Product and industrial design studio Jones & Partners was awarded its fifth Design Guild Mark in 2022 for Swell, an acoustic wall cladding solution for The Collective Agency
For Jones and Partners, Swell not only marked the studio’s first award in our Interior Design Elements category, but also the first design to receive the best in category award, the Jonathan Hindle Prize.
Reacting to this news at the time, Craig Jones, founder of the studio, said: “The whole Jones & Partners studio are very honoured to receive the Jonathan Hindle Prize. The recognition fuels our team with confidence that we continue to make good choices in our development and innovation.”
Since then, we sat down with Craig to find out more about his career.
Who is your design hero?
I do not really have one specific hero, but I have been lucky enough to meet Niels Diffrient and Javier Mariscal at different stages of my career. Both were kind enough to offer their advice. I think it is fair to say there are design heroes in all of us. We have worked with many who do not receive the credibility they deserve. So, my view is the title should not be exclusive to the designer.
When did you first decide you were going to be a designer?
When I was at comprehensive school. I had an inspirational teacher who pushed us hard. We were encouraged to get external industry involved in our projects and use their production facilities. My GCSE project was a terrarium manufactured from aluminum and Perspex and produced by a local factory who made windows near my school.
What was your first big break in the industry?
Working for Herman Miller in Australia, I had a glimpse of what new product development really was and the scale of those opportunities. Ironically, I chose not to follow that path but to return home and try it my own way. Brave or naïve, I’m not sure I will ever know.
What was the first product you ever designed?
A golfing accessory for a friend of my fathers. However, as a professional employed designer, I worked on lots of systems-based furniture with corporate clients. My first few years as an independent designer were filled with multiple product launches. These products were benching systems for Techo, a furniture system for DWP and mobile furniture for Cap Gemini. It’s fair to say we hit the ground running.
What do you enjoy about being a designer?
The freedom of expression, solving problems, working with my colleagues, happy clients, and loyal skilled suppliers…They are some of the aspects, but probably the most satisfying element of being a designer is seeing your product on a shelf in a store, walking past buildings with the products being used by people. This satisfaction is not about ego but more the fact the studio has been part of this evolution. It is very satisfying and never gets any less exciting when products are launched.
What is the most frustrating aspect of your job?
I would rather answer this question with a positive spin of what challenges are most difficult for designers. Our role is an extensive and important one. The part we play through the design process is never the same and certainly not linear. The more diverse a project is, the more challenges we must overcome and resolve. This ensures the project is a commercial success for all concerned.
Which design are you most proud of?
That would be commercial suicide as I am proud of everything we have designed and created as a studio over the last 20 years. We have had a great deal of commercial success that has led to design awards. A product we have designed that has received the greatest number of awards, including a Design Guild Mark and a Red Dot, is Thinking Quietly, so this is definitely in our top 10. I think it is always a challenge to choose a favorite as the products we have designed have different purposes and meanings to their intended audience, whether that it is aesthetics, commercial success, material innovation, award winning and so on… That and more is what makes it difficult to choose.
What is your creative process? How do you get in the mood to design something?
The process really depends on the client and project. It may start with client workshops, research or simply a pencil and some light bulb moments. All our projects are prepared and shared within the studio, so we always have an introduction to the project and decide who is best suited to resolve the challenges set by the client. The mood to be honest is always excitement as we are designing in many categories and no day is the same.
What influences you?
Everything, materials, manufacturing, objects, people, travel, buildings, sport, food, opportunities & a large splash of good fun and enjoyment. Part of being a creative designer is opening your mind to all sorts of possibilities. That why an open mind, absorbing of all parts of life & culture enabling the design process to be successful.
Is there a product you wish you’d designed?
Not sure I want to get embroiled in design envy. Admiration of design and designers I think is where you should draw the line. I applaud the innovators of technology, material science and risk takers. The world of F1, motor industry and aviation always makes me bow my head with respect. The number of people and skill required to deliver complex products in these sectors is mind boggling.
For more information about Jones and Partners, go to www.jonespartners.co.uk