Ben Barnard

If they were to make a toy action figure of you, what would your accessory be?
In real life my drawing pencil is almost permanently in my hand so this would be obvious, even if I’m just taking notes. But if were talking superheroes, I’m going to have 2 accessories because no one said I couldn’t! First is the Om symbol which puts people into deep meditation at a single touch because that would help so many people! Second would be a chefs knife, because I think food brings people together really well and helps heal, its one of the ways my mum expressed her love so I cook with a lot of love, and that translates into the food.

To what degree have you actually controlled the course your design life has taken?
Completely and non at all.
I only take jobs that excite me and are in design led businesses (or my own) but equally you never know how other people are steering your job in the background.
After all our successes and failures are ultimately all down to us.

What’s something you know you do differently than most people?
Paul, I’m not normal , you know that, name one thing I do that anyone would consider normal? I’ve come to embrace my weirdo introvert nature as a strength.
Do my belt up left to right.
Start conversation halfway through my thought process as if you were present for the entire conversation in my head (weirdly my wife does this as well).
Watch films, except I don’t watch them, I’m in them, totally absorbed. I don’t need 3D glasses, I’m in deep already. Turns out that’s normal for introverts

What product or event inspired you to be a designer?
Neither, my father was a designer and cabinet maker so I naturally followed his processes, he is to date the most creative person I’ve ever known verging on genius/insane.
I got brought up believing creative and sometimes lateral problem solving was normal and helping people through this skill was normal. Turns out that’s not normal. (see above question).

If you could become the designer of any existing item, what would you choose?
Of an item that already exists? Then the lounge chair by Hans J Wagner or the butterfly stool for sheer beauty of form.
Of something that has made someone wealthy - Post-it notes.
Of something that’s changes the world for the better - Amazon.
Of something that doesn’t already exist- something that helps bring peace, healing and genuine connectivity back to people – so my magic meditation wand and cooking maybe!

If you could go back in time and speak to your adolescent self, what advice would you give them about the design world?
Network 200% more, the design world is mega clique.
Learn and become fluent in any drawing package from Day 1.
Relax it takes time and all the best things usually do, play a long game you’ve got time and maybe focus on something that’s going to help the most amount of people, not just because then you have a mass market product and potential to secure wealth, but also because helping others would heal the world rather than todays focus of getting one up on the next person.
And network more, did I mention that?
Embrace your inner weirdness, it makes you unique and your more likely to make a difference being 100% you than trying to fit in, no one fitting in ever changed the world.
With the above in mind - have more confidence in yourself and what you have to offer.
And network more.