Midlands Lifetime Achievement Award

Adrian Noble

Adrian NobleAdrian Keith Noble is a theatre director, and was also the artistic director and chief executive of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1990 to 2003.During his career, he received over 20 Olivier Award nominations. After this time of searching for his independence, Noble returned to the RSC in March 1991, this time as artistic director. In 1993, he won the Globe Award for Best Director for The Winter’s Tale. His production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1994) was popular enough to be revived two years later, and Noble also turned it into a film adaptation in 1996. He resigned from the RSC in 2002, stating that “it is now time for me to seek new artistic challenges”.
He has also directed several successful London West End musicals including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Secret Garden, and adapted Henrik Ibsen’s play, Brand, for the London theatre in 2003.[6] In 2007, he took Jean-Paul Sartre’s Kean to Malvern, Bath and Brighton, before it transferred to the West End in the spring of that year.[7] In 2008 he directed Hamlet for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and in 2010 Alcina for the Vienna State Opera.

Adrian Shooter

Adrian ShooterAdrian Shooter, aged 63, recently announced his retirement after 18-years as chairman of Chiltern Railways.
Through his tireless commitment, focus on innovation in delivering a new model for railway travel between London and Birmingham he transformed the journey between Birmingham’s Snow Hill station and Marylebone in London having secured millions of pounds in investment to upgrade the route. Chiltern beat off competition from larger operators to run services along the second route between the Midlands and the capital following the privatisation of British Rail in 1996.
Under Mr Shooter’s stewardship, the company is regarded as one of the great success stories of deregulation by increasing capacity and slashing journey times.

According to the Oxford Times, 18th June 2012, Adrian Shooter, “played with toy trains when he was aged six and knew then that he wanted to run real trains when he grew up.”

Adrian Shooter, contributing to The Chiltern Railways Story by Hugh Jones, wrote: “Since my childhood, I have always thought it would be a rather nice idea to run a railway. I didn’t quite see how it was going to happen since the railways were nationalised at the time which, by the way, I always thought was a big mistake.”
The Oxford Times continues, “(Adrian) saw his opportunity to realise his dream while still working at British Railways. Mr Shooter’s approach to making a railway pay while working out of such a classic piece of Victorian architecture as Marylebone Railway Station, was based on the approach to travel taken by an American airline: Southwest Airlines. He had noticed it was the only airline to consistently turn in profits, and did so by keeping things simple: no first class carriages for instance, fast turn-around times to keep cost down and, above all, frequent and reliable services. He also managed to negotiate a 20-year franchise in exchange for a promise to invest millions in new trains, car parks, stations and services — bringing old lines back to life. This has enabled the company to extend the line to Kidderminster and will soon lead to a new service to Oxford. And even though Chiltern Railways is now owned by the giant German state-owned Deutsche Bahn, Mr Jones said the operating team is still allowed a great deal of autonomy within the bigger structure. Adrian Shooter speaks in the book about his work as a British Railways carriage and wagon inspector. He wrote: “I discovered in those days that Chiltern was always a piece of forgotten railway. It had been the Great Central Railway, but had then been taken over by the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER). However the LNER didn’t really want it, as it had more important railways running out of King’s Cross and Liverpool Street. It then became Western region, but the Western region didn’t really want it because it went to Paddington. When I took it over it had become London Midland Region ,but London Midland Region then, as now, was always focused on the West Coast Main Line, and when they had a few spare minutes they would think about the Midland Main Line out of St Pancras. That left absolutely nothing for Marylebone” He adds: “I saw the opportunity to take a railway away from the sterile yoke of a nationalised industry.” Adrian’s retirement leaves him with more time to enjoy his 120-year-old 2ft-gauge steam powered railway and Darjeeling Himalayan steam locomotive which runs around the three-acre garden at his home near Bicester in Oxfordshire. (Sources Oxford Times, 18th June 2012 and Birmingham Post July 1, 2011)

Alasdhair Willis

Alasdhair WillisAlasdhair Willis, perhaps not seen as a household name, is, in the design world, recognised for his achievements, nous and foresight, as others might appreciate a fine wine. Alasdhair re-launched ‘Modern Review’ with Julie Birchill, later founding iconic design magazine, Wallpaper, along with editor Tyler Brûlé . This magazine’s graphic values, typifying ‘the slick, seductive décor of late-’90s urban living’, was a huge success, both critically and financially. Willis was publisher of Wallpaper until 2002, leaving on his marriage to renowned fashion designer Stella McCartney the following year. He set up ‘Established & Sons’ in London in 2005 with the radical aim of promoting the work of British designers. Alasdhair and his colleagues, set about curating a collection of high-end design objects conceived, produced, and sold in the UK – something which had not previously been attempted here. Established created a challenging retail format by pushing a broad range of designers and approaches from Zaha Hadid to the pure minimalistic cubes of Jasper Morrison, leading to the its recognition as a ‘union for radical creativity (membership based on talent)’. Established was seen as having led in terms of its focus on investing, researching, and collaborating with upcoming and renowned designers at every step and through this nurturing an international movement with ‘a specific interest in keeping the art of objects alive’. Speaking about the team that set up Established, Alasdhair Willis said, “There was Sebastian Wong, who is still my business partner and design development director. There was Mark Holmes, whom I knew from art college; he’s a designer himself. There was Angad Paul, who was manufacturer, business partner, and an investor in the company. And Tamara Caspersz, who was also a founding member. We all came from creative positions, first and foremost, which is evident in how we put our collections together. We took risks and went into areas a traditional manufacturer wouldn’t dream of going.” After Established Alasdhair set up creative consultancy, ‘Announcement’ and brand partner, ‘The Anonymous Partner’, with clients including international brand icons such as David Beckham, Dunhill and Adidas. He has spoken publicly about weekends spent at their family home in Worcestershire where Alasdhair has indulged his new passion for landscape gardening and trees.


