Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Mark Turner ("MT") for their original perspective and innovative approach to design as well as their creative lifestyle, we are very pleased to share our interview with our distinguished readers.

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?

MT : I have always enjoyed drawing and creating from an early age, and wanted to be a sculptor. As a child I used to walk passed Henry Moore’s studio every weekend with my father. Later I was to attend a secondary school, which had a family group statue by Henry Moore and as a student, spent many hours drawing and painting it. I then decided after leaving school at 16, to attend design school. I did an Ordinary National Diploma (OND) in art and design at Stevenage College in Hertfordshire. It was a great course that introduced me to all aspects of design, from packaging to typography, to print to fashion and textiles, and furthered my love of studying art history. I graduated from there with a diploma with merit, but my love of packaging had really taken hold. I was transfixed, by the whole form and aspect of what packaging could do for a product. I then attended Great Yarmouth Art of School at the Higher National Diploma (HND) level, again within the two years I attended the course, my love of art history escalated and my interest in Henry Moore’s sculptures turned to his war drawings, which I was fascinated by and in my spare time from the course I would produce numerous pen and ink drawings. My final thesis was on Henry Moore’s work. I then graduated from there with a Higher National Diploma with distinction. Further into my design career, my path crossed again with Henry Moore as I joined and worked at a design studio, which was based in the same village as his studio. So Henry Moore has been a huge influence on me as a designer and artist.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?

MT : I love to create; I have always and will always love to design. To produce good, solid effective design gives me a huge buzz, and I am as passionate today as I have always been since I was at art school.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?

MT : Not really forced no. My uncle was a commercial artist, as they used to call them, and I wanted to go into fine art with my love of sculptor from my influence of Henry Moore, but I guess he persuaded me to go into more commercial art and become a designer. So I combined my love and passion for 3D and form and became a packaging designer.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?

MT : I design branding, point of sale and packaging. I would love to design more glassware and tinplate packaging, for the packaging form as well as the look of the surface graphics.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?

MT : I don’t see myself as a design legend. Certainly in my own eyes, I am a simple designer who enjoys his love of design and to see the success my clients have with my design. My advice to young designers is to listen to your peers, watch how they work, do not be frightened to ask questions, however ridiculous you think the question is. But most of all have fun! Design is not a job it is a way of life!

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?

MT : Good question. GREAT design to me is timeless! With perfect precision nothing more, nothing less, pure perfection! Good design aspires to be great and in time, can accomplish it.

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?

MT : A design that looks effortless, simplistic and timeless. A design with meaning and has a true conviction to the brand.

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?

MT : In the case of packaging it can sell product! As long as the product inside the packaging is of equally good and high standard, the client will retain future sales and new sales. Very early in my career I worked on a range of frozen dessert pie packaging for a retailer in the UK, and the supplier of the product called me to say that the sales had gone up over 300% since his product was sold in the newly designed packaging. So good design really can influence and create huge increases in sales.

DL: What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?

MT : Gosh, I would really love to design a very unique champagne bottle or maybe an amazing perfume bottle and packaging both with no expense spared totally new and incredibly stunning and decadent, yet still relevant to the brand and client.

DL: What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?

MT : I would love to take a brand/piece of packaging and revolutionise it to the extreme, looking closely at its carbon footprint, the material it is using, the shape and form it has always been presented in. Something that pushes the technology to beyond its limits and really makes the world think about the need for design and more importantly great purposeful design. That would be pretty awesome.

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?

MT : My secret is really my approach to all my designs; less is more, to keep the design to it’s simplest, non-cluttered or over-worked or fussy. But if there is a call for a more complicated design then, the most important point to consider is what to leave off and what is not needed in the design. I think this is the art of true design, which is my approach and kind of style to my way of thinking to design.

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?

MT : I admire many great designers: Marcello Minale, Martin Lambie-Nairn, Mary Lewis, Ian Logan, Jean Paul Gaultier and Paul Smith to name just a few.

DL: What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?

MT : Gosh there are so many I could choose, I really love the following ones: 1. The wireless Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin speaker for its ergonomic, simplistic shape. 2. The Mac Pro again for its beautiful form and perfect styling. 3. Monkey Shoulder Scotch Whisky bottle & branding for its pure genius! Its 3 brass monkeys full of fun and quirkiness. And many more besides!

DL: What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?

MT : At the moment I would say the ‘Vonziu Elite Range’, as I have won not only silver but also a gold global award, both from my international peers. I have some great ideas for the rest in the range and I am very proud and honoured to be the creator of the design. I hope it becomes an iconic piece in later years to come.

DL: How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?

MT : For me I learnt very early on in my career that less is more and that it was equally important to know what to leave out and what to leave in on a design. When I was at art school I had a tendency to over complicate my designs to the point of full decoration, and one of my tutors took me aside and showed me how to think differently. I guess with a more commercial eye and viewpoint, it certainly worked and I still use the same thought process today.

