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Meet the Judges 2018 - Chris Vernall

Chris co-founded furniture and lighting brand Vitamin and award-winning design consultancy V2 Studios with his brother Andy. With a career spanning 25 years Chris has excelled in a diverse portfolio of fields including interior design, product, automotive, furniture and lighting, strategy, technology, marketing and toys. As one of the foremost product designers in the UK, Chris designs and creates his own ranges of lighting and furniture and also works for some of the leading brands across the world including LG, Virgin Atlantic, The Tate, Heals, Speedo, Lego, Clarks, Hasbro and Panasonic.

Chris will be on the Colour in Design Award judging panel for New Designers Part 2 2018

What role does colour play in your life/work?

Colour plays an incredibly important role in both my work and home life. The psychological effects of colour and its ability to engage with people and enhance interaction is a critical element in my product design. In contrast, when it comes to the design of spaces, furniture and lighting. The ability of colour to define a mood and style is essential. I am lucky that this vast scope of work allows me to use and experiment with colour in so many different and exciting ways.

Highest creative point in the past year?

Last year we partnered with charity start-up GoodBox and are proud to be part of their phenomenal success. We helped test the product with museums such as Tate Modern and the Natural History Museum, and played our part in securing crowdfunded investment to take the product into production and to market. It was such an exciting, whirlwind year with a company that is going to make a big difference to so many charities.

Hardest creative lesson learnt when you were starting out?

Creating something genuinely new comes with a multitude of challenges, from manufacturing issues, long lead times to unpredictable quality control. When I started out this came as a big shock, I had no idea how long it could take to develop an idea properly. The reality is if it was easy someone would have done it already. So my lesson is it is essential to be tenacious, believe in yourself and your idea, and be aware that the best designs don’t happen overnight.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Of all the projects I have worked on no two have ever been the same, and that’s exactly the way I like it. We have always sought real variety in our clients and projects and that keeps me excited and coming back for more. A new challenge every day, and the push to always do better is what I love.

Was there one person who made a difference to your career path when you were starting out? Who was it and what did they do/say?

When I started out in design I freelanced at a few consultancies that were ruled by fear, hierarchy and ego. It was not the sort of place I wanted to be. Then I started work for Christa Dekker and Servaes Spiekermann at their studio in Amsterdam. They had created an open, friendly, nurturing atmosphere and had a great relationship with both their staff and clients. They produced great work whilst having great fun. This had a profound impact on me and it is how we work today in our consultancy. Be nice, be respectful and only work with people and clients you genuinely like.

Creative goal?

One third for good. Like many designers I have a strong belief that design should be used as a force for good to create positive change. Over the past few years I have become more involved in investing into design projects that help to tackle both environmental and humanitarian issues. These include packaging that helps the reduction of food waste, several solutions for the water crisis, tap-to-give payment solutions for charities, devices and systems for addiction, educational tools and wellbeing solutions. It is my creative goal to invest at least one third of my time into tackling global issues with the hope of helping to make a small difference.

Favourite colour – why?

Orange has been my favourite colour since I was a child, I find the colour really energising. It’s a colour that has stayed with me throughout the decades, from neon in the 80s, to a bit more yolky, then to the burnt orange, 021C, and then onto the corals. It’s a colour that keeps giving.

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