Betty JacksonA British fashion designer based in London who graduated from the Birmingham Institute of Art & Design, Betty Jackson has gained a reputation for designing clothes for the sophisticated, individual woman. Her first collection saw the light of day in 1981, and four years later she picked up the title of British Designer of the Year. In 2007 her achievement within British fashion was honoured with a CBE. She is also known for designing the outrageous costumes of Eddy and Patsy on the 1990s hit television comedy Absolutely Fabulous. She studied fashion at the Birmingham College of Art under Zandra Rhodes, and started her fashion career as a fashion illustrator during her senior year (1971) at college.

Charles Morgan

Charles MorganCharles Morgan runs the last remaining wholly owned British motor company, Morgan Motor Company, based in Malvern Worcestershire having worked in the business since 1985. “ I joined the the company in 1985 from ITN where I’d been working as a cameraman overseas with reporters like Sandy Gall in Afghanistan,” he explained in an interview in September 2010. Morgan produce 800 cars a year, 70% of which are exported. Charles said, “We employ about 150 people generating £30m turnover and delivering a profit. We’re a global brand and we’ve been manufacturing for 101 years.” He has an abiding interest in design and is pre-occupied with driving innovation in this family-owned business. “You re-design an icon at your peril. How to start this process is a question we’ve had to ask ourselves. We started by asking what makes our cars the icons they’ve become? • Driving experience – sit in a Morgan and it fits around you..it’s the embodiment of ‘driving by the seat of your pants’. • We have a strong family element. I own shares in the company together with my sister and niece. We look after past and current employees. The average age of our workforce is 37, they’re loyal and committed, and we appreciate all they do for us. • A Morgan ‘forces you to interact in a positive way with your environment’. We produced the first cars in the UK using water-based paints. Our cars are very light and economical – you could say Morgan was the only car company which started off with an environmental agenda – ‘Lightweight, Balance, Minimalism.’ • Customisable cars – we’ve noticed consumers in general are getting more demanding and in turn we encourage our customers to choose the car they want and, for example, to watch their cars being made. • Vertical Integration is one of our core strengths – we’re a small company that tries to do as much as possible for itself. We identify the core skills we need at our factory and have in-house. We’re incredibly proud to be the largest car maker still in British hands and this does give us a sense of responsibility. Henry Frederick Stanley (‘HFS’) Morgan, my grandfather and our founder, built his first car, a three wheeler, with help from ‘Mr Stephenson Peach’, then Engineering Master at Malvern and Repton Colleges and grandson of the renowned designer of the”Rocket”. HFS began manufacturing in 1910 and the first two-seaters were exhibited at the 1911 Olympia Show. Mr Burbridge, the owner of Harrods who liked them so much he put one in the window of his famous store. HFS broke the 1100 cc. One-hour Record travelling just short of 60 mph for one hour at Brooklands in 1912 and his sister, Dorothy, was a regular entrant in reliability trials. At the end of 1913 the Morgan Runabout had gained a greater number of awards for reliability and speed than any other Cyclecar or Light Car. We started designing new cars again as well as starting to race and win races again – putting the brand back on the motor map. Racing is an essential testing ground for us, enabling us to prove new technologies and components in a cost effective way, for example, the suspension on the Morgan racing car is the same as the suspension on the road car. Matthew Humphries our Chief Designer is in tune with Morgan’s DNA with a real empathy and understanding of how to build on this to find new design routes for the future.

Dr Shirley Frost

Dr Shirley FrostShirley Frost set up designGAP in 1980 to assist high quality, innovative, contemporary UK artist-makers and designer-producers with the promotion of their work.

Not as an agent but as a catalyst. The first event was a group stand of 16 including herself at a Trade Fair in 1981 under the umbrella of the Design Council. She still runs designGAP voluntary as a not for profit venture without government or other grant funding. Over the years it could well be that a total of about 3,000 have been assisted in one way or another.

Since that successful first show many well established and newly emerging creatives have shown with her on Trade Show stands of Fashion, Giftware, Jewellery and Interior Accessories in the UK and Overseas and more recently into Retail Exhibitions too. DesignGAP and its exhibitors have won many awards and been featured on television, in numerous newspapers and magazines.

Shirley?s photographic collection of designers? work has been useful to a number of specialist writers and in the early 1980?s it was the main source for a V&A Museum Collection of Contemporary Fashion Jewellery.

In the mid-1980?s there was a small designGAP shop for fashion accessories in Hyper- Hyper London, which she set up as a Designer Co-operative. Later she opened a designGAP Showroom in Birmingham as a year-long experiment. Five years of illness in the early 90?s curtailed further developments, but in the spring of 1997 she published her first designGAP TRADE BUYERS? GUIDE, and since then there have been nine annual bound editions with other years having designGAP DIRECTORY updates. Additional information is available in the constantly growing website www.designgap.co.uk which also first went online in 1997 also. These two developments together compliment and reinforce the Trade Fair promotions. The website, of course, is available to a far wider audience and has a broad range of information available relating to contemporary craft and design.