DL: If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?

MT : I would of still done a job in the arts. I think if you are creative it is very hard not to follow your heart.

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?

MT : LIFE! It is so important that everything is designed, from a simple paper clip to a complex constructed building. Without design in the world, the world would be a dull empty box. Design at its best, captures the eye, appeals to the heart and satisfies the mind… It can help sell the most mundane items and to give them real purpose.

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?

MT : My life partner, who I know would truly follow me to the ends of the earth. And to my biggest supporters would again be my wife Susan and my two amazing daughters Madison and Skye.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?

MT : My family giving me self-belief, and my passion from within to rise to any challenges that maybe thrown at me.

DL: What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?

MT : I don’t think this as a true obstacle but finding someone who would believe in me and who would give me a chance to be great!

DL: How do you think designers should present their work?

MT : At my studio we present our designs both in a traditional manner as well as in a digital format. We start the presentation using the digital version first, backed up with the concept presented on a design board, which our client can keep and review at their leisure. But some presentations we do are just digital, as our clients find it easier to email the concepts to other departments or colleagues within the company.

DL: What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?

MT : Unfortunately, I would love to discuss any new projects that I am working on, but I can only talk about it once it is in the market place due to client confidentiality…But you can expect it to be something special!

DL: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?

MT : I would love to be recognised more by my peers for my design work. To work even more internationally, and to do what I love to do…produce stunning, beautiful design.

DL: What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?

MT : I think they expect, and rightly so, ‘Excellence’. Be it from the overall design, to the way I conduct and guide them through the design project. They expect full professionalism every step of the way, not only in guiding or advising them but also in the way I conduct and express my thoughts.

DL: How does design help create a better society?

MT : As a designer, and especially a packaging designer I feel a huge responsibility to the environment that I share with my fellow creatures. I do not believe in over packaging and I am working on design concepts for one of the UK’s largest retailers to reduce significant product carbon footprints. I also strongly believe that having design all around you being almost immersed in it can give you inspiration, a sense of pleasure, and a feeling of serenity.

DL: What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?

MT : I am current working on the rest of the Vonziu Elite range and I am looking to be producing some really exciting tactile finishes on the packaging.

DL: Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?

MT : I have be so fortunate to work on some amazing projects from the Sea Containers ‘Blue Ribbon’ Trans-Atlantic Crossing Challenge to numerous launches for Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. I think my most prestigious and satisfying project was when I designed and created for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England. Our relationship started when I was working for another design company. I was a key team member who created both ‘The Royal Farms’ and ‘The Windsor Farm Shop’ brands, in which we worked closely with His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh. The experience was second to none, as the brand icons are now part of ‘The Royal Archives’. The whole project was huge, high profile and very pressurised as the amount of work that was needed to be produced was to a very short and tight deadline. There were over 500 items that needed to be designed, sourced and branded from milk packaging to whisky and champagne packaging, to a simply branded carrier bag to an intricate piece of Point of Sale. The project was massively exciting, but on the other hand hugely worrying, as I knew the world’s press was going to scrutinise every little detail I did.

DL: What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?

MT : More money put into design. For creatives to have a free unchallenged existence in society. To be allowed to make mistakes and not condemned them for making them, but to celebrate, and to learn by them.

DL: Where do you think the design field is headed next?

MT : I think design has taken on a whole new meaning and importance in today’s world. Clients want design with true meaning and not just with decoration. I feel people love and appreciate design more than ever! With the advances in technology and digital media the impossible is now possible which is extremely exciting. There are no boundaries to what can be achieved as long as we can dream we can create!

DL: How long does it take you to finalize a design project?

MT : It depends, if it is a piece of standard packaging it can be a few weeks. But I like to take the standard and turn it on its head. I love the challenge of designing something that pushes the boundaries and taking the impossible and coming up with a solution that has a new view on it.

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?

MT : Brain storming; either as a studio discussion or just me with my pencil and pad. All my creative works starts with a sketch or a scribble.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?

MT : I live by 3 simple words Creative – Passionate – Thinking. All of them have stood me in great stead as a designer.

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?

MT : It can be a bit of both. But normally I find design sets the trends, especially with the direction the design takes.

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?

MT : The technology allows me greater control over my designs, either it to be used to retouch an image I am using or to create and redraw a bespoke piece of lettering both tasks can be accomplished with ease and speed with the technology I have at my fingertips.

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?

MT : For me it all starts with my trusty pencil, markers and layout pad. I am a traditionally trained designer, but once I have the initial ideas and thoughts out and down on my pad. I take to the Mac. Software packages are illustrator, photoshop, strata and iC3D. But where I can, I love combining traditional skills with technology.

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?

