Sainsbury's Design Studio 1962-1977

I am an avid collector of design books and on a recent trip back to the UK, I stumbled across a fantastic book containing a veritable gold mine of vintage Sainsbury’s packaging, chronicling the years 1962 to 1977.

The books forward tells the story of the author, Jonny Trunk and his search for a particular 1970 Sainsbury’s pack design for cornflakes that he had memories of from his childhood. On calling the retailers head office, he discovers that there’s a huge archive of pristine Sainsbury’s own label packaging dating back from the 1960’s and onwards. An ideal subject for a book!

There is also an essay from Emily King, which gives an insight into the relationship between the company director, forward thinking JD Sainsbury and the visionary designer Peter Dixon who founded the Sainsbury’s in house creative studio and spearheaded it’s unique pack designs.


Also of note is the important role that the company played in society. Britain was going through a period of social change in the 1960’s/70’s and the supermarket evolved with its costumers. This including working mothers who strived for quick, convenient meals to fit with their busy lives and those who had just taken their first foreign holidays and wanted more exotic ingredients. Although my family didn’t travel overseas whilst I was growing up (our holidays were in North Devon), I can still fondly remember the introduction from meat and two veg, to Indian curries and Italian spaghetti bolognese. With its use of san serif typography, bold colour and form, the packaging design represented modernity within this time of great social and economic change.

Being born in Britain in the early seventies, I had huge waves of nostalgia looking through the pages and remembering some of the distinctive designs. These works really did become the fabric of daily life in Britain. The design for the coke tin, using the company logo on a slant to represent a straw would never get through the rigid rules and guidelines set out by the brand experts of today, but somehow gives so much character and identity to the design. These days, some may see naivety from a time gone by, yet others (like me) will appreciate its concept! JD Sainsbury wasn’t always keen on the slanting of the company logo but this further emphasises the full backing that he gave to designer Peter Dixon. The book also recalls how teachers would cut out the orange discs from the cornflakes packs to represent coins whilst teaching school children about money!


This gem of a book currently sits in pride of place at my design studio. After being based in Cape Town for over half a decade it feels like a fantastic snap shot of design and of a changing society in a country and time for which I was born and raised. A time long before the invention of the Apple Mac and Adobe software it shows how concept rules over tools and technology! I can’t recommend this book enough.

The book is written by Jonny Trunk and published by Fuel:
Article originally published by Todd Anderson at The Design Life


Brexit: Business Leaders Reaction to Result


On Friday 24th of June 2016, Britain woke to the realisation that the majority (52%) had voted to leave the EU. The shock waves that followed have dominated the news. David Cameron has made the decision to step down as Prime Minister and the pound is currently at a 31-year low, making England poorer than France. The FTSE 100 has dropped 8.7pc and ratings agency S&P have downgraded UK's credit rating from AAA to AA, due to the negative outlook after the Brexit vote. Labour's shadow cabinet members are also quitting in response to Jeremy Corbyn's leadership over the EU referendum!

Analyst are predicting that many investors are likely to move their money out of the UK and for the people of Great Britain it may mean that European travel and imported products could well rise in cost. In addition Scotland has voted to remain and many of it’s population would sooner break away from the UK instead of leaving the EU.

Britain as a whole is divided. For many the country is in turmoil whilst other's celebrate the result as a victory for democracy.

Leading up to the vote, Sir Richard Branson commented that Brexit would be ‘the worst decision Britain could ever make.’ Following the result, on the 25th June, the IBT times listed the reactions of many top business leaders, including that of Sir Richard Branson, Jes Staley and Paul Polman, which you can read below. It make's for very interesting reading.

Sir Richard Branson, founder, Virgin

"None of this [leaving the EU] will happen overnight, and the UK will face a multitude of complex negotiations and difficult choices over the coming years. This decision will create volatility and will threaten much of the good work delivered by the EU over the last 40 years. Nevertheless, we must all accept and respect the majority vote."

Jes Staley, chief executive at Barclays

"This is a significant decision and there will be many questions asked in the coming days and weeks about what happens next. The answers are complex but our position is not - we will not break our stride in delivering the Barclays of the future."

"We have stood in service of our customers and clients for over 325 years. We have been here for them through equally profound changes before. And no matter what has been laid before us, we have been here to help them achieve their ambitions.

Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive, WPP

"I am very disappointed, but the electorate has spoken. The resulting uncertainty, which will be considerable, will obviously slow decision-making and deter activity. This is not good news, to say the least.

Paul Polman, chief executive, Unilever

"The most important thing to have long term prosperity is to accept the will of the people and respect democracy. Now we all need to unite."

Sebastian James, chief executive, Dixons Carphone

"Feel strange and unsettling following the vote but we are the same, our company is the same, and our job is the same."