DesignGAP celebrated its 25th Birthday in 2005. In May of that year Shirley was presented with the GA?s Honorary Achievement Award for her major contribution to the UK gift industry and in December she received an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the Business School of the University of Birmingham for her innovative work assisting mini-micro creative businesses.

Shirley is still searching for a permanent administrative home for designGAP where there could be an archive documenting all the projects and past members with full information on current members and if space allows, changing exhibitions could be held to mirror proposed Virtual exhibitions on the website. In the meantime while still running designGAP Shirley is working on the vast amount of archive reference which has accumulated in the office at The Big Peg in Birmingham?s Jewellery Quarter.

In 2010 designGAP celebrated its 30th anniversary.

Emma Bridgewater

Emma BridgewaterEmma Bridgewater is one of the largest pottery manufacturers based entirely in the UK, with all of its products made in its factory in the city of Stoke-on-Trent, where it is one of the largest employers. The company was founded by Emma Bridgewater in 1985, when she was looking for a birthday present for her mother. Wanting to buy a cup and saucer but being unable to find any she liked, Emma decided to create her own. Drawing four shapes, a mug, a bowl, a jug and a dish, samples were created in Stoke-on-Trent. Matthew, Emma’s husband, also designs for Emma Bridgewater. He indulges his passion for birdlife in the best-selling Birds range. In its first year the company had a turnover of around £30,000. By 2009 this had increased to almost £8 million, and £11 million in 2010, employing 180 people. (Source Wikipedia) (Extract from interview Birmingham Post business Blog 25th February 2011) “Everyone told me you shouldn’t go into manufacturing, so I thought, why not? I think I will. And you don’t want to stay making in Stoke, everyone’s going abroad. Why? I think I’ll stay here. I don’t think we should automatically do the obvious. I don’t understand why there aren’t more Emma Bridgewaters. We employ 180 people and we’re recruiting at the moment. We’ve had two years of flabbergasting growth; in the year that just finished we grew in excess of 30% and that’s on top of 30% the previous year. In 1985 we had a turnover of £30,000; by 2010 it was £11m. I think it’s incredible that the Stoke on Trent pottery industry is rising again and I very much plan to be part of the future. I don’t think we need to make everything abroad. I read English at London University and my dad was publisher who had been building his business and took it public whilst I was at college. If I hadn’t done this I had thought I might go into publishing – I wanted to be a literary agent. After university I worked for two girls doing knitwear, who were having a blast, with little pain who had huge success. I was in New York in the early ’80′s selling into high end fashion retailers. One of their designs, a red jersey, was worn by Diana Spencer on the announcement of her engagement to Prince Charles. Overnight we went from selling 40 to 100 pieces a week. In the summer of 1984 I came up to Stoke and set up in business a year later. I had the ‘kerching moment’ when I was looking for a present for my mum’s very nice kitchen in Oxford. I stood in a china shop and there was nothing there that I wanted to buy her. The nearest was some Portmeirion, but that was more like the sort of thing my great aunt had on her mantelpiece and just a little dated! In my head I could see what I wanted but there was nothing like it for sale. So when I arrived up here I wanted to hook up with someone who could make my ideas a reality. I found a mentor who had a workshop and he let me experiment with 3 or 4 of my own shapes and gave me the chance to learn how things were made. Within a few years I had acquired manufacturing facilities and before long we had expanded into our current factory on the Caldon canal which I run with my husband Matt.”


Graham Vick

Graham VickGraham Vick is established as one of the world’s leading opera directors. He is Artistic Director of the Birmingham Opera Company he has received an honorary doctoral degree from Birmingham City University in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the Arts in the city in 2012. He works in many of the world’s most prominent opera houses in collaboration with many leading conductors, including La Scala with Muti, The Met with James Levine, the Royal Opera House with Bernard Haitink, Munich with Mehta, Paris with Conlon and Chicago with Andrew Davis. Throughout his career Graham has created projects designed to reach new audiences. It all started in his early 20s at Scottish Opera when he founded a small touring company with funds from a government job creation scheme to take opera to remote communities in the Highlands and Islands. In the 1980s he worked with a group of 300 unemployed young people on Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story in an abandoned mill in Yorkshire and in 1987 he came to Birmingham and founded this company with help from Birmingham City Council and Arts Council England. Graham views his work in Birmingham as entirely complementary to his international directing career and is adamant that excellence and accessibility are not at odds.His pioneering work in Birmingham has attracted the attention of people and companies world-wide. Although a small operation, Birmingham Opera Company is now seen to be at the forefront of the modernisation of opera and a pioneer in its development as a 21st century art form.is many awards include four times receiving the PremioAbbiati from Italian music critics and the South Bank Show Award for Opera in both 1999 and 2002. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2009 Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Ian Callum RDI

