What’s your background?
I started as a graphics specialist in the video games industry before doing a degree in information design. I then joined a TV production company’s in-house design team working on title sequences, website design, print and branding, so have always enjoyed quite a cross-media approach. From there, I joined a design and branding agency where I really learnt the power and importance of brand thinking. I spent quite a while there before joining a specialist London website agency to get into the nitty gritty of UX and UI design and web development. Before joining Embrace, I ran the in-house design team at a large PR agency, working across everything from social media to motion graphics, branding and website design.
What does your role at Embrace involve?
It covers consultancy on design, application, design thinking, branding, but also the production side too. So everything from initial ideas and concepts through to the final execution – across a wide range of both traditional and digital media. When you get a brief, you can either go and do exactly as asked, or you can really analyse it, really talk to the client and find out what their problems are. From this there’s the opportunity create an alternative brief that actually does what they want in a more effective way. It’s really important to remember that often, you’re not the target audience and neither is the client – that’s where it’s really useful to apply UX – ie. ‘User Experience’ design thinking to every project, not just to the web.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Embrace is made up of a diverse range of people, but with everyone pulling in the same direction, with the same goal – which is to get the best results we can, through design, through strategy and marketing experience and ultimately to make the best of the medium and budget we’re working with. I've seen at other creative agencies, often you've got lots of different teams and different people with different criteria, all pulling in different directions – taking more time and costing the client more money without really producing better results. There’s an open, very friendly atmosphere at Embrace and everybody seems to work really well together as a team.
Who would be on your list of dream dinner party guests?
If I could have people from the past, I’d invite Leonardo Da Vinci to talk to him about his sketches and ideas. It would be amazing to show him a real helicopter based on some of those original sketches from hundreds of years ago! I’d invite other people who inspired me like movie animation pioneer Ray Harryhausen, visionary film director Ridley Scott and the influential graphic designer Neville Brody.
If you could pick a superpower, what would it be?
I’ve had a couple of flying lessons and sometimes dream of flying, so I think it would have to be being able to fly. It would be such an amazing experience having this totally different perspective of the world.
Name one item you couldn’t live without
I’m going to choose my PlayStation because it got me through lockdown. My wife and I used it to connect and spend time with friends online when we couldn’t meet up. I think gaming is an often overlooked medium that doesn’t get the credit it deserves – it’s a huge driver of cutting edge technology and I think there have been quite a few games over the years that have transcended the narrative possibilities of more ‘passive’ media such as movies. When you are ‘in’ the story, it can be a much more powerful experience and this is even more true when it comes to VR – where we’ve still only scratched the surface of what’s possible.
Any side projects / other interests you’d like to share?
As a little hobby, and related to my interest in games, I've had a go at creating online escape rooms with puzzles to solve and narratives that unfold depending on your choices. It’s been fascinating to test them out on friends, family and colleagues – and see how the experience can be very different each time. I think, when they work, interactive experiences can offer much more engaging possibilities.