Super-Fast Designs

Lewis Holden, Product Designer at TNS Design Services, shares an insight into providing industry creative services during a recession and how he has refined his skills to offer retailers and suppliers ‘super-fast’ design services.

Can you share a bit about your background and current role?

I grew up in the hotel industry and found a love for production in hotel kitchens. I studied Product Design at University and then worked in industry in Leeds for two years before taking the leap of faith. I’m a very tangential thinker who assimilates dissociated information.

I currently work on a sub-contractual bases for customers in the bedding industry providing my services as a designer of both graphic and product outcomes. Recent responsibilities have included working with fabricators and signage manufacturers in order to produce production ready LED Retail Displays, Tv Rails as well as artwork for exhibition display stands; recently for Purecare at the January Furniture Show.

I’m also responsible for the design and production of the Ovafly Bowling Machine, which is a 3D printed batting trainer designed for junior cricketers to use in their back garden. Ovafly is made using an exciting method of production called CPM (Compartmentalised Printer Manufacturing) and I’m in the process of upscaling this venture.

What do you love about your job?

Most people I work with only have a ‘vision’ of what they want me to deliver, so I really enjoy bringing that dream to life which is a very spiritual process involving the discernment and assimilation of prior experience as well as new research.

What skills do you use to design for your customers?

I’m very proficient in vector drawing programmes and produce artwork very quickly for visual approval. For fabrication I will produce visual interpretations of the concept, which is a digital rendering of the final product for discussion with the fabricator or to accompany the product advertising, and then technical drawings and models for post-production/machining. I can take a concept drawn on paper and turn it into something real – very quickly. It’s a very technical process but this comes very naturally to me now after years of doing it.

What can you offer retailers looking for design services?

I’ve built up enough experience now to know how to really quicken up the initial idea phase and converge on something specific and relevant to the brief. If not done correctly this phase can really take up a lot of time and money. I’m good at focusing things and getting inside the customers head so that I am on their ‘wavelength’. Very often I am working to week or 10-day deadlines. I’m very often working with people who don’t know what they want but expect me to produce it for them in a week – and I do.

What is the hardest thing about the job and running your own business?

Experiencing life’s ups and downs brings the realisation that no problem is ever fundamentally solved – you are only ever ‘outgrowing’ the problems that used to cause anxiety. Remaining on the ‘half-full’ side of things is important because there is always going to be the temptation to focus on ‘the darkness’ at any moment. I think we are given those two options to push us to ascend into a better self. Running an enterprise during a recession and Covid has been a test and sometimes it is an achievement to simply survive. My advice is to make sure your inner state is in order, and then the external stuff follows suit naturally.

What most excites you about the industry in the future?

Production and post-production in the additive manufacturing sector is a great passion of mine. Taking responsibility for sustainable plastics production is high on the planet’s priority list and a lot of overseas import/export shipping networks are now inefficient. I think we have lost our way in this country in regard to producing things of quality rather than penny pinching on outcomes that serve a very short-term life.


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