Ian Callum RDIIan Callum, RDI, Director of Design, Jaguar Cars and founder Chairman IDEA Birmingham has recognised that innovative cultures and approaches drive results.
Ian’s formula for success involved taking decisions and acting with conviction; daring to take on new challenges – even those that you feel may be somewhat beyond you; constantly listening and learning. The following words were spoken by Ian on receiving his Honorary Doctorate from Birmingham City University in 2012.
“I joined Ford in 1978 where I started designing door mirrors on transits and steering wheels. I thought to myself surely this is not it. I was frustrated and bored, until one day I realised that the mirrors I was designing were not that good. Don’t let your ego get in the way of tasks, no matter how small they may be. If you can do them well you can make a difference.”
Speaking about the importance of promoting design excellence in the Midlands Ian stated: “Jaguar has a thriving design presence in the Midlands – the results of which are represented globally in the form of the XK, XF and XJ and in pioneering concept cars such as the C-X16 and C-X75. I’m proud to be able to play a part in inspiring the next generation of creative talent in the Midlands.”
He has stressed how we need to keep challenging what we do. Describing his move to the creative design consultancy TWR in 1990 after 14 years at Ford, a move that many former colleagues regarded as ‘slightly mad’, Ian said, “I had a dream about designing cars I believed in. Vision is all, let it drive you, it is so powerful.
“I was commissioned to design an Aston Martin, a point at which I had to work at 110% of my capability. I’ll always remember what Colin McRae said of his own winning track record, ‘I drove faster than even I can drive’. We can all do better.”
“It was when I was offered my dream job as Design Director at Jaguar that I wasn’t sure if I could do it. Moving back into corporate life after 10 years as a free spirit at TWR, managing a team, mentoring, and even speaking in public – I was apprehensive of that. But a friend said to me, ‘you have to do this’. So don’t let fear get in the way of ambition. Overcome your demons,” he advised.
“I am in charge now of a dramatic, romantic and fearless brand. Jaguar had lost its way and it was my duty to bring it back.
“Modern cars are complicated, sophisticated objects. Automotive production accounts for two thirds of UK manufacturing turnover and employs 700,000 people. It represents over £1bn investment in R&D.
“The environment and sustainability are our greatest challenges. £150bn will be invested into low carbon products over the next 20 years. And we are already seeing a 24% reduction in CO2 emissions since 2002.
“We are not shying away from these challenges. We understand that problem solving is key to survival. And that there is always something to discover and create. To quote one of my favourite heros, Albert Einstein, “Imagination is much more important than knowledge.”
“My advice is to wrap things up into chapters and make sure the next one you move onto is more compelling than the last.”
Ian’s citation for his Honorary Doctorate noted his pursuit of the ‘cool factor’ and his ultimate commitment to style leading to Ian’s appointment as Director of Design at Jaguar Cars.

It highlighted Ian’s role in the S Type facelift,2004, the design of the X Type Estate and his development of the new generation of XF, XK, XJ and the new CX-75. This has in turn opened up a new market for Jaguar owners, ‘not the tweed wearing Inspector Morse but the cool man about town empitomising the blend of imagination, daring and the practical.’ In 2006 Ian was awarded the Royal Design Industry Award by the RSA.

Lord Jones of Birmingham

Lord Jones of BirminghamDigby Jones was born into business. Some of his earliest memories are of life in a busy corner shop where he lived with his mother and father and older sister. The shop was, he says, “within a spanner throw of the Austin” in Alvechurch just outside Birmingham.

The young Digby showed early promise. He enjoyed his school life and worked hard. Ambitious and full of life he was not averse to the occasional prank, but this cost him dearly a few days before he was due to leave school when he was expelled for “streaking around the quadrangle” for a bet.

Life in the corner shop also made him very aware of community. Where he lived almost everyone relied on “the Austin” in some way. During his three years with the Royal Navy Digby learnt about leadership, teamwork and the importance of constant communication.

His graduation from University College London was followed by 20 years with Edge & Ellison, a Birmingham-based firm of lawyers, where he worked his way up from Articled Clerk to Senior Partner. During these years he was intimately involved in all aspects of business from running the firm “as a business” to recruiting and managing several hundred employees. It was here that he developed a vision of business and its role in society, and began to believe firmly in socially inclusive wealth creation.

In 2000 he joined the CBI and was able to put some of these ideas into action.  During his six and a half years as Director General he became known in the public arena especially for his candid, forthright attitude in his many media appearances.

He campaigned relentlessly on a range of issues including the move from traditional manufacturing of commodities to value-added, innovative products and services. He also lobbied against protectionism protesting that “it is a scourge which may well find short term popularity but inhibits growth, reduces wealth and oppresses the weak”.

In 2005 he was knighted for his services to business and became Sir Digby Jones in the Queen’s New Years Honours List.

When he left the CBI in 2006 he spent the next 12 months in the private sector as advisor to Deloitte and Barclays Capital, held a variety of non-executive board roles, and was the unpaid UK Skills Envoy. In this role he became outraged about the levels of adult illiteracy and innumeracy in the UK, and made the point that we cannot hope to have a safer and healthier society if people lack self-respect or aspiration.

In July 2007 he was appointed Minister of State for UK Trade & Investment and became a life peer taking the title, Digby, Lord Jones of Birmingham Kt. Forthright and, as ever, loyal to British business he spent the next 15 months “doing it in a different way”. He did not join the party of government and without the ambition to progress in politics he concentrated on the business of
promoting Britain across the world, travelling to 31 countries in 45 overseas visits.

