Nick Munro launched his career in the design world by turning bed springs into egg cups – an instant hit which won him the UK Young Entrepreneur of the Year prize. Since then, he has become synonymous with original, British design, boasting notable collaborations and a signature collection that combines his distinctive craftsmanship with integrity and wit. From The V&A Museum to Bugatti and Royal Selangor, Nick has been asked to contribute to a number of design programs over the years and is still recognised for his high quality design and immaculate attention to detail. The LuxPad sat down with Nick to talk about how it all began and to find out what’s next for the Nick Munro brand…
Have you always wanted to be a designer? How did you get started in the industry?
I think have always been a designer infact – I didnt exactly choose the profession so much as I was chosen by it (or at least that’s how it has always felt!). Getting started was therefore just a matter of taking the first step along what seemed a familiar road…and turning bedsprings into egg cups as below.
In your early career you earned the accolade of UK Young Entrepreneur of the Year by turning bed springs into egg cups, how has the design world changed since then?
Well that was a long time ago and not many designers seemed to want to be entrepreneurs back then, possibly because contemporary design had not connected with the public outside of Habitat so anything modernist and minimal was a much tougher sell than today. Meanwhile there was of course no internet or mobile phone network so things were at the same time simpler and more difficult for everyone working in design – there wasn’t a ‘design community’ in truth.
Throughout your career you’ve been commissioned by many international companies including Wedgwood & The V&A Museum, which has been your favourite collaboration to date?
Actually I did love working with Wedgwood as my very first commission. They asked me to re-invent Jasperware way back in 1999 and I had such a fun time with everyone in their team from the boardroom to the factory floor – everyone was totally committed to the product and it was a great privilege to see my first co-brand ‘Nick Munro for Wedgwood’ emerge. This was important because it set the template for all my other collaborations since including the very latest watch collection just launched under the ‘Nick Munro for Belstaff’ label.
As a designer of everything from furniture & tableware to watches; do you have a particular product you like to design most?
Ah, that’s a really difficult question! In truth I love the variety of what I do and get a kick out of working simultaneously on such diverse briefs. There is a phrase that comes to mind though which was coined by the tennis player Andre Agassi when he was at his formidable peak and someone asked him ‘What is the most important point in tennis?’ to which he replied ‘The next one!’ and that is about as close as I can get to picking a favourite design project.
What has been your career highlight to date?
Hmm, again that’s a tricky one to pick but last year I was made a Fellow of the City&Guilds London and somehow being amongst such a bunch of luminaries from engineering, craft, academia, the arts etc felt like a sort of arrival. I had to give a lecture about my career to the assembled great&good and it was rather amazing when I traced my steps back to ponder the many highlights and adventures which have taken me all over the world thus far – from China to Malaysia to Japan, the USA whilst meanwhile criss crossing Europe from Sheffield to Berlin to Belfast. So that particular honour was a sort of compendium of highlights which in turn triggered an invitation from Imperial College to become Visiting Lecturer at the new Dyson School and I am curious to see where that leads, hopefully to the odd extra highlight somewhere along the road?!
How would you describe your own interior style and what is your favourite room in your home?
Our house is a 1970s modernist bungalow that my wife Ali and I bought as a real ugly duckling and restored to its former glory. It is very long (30m) with hardly any windows facing the road so you cant tell what lies inside but when entering you find that everywhere inside is glass looking into the garden so it is full of light and colour with a mixture of favourite furniture and accessories from all over the world. It’s a great party house too with a big open plan central space and so is most often filled with people who seem to feel right at home.
What three home comforts couldn’t you live without?
I don’t think that 3 would entirely cover it but if I had to pick I would say my vintage Lloyd Loom chair that I love to sunbathe in the garden (and catch 40 winks as often as not), my chicken brick which guarantees a tasty dinner (even for a slightly basic cook such as I) and our table tennis table which is played by all and sundry and from time to time the scene of my proudest victories!
How would you spend your perfect day off?
Ha, well probably a combination of the above…an afternoon sunbathe in the Lloyd Loom, a chicken brick dinner and a victory (or two) at the Table Tennis table!!
Do you have any advice for aspiring designers?
Yes, I would love to encourage young designers to take their time. It’s a really interesting and varied career which will keep you energised and motivated forever so don’t rush. There is lots to learn, lots of brilliant people to meet and lots of fabulous places to go. Think about the great artists and how they kept active and productive for the whole of their long lives – that’s the dividend of a career in design.
What does 2018 hold for the Nick Munro brand?
There is a bit of a lengthening list presently (!) but highlights that I am looking forward to include the launch of my new ‘Airborne’ cutlery which uses a new technology to make curvaceous, ergonomic shapes which are incredibly light and so of interest to the airlines, my next watch project with Belstaff which will commence later this month, the launch of the new ANUMO furniture collection designed with Ali for Teal Living (part of the awesome Senator Group) and the opening of the new Principal Hotel in Bloomsbury where my Silver Teapots will take centre stage in their Tearoom – I am planning to make that a home from home when I am in town…