Where do you find design inspiration?

In the first post of a new column here on the Conran blog looking at where we find design inspiration, Will Unwin, a product designer from Studio Conran, tells us more about the mysterious and beautiful place he finds his…


In the creative industry it is only a matter of time before we experience what I like to call ‘a dry spell’. Of course I am talking about those little ideas that eventually end up allowing good design to be exactly that: good design!

This begs the question, where can we get design inspiration? Some people may get it by looking at that object in their home from a different angle, some people might get it from talking to their friends, or maybe it just hits you while you’re on the tube. Whatever your method, can I suggest a new one?

Before returning to work at Conran in August this year, I spent the previous 5 months exploring South America. Since then I have come to the conclusion that my inspiration cannot be found on the underground, but instead lies in a far away land. The land I am talking about in particular is Antarctica.

After making the biggest impulse reaction of my life, I blew the majority of my hard earned savings on a boat trip across the Drake Passage to the unknown continent at the bottom of our planet. I was not prepared for what I saw.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to a place that provides you with such a diverse range of ideas and inspiration. It’s a place that puts you in the perfect mindset for work. Hopefully some of the below images will help you understand what I mean.

I saw icebergs in shapes I did not know were physically possible; I saw colours I was not aware even existed; I saw combinations of forms that I didn’t think would complement one another- all of which can be used to influence design directly. If any of you budding architects out there are looking for a new form to compete with the soon-to-be-complete London Shard, Antarctica is your place

The landscape is simply stunning. It does things to you like nothing else can. It can relax you or it can energise you. It can calm you as easily as it can excite you. The effects too are long lasting; it’s easy for me to slip away into my memories and when I return I feel somewhat enlightened, ready to attack another design problem.

Speaking of design problems, I think I’ve worked out a design for next winter’s coat collection…

Where do you find your design inspiration?

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2 Comments

Filed under STUDIO CONRAN, Where do you find design inspiration?

2 responses to “Where do you find design inspiration?

  1. emma booty

    Beautiful architecture…
    …how is the ‘tourism’ managed? is it truly respectful, tiny impact?

    • The tourism side of things is heavily protected by the IAATO (International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators). All boats and tour companies have to adhere by very strict guidelines. Failure to do so means operators lose their license without so much as an appeal. All the boats have to pass emissions test and are checked before every voyage for leaks, etc to ensure that contamination is not possible. It is such a sensitive environment that the slightest change can have a huge impact on the wildlife.

      As for the passengers the checks are just as severe. Before leaving the mainland every passenger is vacuumed down along with their luggage to ensure that no alien species (plants and fauna) are taken to the continent. Before leaving the boat every time passengers pass through a chemical bath to ensure that dirt from the boats is not deposited on the mainland. This is also done to prevent the spread of penguin guano from one colony to another.

      The sad truth is however that this does very little to save the continent. The bulk of the damage is done by us with our daily contributions to global warming!

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