Now, in addition to his role as an active crossbencher in the House of Lords he advises numerous companies where design and innovation remain pre-eminent to their competitiveness and central to their efforts to remain leaders in their fields. He is Chairman of the International Business Advisory Board at British Airways, Chairman of Triumph Motorcycles Limited, Senior Advisor to HSBC and is Corporate Ambassador for Jaguar Cars and JCB. He advises in a number of other paid and unpaid roles, fulfilling his vision of promoting socially inclusive wealth creation. Digby travels regularly across the UK and overseas, runs his
own business and his fulfilment is complete when Leicester Tigers and Aston Villa win their matches.

He has been awarded 14 Honorary Doctorates and is a Visiting Professor at the University of Hull Business School and Chairman of the Birmingham Business School International Advisory Board

Marek Reichman

Marek-Reichman-230x225Marek was born in Sheffield, England, in 1966. He graduated from Teeside University in Newcastle with a First Class Honours Degree in Industrial Design and studied Vehicle Design at the Royal College of Art in London. His design experience has made him a regular judge at design awards and lecturer at conferences. In 2008, Marek was invited to take up the position of visiting Professor at the RCA, allowing him the opportunity to give new students an insight into modern automotive design. In 2011, Teesside University bestowed Marek with an honorary Doctorate.

Marek began his design career in 1991 with Rover Cars. In 1995, he moved to BMW Design works in California, to become Senior Designer, and led the overhaul of Land Rover design DNA for future production models most significant of which became the 2003 new Range Rover. He has also been heavily involved with some of the world’s most iconic cars including the Rolls-Royce Phantom, the Lincoln MKX Concept and Navicross Concept Cars.

Marek joined Aston Martin from Ford North America where he held the position of Director of Design for Product, Interior Design Strategy and Process. The five year’s Marek has been Director of Design have been one of the most prolific periods of new model introductions at Aston Martin. These have included the Rapide four-door, high performance coupé of remarkable grace and poise, the DBS which featured in the 22nd James Bond film Quantum of Solace,  more recently the Aston Martin’s One-77 Rapide S, Vanquish V12, Vantage S & Concept car CC100.

His unique design experience has made him a regular judge at design awards, and a lecturer at numerous conferences. (Source Design Council)

Paul Smith

Paul Smith picSir Paul Smith, RDI,dubbed ‘the indisputable don of British fashion’, was born in Beeston, Nottinghamshire in 1946, is a menswear designer and icon. His clothing has been much loved over the years by men all over the world. His womenswear collections, although a later addition to his repertoire, have inspired a feverish loyalty and devotion.

Renowned as a ‘decent bloke’, for his common sense and great style and taste, not to mention his immaculate tailoring, he is known internationally for his clothing collections and accessories, all famously identified by his multi-stripe signature.
On leaving school at 15 Paul Smith wanted to become a racing cyclist, but a terrible accident put paid to those early ambitions. A six month stint in hospital led to the acquisition of a new circle of friends leading to his acquaintance with a group of arts students inspiring him to join their ‘colourful world of ideas and excitement’.

Paul took evening classes in tailoring with Gordon Valentine Tipton in Nottinghamshire where he learnt to cut cloth and the basics. His next move was to Lincroft in Savile Row, having been spotted by the firm’s Chairman, Harold Tilman. In 1969, with the help of client, George Best’s girlfriend, Pauline Denyer, he was able to open his first shop in Nottingham in 1970. By 1976 he had shown his first collection in Paris under the Paul Smith label. He later became the first fashion brand to open on Floral Street in London’s Covent Garden in 1979, from there expanding into the three adjacent stores. A converted townhouse, now his flagship store, was launched in Notting Hill in 1998. That same year he showed his first women’s collection which was to rapidly escalate into an international phenomenon.

Since 2007, Smith has opened stores in Dubai, Bangalore, Leeds, Antwerp, Los Angeles. In September 2010 Smith opened his first standalone womenswear store in Mayfair, London, in addition to a brand new warehouse in Nottingham.
Paul Smith remains fully involved in the business, designing clothes, choosing fabrics, approving the shop locations and overseeing every development within the company. He has showrooms in London, Paris, Milan, New York and Tokyo.
At the moment he is working to design the London Olympics posters and signs.

Professor Jack Cunningham

Prof Jack CunninghamProfessor Jack Cunningham is Head of the School of Jewellery within the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design at Birmingham City University (BCU). Before taking up his post with BCU in 2008, he was formerly Head of Silversmithing & Jewellery at The Glasgow School of Art. The School of Jewellery is the largest of its kind in Europe and Professor Cunningham’s responsibilities also include the unique Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre (JIIC) which provides specialist and technical advice to the jewellery industry and other sectors on design and production. Professor Cunningham’s particular area of specialist knowledge is within the genre of contemporary narrative jewellery. His PhD was practice based, the research title being: Contemporary European Narrative Jewellery: the prevalent themes, paradigms and the cognitive interaction between maker, wearer and viewer observed through the process and production of narrative jewellery. His knowledge of contemporary studio jewellery is based on 3 decades of exhibiting in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally, with accompanying catalogues. Cunningham also curated, and toured, the largest exhibition yet mounted of contemporary European narrative jewellery; Maker-Wearer-Viewer, and organised an international Symposium, chaired by Jivan Astfalck. As Head of the School of Jewellery, he sits on Faculty committees in addition to a number of external advisory and steering groups within the Jewellery Quarter. He is External Examiner at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee, and is Consultant and External Examiner at AIVA, Shanghai, China. Amongst the many awards and grants he has received he has been recognised in 2001 with the Glasgow School of Art Research Award (V&A London; in 2000 – Jerwood Applied Arts Prize 2000 – Jewellery; he was shortlisted as a Nominee;in 1998 for the Glasgow School of Art Research Award (Australia) and in 1997 received the Glasgow School of Art Research Award (Japan).


