Roger Allen grew up in London among a family of tailors meaning he was always a hard grafter and could hand sew from the age of 8 or 9. This gave him a passion for design at a young age and he went on to study at UCL The Bartlett, UEL Holbrook and The London College of Furniture.

In 2004 he founded Nonsense Design which is an Architecture and Interior design company that touches on everything from interior design and retail spaces to modern art and reclaimed furniture. They hold the environment at the heart of the business and this is obvious when looking at their light and airy designs. They also very much focus on playful sensory architecture as well as making sure that every design is suitable for all, including those less able. This was something I found really interesting as I personally come from a family with quite a lot of disability so hearing that this was at the heart of his business was really nice to hear and made me think that I should include this more in my own projects as it is something I personally deal with as well.

One of the things he did mention was that there is only 4 other people in his company, including a builder. This was really interesting to me as I always assumed that small companies couldn’t function on the large scale that Nonsense seemed to and that was really positive to hear. I have previously working in a company of 3/4 so it was pleasant to know that something that small could achieve such big things. He also mentioned that there was no real hierarchy and that everyone worked as a team all the time. It was really nice to hear this as it’s not something you hear very often and is the kind of company that I want to go into.

Obviously Architecture is not my area of interest however Roger did give a lot of really good advice for anyone wanting a career in the creative arts. He put a lot of emphasis on building good relationships and that where there is trust there is also business. This reinforced a point that is often told to us that networking is key and getting a good client base of people that trust you is very important. He did however say that dealing with people is very hard which is something I already know from previous experience, especially when the people you are dealing with don’t understand the trade however this is something that can’t be changed, only dealt with.

The last thing mentioned was Roger’s tips for working in the creative industry.

  • Find out what motives you
  • Gain experience and learn
  • Relationships are as important as creativity
  • Ground your creativity in reality
  • Get a business/career plan

Although I don’t feel like all of these are accurate for my particular area like the business plan, I think that things can still be learnt from this and the advice is always welcome. It was very interesting to hear about relationships being as important as creativity and although I do agree to an extent, I do believe they both work together and that creativity is probably slightly more important to me. I did really like the ‘ground your creativity in reality’ point as sometimes you do think of something that is so out there it’s impossible however in graphic design and advertising it is probably much better to think of a completely out there design as it can then be toned down to become more feasible, however in Roger’s area I can understand how ideas need to always be grounded.

Overall Roger’s talk was really interesting and I am glad I went as I often don’t go to talks by disciplines that are so different to mine. However, it was very interesting and his advice was quite universal.


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