How did you get into design?

In lasts weeks post, the second in our series, we learnt about the key people who influenced the careers of BroomeJenkins Senior Designer Julian Evens and Morgan Design Manager Erin Johnson. Eleanor Cardwell, PR & Marketing Manager at Newmor Wallcoverings, showed us how an education in fine art can provide a base for a creative career leading into a marketing and PR position.

This week we meet three designers, each at very different stages of their careers. Amy Pears, Designer at Johnson Tiles, graduated in 2009 and is already enjoying the challenges of designing for the UK’s leading tile manufacturer, Johnson Tiles.  Fiona Davidson, a freelance designer and senior lecturer, is able to take her career experience and assist design students at the very start of their journey.  Jonathan Hindle, KI’s Group Managing Director, has over 30 years industry experience and in 2008 founded the Design Guild Mark.

Amy Pears: Designer at Johnson Tiles

Amy Pears amend

My passion for art and design began at a very early age, blossoming at secondary school through to college, and later developing at Staffordshire University where I graduated with a degree in Surface Pattern.

In 2009, I had the unique opportunity to exhibit at New Designers, which was an invaluable experience and a fantastic platform to showcase my portfolio. It resulted in freelance work with various greeting card companies, which helped to raise my profile and attract the attention of Johnson Tiles, who appointed me in 2010.

Since becoming part of the tile manufacturer’s Design Team, I’ve enjoyed the most exciting challenges and experiences, gaining valuable knowledge to become the designer I am today.

From initial research and planning to designing and marketing our increasing range of trend-led products, my role at Johnson Tiles is varied, which keeps me on my toes and helps to further develop my skills.

I feel so honoured to be part of a heritage manufacturer that is leading the way in international tile design, right here in the heart of the Potteries in Stoke-on-Trent.

Contact Johnson Tiles

Fiona Davidson: Freelance Designer & Senior Lecturer


My engineer father was something of a low-tech mechanical genius, and our home was an homage, in true Heath Robinson style, to the post war ethos of make do and mend. In hindsight, this unwitting exposure to innovative problem-solving from such an early age, undoubtedly had a huge influence on me. What strikes me now is how appropriately he exploited materials or existing objects, with a delicious lack of preciousness in his pursuit of functional solutions to everyday problems.

A spell as workshop assistant to a local designer maker gave me my first conscious exposure to furniture design. This inspired my decision to study the subject at degree level.

My degree show work attracted much press interest, prompting me, somewhat naively, to launch my own design business. Design for me is about functional problem-solving in relation to human need; a form of constructive criticism.

Working part-time as a tutor appealed as a means of securing a relatively reliable form of income, whilst allowing me the freedom to pursue my own design journey.

Tutoring is a symbiotic process; we listen, advise, question and challenge, and our own ideas are constantly questioned and challenged in return. Without doubt, I am a better designer for my experience of being a tutor, and likewise, I am a better tutor for my experience as a designer. The two feed each other.

Contact Fiona Davidson 

Jonathan M. Hindle, FCSD: Group Managing Director, KI EMEA

Jonathan Hindle amend

Jonathan has been KI’s Group Managing Director, EMEA since founding the UK company in 1994. Over the last 10 years, the company has transitioned from importer to UK manufacturer and exporter of workplace and education furniture solutions. Jonathan has also developed KI’s wider EMEA and Asia-Pacific representation.

Trained as an architect/designer, Jonathan’s early career in the 1980s included working with Michael Aukett Associates and Heery International. In the 1990s, he worked with design & build companies and as the Marketing Director of Rosehaugh for the Kings Cross, Ludgate and Broadgate property developments in London.

An active member of The Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers, the furnishing industry’s charity, Jonathan served as Master in 2013-2014, and continues as its Fundraising Chairman. In 2013, Jonathan commissioned and sponsored the V&A publication ‘Modern British Furniture Design – since 1945’ – widely recognised as the most authoritative book on the subject.

Jonathan founded the Design Guild Mark in 2008. “British furniture design has an illustrious history. The Design Guild Mark was my way of establishing rigorous, peer-driven recognition of design talent in volume production furniture.

More recently, Jonathan was appointed Chairman of the British Furniture Confederation, of which the BCFA is an executive member.

Contact KI

We would love to hear about your journey into design, please leave a comment below or tweet us @DesignInsider1

About Alys Bryan

Alys' experience as a furniture designer, along with her in-depth marketing knowledge, makes her uniquely placed to work with the BCFA as the Editor of Design Insider and run her marketing business, Method Communications.
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