Professor Jivan Astfalck

Professor Jivan AstfalckJivan Astfalck is a visual artist, jeweller and academic. Born in Berlin, where she was trained as a goldsmith, she has been living in London for more than 20 years. She obtained her MA in the History and Theory of Modern Art at Chelsea College of Art and Design and her PhD in Fine Art at the University of the Arts London. Dr Astfalck is now Professor at the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, Birmingham City University and combines her studio practice, which she exhibits internationally, with teaching as the MA Course Director in Jewellery, Silversmithing and Related Product. Her main focus and research interest is in using hermeneutic philosophy, literary theory and other appropriate thought models as tools to investigate narrative structures embedded in body related crafts objects. In her view, the convergence of crafts, design and fine art practices is conductive to extending the theoretical vocabulary and map out new territories where crafts practices contribute to cultural production and dissemination. Jivan Astfalck’s artistic research activities focus on wearable and decorative objects, which exist outside the margins of a recognised design culture, signified by a continuous dynamic of rediscovery, recycling of meaning and appropriation. These objects resonate with intimacy and passionate investment, rather than a functional design agenda. It is body adornment that exists in stark contrast to the overwhelming standardisation generated by mechanised commodity production, a ‘folk-art’ of our own culture.

The relationship between the finding, collecting and conceptualising of marginalized artefacts and their meaning is explored within the area of metaphorical symbolisation. Jivan is interested in jewellery pieces that map out the demarcation lines, where body meets world, a place, or idea of a place, where narratives are invested in objects with the aim to negotiate that gap, complexity, confusion or conflict in relation to private and subjective mental experience.

There is a correlation between literature and creative activity. The love of reading complicated literature and continental philosophy has over an elongated period of time enabled a pattern to evolve. By isolating ideas and voices verbalised in literature and pitching against other often conflicting ones is like a kaleidoscope. You throw them around and they make a pattern, a new pattern, often more eloquent. These groups of ideas over time became her thesis.

Professor John Butler

Prof John ButlerProfessor John Butler is Head of Birmingham School of Art within Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (BIAD), Birmingham City University (BCU), UK. As Head of School, a major driver has been to expand the role and position of the School within the societies and communities it operates within locally, nationally and internationally. Internationally he has been a Board and Executive member of the European League of Institutes of the Arts (ELIA) from 1994, becoming President between 2000 and 2004; representing European arts education worldwide. He has since advised European Ministers of the Education on the implementation of the Bologna Agreement for higher arts education, co-writing 3 position papers for the Visual Arts in Europe. He was recognised for his contribution to European Higher Arts Education with a Doctorate by the University of Art & Design Cluj-Napoca, Rumania in 2004 and an Honorary Doctorate by the Plymouth University in 2007.
As an artist he has exhibited and curated numerous exhibitions in Belgium, Norway, Germany and USA as well as in the UK. He has been responsible for initiating and establishing two nationally renowned independent artist-led galleries; in 1978 Spacex (gallery and studios) in Exeter and more recently Eastside Projects in 2007 in Birmingham.
It was in 1974 that Professor Butler joined the then Exeter College of Art and Design (later to become the Faculty of Arts in the University of Plymouth) and even then, as a young artist, his reputation was growing. In 1976 he set up the artists studios at Spacex, helping it through its evolution from an artist-led gallery to its current role as a visual arts venue, recognised internationally for its diverse and cutting edge programme.

It is Professor Butler’s desire to enhance student learning for which he is also well known and an enthusiasm for cross-cultural learning led him to link Exeter with an international Erasmus exchange programme. As a result, he found himself co-ordinating a large European Arts Network that enriched the lives of countless students and staff, not only in Exeter, but across many countries in Europe.

Widely regarded as an inspiration to students, his commitment to the quality of the learning experience resulted in pioneering international field trips, master classes and interdisciplinary workshops. He was also President of the European League of Institutes of Arts between 2000 and 2004 and worked with arts universities and colleges across Europe on policy, cultural agreements and conferences. In 2003 he took up the post of Professor of Art and Head of Department at Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, where he completed his own MA in Fine Art in 1973.

Part of his citation when presented with an honorary doctorate read: “John has a penchant for making things happen for other people and there are many artists, researchers, arts educators and past students who owe a debt of gratitude to John for his generosity of spirit in creating so many professional and learning opportunities for them.”

Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya

Lord KumarProfessor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, Chairman and founder of WMG, has lived and worked in the UK since the 1960s when he arrived from India. During this time his impact on industry, education and government has been unmistakable. Through his passionate and dedicated focus on the importance of manufacturing to our economy, his contribution has been on driving continuous innovation, product re-design and rapid integration of value adding technologies within our leading businesses. In education he has built the multi-million pound Warwick Manufacturing Group – WMG at the University of Warwick reputedly turning over more than £120m annually and renowned for its expertise in areas including production technologies, best practices and digital systems. The WMG model took managers on secondment from major industrial companies and subject all their assumptions to rigorous examination. It has built many close relationships with industry by applying practical value adding solutions in all that it does. ‘It is technology that makes a nation competitive,’ said Professor Bhattacharyya in an interview in the Oberserver in 2005. ‘Why is America more productive than the UK? The trigger is viable technology; the way they use information technology and integrate it rapidly.’ Speaking about the WMG model Professor Bhattacharyya commented on how Rolls Royce turned itself around by backing its own ability to build a new generation of aero-engines in the late Eighties and early Nineties – the Trent series, developed under engineer Phil Ruffles, who himself took advice from Bhattacharyya. Rolls is now number two in the world. ‘They have great R&D,’ says Bhattacharyya. But his simple model holds. ‘Rolls spent a lot of effort on designing new products and gaining a competitive edge.’
The problem that needed to be addressed in 1970s Britain when the Professor was moving towards establishing WMG was clear. ‘The relationship between industry and academia had polarised,’ said Bhattacharyya in 2005. ‘Very few graduates went into manufacturing. Graduates that went into industry went into research and development’ – unlike in Germany and Japan, where they entered all areas of industry. Bhattacharyya has referred to his prescription as generating ‘intellectual capacity’, the kind of intangible thing that goes down on the balance sheet as ‘goodwill’ but which had traditionally not accounted for much in heavy industry. His ability to wield political influence has continued since the ‘80s when he worked closely with Keith Joseph, architect of much Thatcherite industrial reform. Later he become a sounding board for Patricia Hewitt, the Trade and Industry Secretary continuing to provide advice to the Blair administration. He was awarded a knighthood in 2003 for services to higher education and industry and was elevated to the Lords in 2004. In July 2011 the American Society of Manufacturing Engineers awarded him an Honorary Membership Award. This award is one of the most prestigious honours presented by the society and is reserved for those exhibiting professional eminence among manufacturing engineers. He is the only person from outside of the USA to receive the award in the last ten years.

Stella McCartney

Stella McCartneyStella McCartney has made a huge contribution as a fashion designer with a social conscience — at a record-breaking pace. She graduated from Central St Martins in 1995 when her star quality as an emerging fashion designer of note was instantly spotted. After showing her first two collections she was appointed the Creative Director of Chloe in Paris in 1997. Stella reputedly became interested in designing clothes at age thirteen, when she made her first jacket. By 15 she had interned for Christian Lacroix, working on his first fashion design collection, later honing her skills working for Edward Sexton, her father’s Savile Row tailor for a number of years. She studied her foundation at Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication, fashion design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in the early 1990s. Her graduation collection in 1995 made front-page news, and the entire collection was sold to Tokio, a London boutique. The designs were licensed to Browns, Joseph, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. In March 1997 she was appointed Creative Director of Paris fashion house Chloé, following in the footsteps of Karl Lagerfeld where her designs enjoyed considerable commercial and critical success. In 2001, Stella launched her own fashion house under her name in a joint venture with Gucci Group (now the PPR Luxury Group) and showed her first collection in Paris. Stella McCartney now operates 17 freestanding stores in locations including Manhattan’s Soho, London’s Mayfair, LA’s West Hollywood, Paris’ Palais Royal and Milan, and recently opened doors in Rome and Miami. Her collections are distributed in over 50 countries through 600 wholesale accounts including specialty shops and department stores. In 2003, Stella launched her perfume “Stella.” Her achievements in fashion and her strong social awareness have been recognised in the numerous awards presented: the VH1/Vogue Designer of the Year award in 2000; the Woman of Courage Award for work against cancer (2003, LA); the Glamour Award for Best Designer of the Year (2004, London); the Star Honoree at the Fashion Group International Night of the Stars (2004, NY); the Organic Style Woman of the Year Award (2005, NY); the Elle Style Award for Best Designer of the Year Award (2007, London); Best Designer of The Year at the British Style Awards (2007, London); Best Designer of The Year at the Spanish Elle Awards (2008, Barcelona); the Green Designer of the Year at the ACE Awards (2008, NY) and in 2009 she was honoured by the NRDC, featured in the Time 100 and recognized as a Glamour magazine Woman of the Year. Most recently in November 2011 she was presented with the Red Carpet Award by the British Fashion Council. In January 2007, McCartney launched a 100% organic skincare line called CARE. In 2008, a new lingerie line was launched. In November 2010, the Stella McCartney Kids collection was launched – catering for newborns and children up to the age of 12.
She also launched a joint-venture line with Adidas, establishing a long-term partnership in 2004. This line is a sports performance collection for women, “adidas by Stella McCartney,” which has since successfully grown to include several athletic disciplines including running, gym, yoga, tennis, swimming, golf, winter sports and triathlon. In September 2010, Stella was appointed Team GB’s Creative Director for the 2012 Olympics by adidas – the first time in the history of the games that a leading fashion designer has designed the apparel for a country’s team across all competitions for both the Olympic and the Paralympic Games. Stella’s family home is in rural Worcestershire – a welcome retreat for both her and her husband, designer, Alasdhair Willis and their four children – Miller, (2005) Bailey (2006), Beckett (2008) and Reiley (2010).