MT : All are very important, colour especially can set the mood of the design straight off, e.g. does it have a premium feel or a lower end feel for the market to which it is going to be place in. It can also get the design noticed and make it stand off the shelf and really give shelf appeal. I personally love to use different materials and varnishes, both can add a tactile feel to the design, with real effect.

DL: What do you wish people to ask about your design?

MT : What was my train of thought, how did I come to that final conclusion of the chosen route and finished design.

DL: When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?

MT : Inspiration – I love looking at great design regards what ever it is, but I feel all design should be celebrated even if it is not iconic. It is the celebration of someone’s mind and thoughts that are on show. Strip back the technology and process of production and all you are left with is the raw idea and that can be the real exciting, inspiring point to the design.

DL: Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?

MT : I am a team player and have worked in large and small design teams, and have headed up many teams, but I do enjoy working on all aspects of the design from creating the brand to designing and producing the final piece of packaging.

DL: Which people you interacted had the most influence on your design?

MT : Today my team has the most influence on my design as I believe you create some of the most stunning work when you bounce your ideas off like minded creatives.

DL: Which books you read had the most effect on your design?

MT : I am an avid collector of books about design and fine art. I love the crossovers and influences between them. Generally, I love all books and comics, anything that gets my emotions stirring and makes me question the true meaning of the story line, and opens my mind. I read comics also as they can inspirer quick bursts of visual excitement, even if it is just a simple combination of colours they have used in a frame.

DL: How did you develop your skills as a master designer?

MT : I have been very lucky in my career to work with some amazing designers and creative people who I have learnt and listened to, which has greatly developed and honed my skills to what they are today, but one thing I have learnt over the years is that you are always learning every day.

DL: Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?

MT : So many great people have come and gone… but I would love to chat with Leonardo da Vinci, Salvador Dali and Steve Jobs. We would discuss, life and design over a coffee!

DL: How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?

MT : The awards are amazing for me it so important to be recognised by your peers to feel that what you are designing not only has a commercial purpose but to be recognised as great design. That is what I aspire to and will keep on aspiring too!

DL: What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?

MT : I love all colours in my designs, I love to experiment with the use of metallic inks, I personally wear a lot of black so I guess favourite colour would be black, but I always have a bright colour to accompany what I am wearing. I love France and Italy! Food Italian, passionate about pasta. I guess thing and brand would be Apple and my iPhone as I love to have music on all the time both at home and in the studio, it can relax you, excite you and inspirer you.

DL: Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?

MT : I remember working on a bottle design with a label that had a elasticated bow to hold it on the bottle. It was for a photo shoot. While I was talking to the client a colleague of mine was looking at the bottle and the tag and decides to pull the bow apart. Unfortunately when he tried to re-tie it, it kept on coming undone as they were produced by machine. It would not have been so bad but the client only had one bow for the shoot and the bow came from a supplier in Italy. So the shoot had to be cancelled and rescheduled until we could fly some more samples over to use. So lesson learnt do not touch or pull apart mock-ups on the day of the shoot, as it can be very costly!!

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?

MT : Every day is different in the studio. I start the week with a plan with what needs to be done, but it can easily be changed and turned on its head with a simple phone call or email, but that’s what makes life exciting sometimes the unknown and the way you adapt and reorganise the traffic through the studio can get you motivated. Deadlines for me are exciting as I love the constant challenge of being against the clock it makes me think clearer and even more precise as I do not have time to redo or rework my designs.

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?

MT : I was always drawing and would ask for artwork materials for birthdays’ and Christmas when I was a child so my parents were not surprised when I wanted to attend art school.

DL: What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?

MT : Wow, very hard to predict, I just hope the world is a more forgiving place and much more tolerant. I hope with the advances of technology will bring even more creativity and design to everyone and not only to those who can pay a premium for it. For me the world is a far better place with creative people in it and we should celebrate it more!

DL: Please tell us anything you wish your fans to know about you, your design and anything else?

MT : It would be great to think that what I have designed over the years has been seen and liked by my colleagues, the public and my peers. I think as a creative we are never satisfied with the end result and we are always striving for better. I am extremely proud to be part of the design community as I have worked and met some amazing creative people who have so much talent as artists that it is very humbling for me to work along side. I am truly blessed with the path I have taken and continuing to take in to my later years. I hope to still stun, surprise and delight with my designs!



Vonziu Elite Puppy Dog Food Bag

Vonziu Elite Puppy Dog Food Bag by Mark Turner

Spice Chakra Indian Recipe Pack Packaging to display spice ingredients

Spice Chakra Indian Recipe Pack Packaging to display spice ingredients by Mark Turner

SoundRevel Branding Brand Identity

SoundRevel Branding Brand Identity by Mark Turner

DeAngelis Italian Chocolate Packaging

DeAngelis Italian Chocolate Packaging by Mark Turner

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