. It also gave them the confidence to adjust and change the game later.
Social play with rules is not only a fun way to spend time with others and challenge yourself, it also teaches boundaries and rules, turn taking, negotiation and strategy. Risk taking in a safe environment is a necessary part of a child development and few things do this so well as games.
We also wanted to ensure creativity was an integral part of any LEGO games experience. We showed how you could change 1 thing with the game, a rule, a side of the dice, a part of the board or adding something else to the play. This encouraged the child to further make the game their own, with ownership comes greater engagement and mastery. Games with rules are usually locked down and we wanted to open the creative side of these kids and let them explore their and the games potential.
LEGO GAMES went on to win over 30 awards and accolades including the Goldenes Schaukelpferd, Spielzeug des Jahres and the Toy Innovation Award in 2009.