Steve Harper

Steve HarperStephen Harper (designer) Birmingham, United Kingdom, is a designer, who works primarily in the automotive industry. He is responsible for a huge number of cars including the MG F, Ford Escort RS Cosworth, and the 2010 Volvo C70. Founding design education took place at the Royal College of Art in London in 1979-1980 following earning an apprenticeship to the Austin Motor Company (a part of British Leyland) in Longbridge, Birmingham in 1978. In his early days at Austin Rover Stephen worked on the Austin Montego, Rover 800 as well as a large number of unreleased cars, working at the Canley Studios in Coventry. Stephen then moved to Volvo BV in the Netherlands to help with the Volvo 480 and Volvo 440 before returning to the UK to work for MGA. It was here that Stephen became involved with Rover Special products, creating the initial design for the MGF as well as a number of other niche Rovers that weren’t released. From there, Stephen worked on various projects in the UK before returning to Volvo (this time in Sweden) in 2000, when he became hugely influential in the creation of Volvo’s post-millennial re-definition of the brand, having designed a string of cars for the company. Returned to the UK in 2007, where he once again set up SHADO Ltd (SHADO is the acronym of “Steve Harper Art & Design Organisation”) as a Design Consultancy,as Managing Director, this time in Paignton in Devon.

Susan Williams-Ellis

susan Williams-EllisPortmeirion was founded in 1960 by the legendary pottery designer Susan Williams-Ellis and her husband Euan Cooper-Willis. Susan sadly passed away in November 2007 but her philosophy of creating collections that are not only beautiful but also functional and affordable lives on at Portmeirion.

Always at the forefront of contemporary design, Susan Williams-Ellis was renowned for her originality in both design and manufacturing techniques. This has led to her enviable reputation for producing striking shape and pattern designs that were trend setting and had worldwide appeal – designs that are now seen as iconic.

Susan was born on the 6th June 1918 to Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, the architect and creator of Portmeirion Village in North Wales, and his wife Amabel.

Susan’s life was spent socialising with and being taught by creative talents such as Bernard and David Leach, Henry Moore and Graham Sutherland and, keeping such high company, her innate feeling for shape, form and pattern flourished.

The opportunity to use those skills came along when her father asked her to create some ceramic gifts for the shop at Portmeirion Village.

Following the success and increasing demand for this pottery, in 1960 Susan and Euan purchased A. E. Gray Ltd, a small pottery decorating company based in Stoke-on-Trent.

(For more information about A E Grays Pottery please visit www.grayspottery.co.uk).

This was followed by the purchase of a second pottery company, Kirkhams Ltd, that had the capacity to not only decorate the pottery but also make it. This allowed Susan to design both shape and surface pattern which, in the 1960s, was considered quite unique. These two businesses were combined and Portmeirion Potteries was born. In fact, Portmeirion Potteries continues to manufacture Susan’s designs as well as others in the same factory in Stoke-on-Trent to this very day.

Susan’s early Portmeirion designs include Malachite (1960) and Moss Agate (1961). Neither was produced in large quantities but both received high critical acclaim. Her next designs featured unusually bright, floral images (Portmeirion Rose and Tiger Lily), and then followed the iconic Totem design in 1963.

With layered glazes of various hues, Totem brought Portmeirion well and truly to the forefront of fashionable design in this memorable era of evolving and revolutionary British design style. Its bold, abstract pattern of embossed spirals and stars, coupled with striking cylindrical drum-like shapes of the coffee pots, cups and saucers, cream jugs and sugar bowls, resulted in a unique
collection that was beautiful, tactile and practical.

With an ever-evolving reputation for striking design, Susan later created Magic City (1966) and Magic Garden (1970) which both featured strong and bold surface patterns. Susan’s original prototype for Magic Garden was found in the cellar of Bank House (Susan and Euan’s home that was attached to the factory).

The design had been directly pencilled onto a cylindrical coffee pot and was simply stunning – so much so it inspired Portmeirion to create the Magic Garden Graphite collection in celebration of its 50th anniversary in 2010.

The 1970′s saw the birth of what is considered by many to be Portmeirion’s most recognised design, Botanic Garden. Launched in 1972, Botanic Garden was uniquely different – inspired by a serendipitous find of antique botanical books, and with a variety of individual floral decorations, it encapsulated the new mood for casual dining, dispensing with the old formalities and bringing a
new design philosophy to the market place. It became an instant success and has become a classic of British design and hailed as the world’s most popular casual tableware design.

Recognising the expertise of the area, the earthenware continues to be made at Portmeirion’s factory in Stoke-on-Trent and has amassed a worldwide following and an ardent fan base.

Click here for More about Botanic Garden

Susan always expected her pottery designs to fit comfortably with everyday life – today a requirement of every contemporary consumer – and, in her quest for success, she was heavily involved in the manufacture of all her designs. Such involvement and devotion to the quality of the design and production of the product was rare, and when combined with Susan’s individual style and creativity, became unique.

In 2005 Susan received an honorary fellowship from University of Arts, London.  At the time Susan said “I decided to pursue pottery, rather than painting, mainly because I wanted to create affordable and beautiful things. Being in Stoke has been a wonderful part of my life. The people of Stoke are really the nicest people one could ever meet, and their hard work has established Portmeirion and enabled us to sell our pots around the world. I have been very fortunate.”

Keele University also awarded her an Honorary Degree of Master of the University for an Outstanding Contribution to the Ceramics Industry Internationally.

With nearly fifty years of creativity, Susan Williams Ellis’s contribution to British design style, Portmeirion Potteries and the British ceramics industry has been immeasurable, and places her firmly in the company of a small group of great and celebrated 20th Century ceramic designers. Her philosophy that tableware should be both beautiful and practical will continue to permeate
Portmeirion’s design values and to determine the success of the company that she created in the challenges of the 21st century.