Why did you become a designer?
Purely because designing and making things is fun. I find it extremely satisfying to take ideas from my imagination and turn them into physical products.
Which designer or company do you most admire and why?
I think Yves Behar has done some smart stuff, not least his Shoe box/bag and Y Water Bottle. I like designers that establish their own definable style.
What product couldn’t you live without?
My bike. I love the fact that bikes are such an efficient way to travel. I love the mix of form and function and the sense of freedom. They are beautiful things.
What design would you have loved to have designed and why?
There are two objects that I currently find extremely beautiful – neither of which are products. I love the new Jaguar C-X16 concept sports car. I think Ian McCallum has the Midas touch when it comes to car design. I also regularly marvel at Renzo Piano’s Shard of Glass, especially on a sunny day. I can only imagine how amazing it must feel to have designed it.
Play-Doh, Meccano or Lego?
Lego – all day long.
What are your weapons of choice?
Foam core and a scalpel. In fact, rough prototypes of any type. I reckon transforming an idea into something physical as soon as possible is the best way to move it forward. There’s no substitute for testing.
What is missing from your toolset?
My very own stereolithography rapid prototype machine.
Is there anything that would make your design and development process run smoother?
I am constantly caught out how little I know about materials, manufacturing techniques and how badly I am able to communicate through simple sketches. I regularly wish I had more knowledge and experience, or access to someone that did.
What’s the biggest challenge facing designers at the moment?
Figuring out how to influence and understand the changing face of manufacturing. Many UK designers seem to be turning to service design and are increasingly producing intangible outputs as manufacturing moves abroad. I hope there is a reversal of this, perhaps facilitated by additive manufacturing techniques.
Can you predict any future trends?
The rise of the 3D printer and localised manufacturing. Also Hover boards and the return of the soda stream.
If you were hosting a dinner party who would you invite and why?
I’d want to keep things funny and interesting. I’d ask Eddie Izzard and Brian Cox, perhaps Lauren Laverne as well as Brett and Germain from ‘Flight of the Conchords’, for the banter. I saw Ellen MacArthur talk recently and she was amazing, so would like her to come along too.
Mark Champkins is the Science Museum’s Inventor in Residence. He is also founder of Concentrate Design, a company he set up to develop innovate products to help pupils concentrate at school with funding he received from participating in Dragon’s Den.