Ian Shepherd, chief commercial officer, Odeon & UCI Cinemas

"Genuinely can't believe it. Have spent the week with colleagues from around the world who were rooting for the UK to come to its senses."

Carolyn McCall, chief executive, easyJet

"We remain confident in the strength of easyJet's business model and our ability to continue to deliver our successful strategy and our leading returns.

"We have today written to the UK government and the European commission to ask them to prioritise the UK remaining part of the single EU aviation market, given its importance"

Douglas Flint, group chairman, HSBC

"We are today entering a new era for Britain and British business. The work to establish fresh terms of trade with our European and global partners will be complex and time-consuming. We will be working tirelessly in the coming weeks and months to help our customers adjust to and prepare for the new environment."

Gareth Stace, director of UK Steel

"The decision to leave the European Union will send shockwaves across the UK's steel industry. Our sector is well versed in having challenges thrust upon it, but it's clear that this is like no other.

It is now more essential than ever to create the right business conditions in the UK that allow the steel industry to survive, invest and thrive. This will ensure that our vital supply chains, such as defence, automotive and construction, can rely on the production of steel in the UK so we are self-sufficient and can never be left at the mercy of others."

Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive, Goldman Sachs

"We respect the decision of the British electorate and have been focused on planning for either referendum outcome for many months.

"Goldman Sachs has a long history of adapting to change, and we will work with relevant authorities as the terms of the exit become clear. Our primary focus, as always, remains serving our clients' needs."

Anthony Bamford, chairman and managing director, JCB

"European markets are important to many UK businesses, including JCB, and this will not change. We should look ahead to opportunities to trade more freely with the rest of the world, as well as building on existing trading relationships with customers and suppliers in Europe… The UK is the world's fifth largest trading nation. We therefore have little to fear from leaving the EU."


The Most Important Word You Use Is Why

"The most important word you use is why!" 

That’s was what Sir John Hegarty told the crowd at an inspiring presentation that I was lucky enough to attend back in 2013.

In my role as creative director, I get to brief in the design team. It's important to ensure that everything that goes through the studio is the best it can be. I have to mentor and up skill young designers and I always love to watch how they respond to briefs. Many designers sketch out ideas, others go straight to their computers. Without a doubt, Google is one of the most incredible inventions of our time, yet still, one of my pet hates are designers going straight to Google without an idea. I've been known to not let designers on a computer until I first see an idea.

I want designers to have that moment of discovery and to have the ability to ask why. Recently one of my team was struggling with a project. I could see it in her face... The fear... And on her computer... Google!!!

After a brief discussion regarding a couple of the finer points of the project, I asked her to look out of the window. I asked why are those power boxes across the road painted grey? The bushes that surrounded them were green and I couldn't help to notice the stark contrast. My team often has the tendency to look at me like I'm crazy. I mentioned that everyday we simply take all around us for granted. We look but we don't really see. I told her to do this with the project. I needed her to ask why? Our roles as designers are to get to the core of the task and to find a simple answer and to never offer the obvious. Asking why and seeing differently is what makes us designers. Testimony to this was when I returned back to her desk an hour later to find the most incredible, intellectual and different work... Neither of us knew why those bloody power boxes were painted grey though!


My Copy of Graphis Diagrams

In 1974 Walter Herdeg edited issue 165 of Graphis Diagrams, a square hardback book showing the scientific side of graphic design. It contains beautifully illustrated, full colour diagrams of abstract data and theres also some lovely multi layered maps that use transparent papers. The cover is a fantastic example of the modernist Swiss style of type and design. It really is a thing of beauty, an iconic classic and I once had a copy, or should I say, I may still have a copy... Somewhere! It wasn't that I forgot I had it, but instead that I was recently reminded when I turned to page 46 of Steven Heller and Veronique Vienne's fantastic book '100 Ideas That Changed Graphic Design', and there it was in all it's glory, featuring in the chapter 'The Square Format!

I am not completely sure of how this book came into my life. My father was always great at picking up a bargain and may of bought it second hand for his son. My family always supported my love of everything creative. I may of even been given it, or did I buy it myself around the time I was at college. I just think that I would remember buying such a beautiful specimen of design!

To where it currently resides is a complete mystery to me. I have been living overseas for many years and my things are scattered in different countries, half way around the world from each other. There are probably five places where this book could potentially be and I just want it back in my life. I even did a quick search to see if I could pick up a bargain copy, but it's changing hands for hundreds of pounds (UK) these days. Im not surprised, its worth it! It just shows that you really don't know what you have until it's gone. I will hopefully someday add an addition to this post where me and my copy of Graphis Diagrams are reunited.