5 minutes with … Mick Karol

1) Hi, can you give us a bit of an overview about who you are and what you do?

Hi, I’m the managing director and founder of blueprint product design. I trained as a product designer specializing in transportation and my first proper job was working for Nortons helping to design their rotary wankle engine motorbike. After subsequently freelancing for a lot of the London based consultancies in the 80s I returned back up to Yorkshire and eventually started working for myself. Over the last 20 years we’ve had lots of ups and downs but the company is now one of the biggest consultancies in the country by turnover and I’m really proud of the fact that the company has survived and grown to the extent it has. In terms of what I do, I tend to spend most of my time now on strategic development of the company, exploiting technology start up ideas and more direct face-to-face relationship building with customers and partners. On a personal note lots of people accuse me of being a technology geek but I genuinely enjoy science and technology and that’s the great thing about my job. I’m one of the few people that can genuinely say that I get paid to do the things I love to do as a hobby.

2) What project are you most proud of and why?

(Long pause) Do you know I cant answer that question… I genuinely can’t suggest any one project that stands out but my aerodynamic bike project at college is one that I loved to work on and in more recent years the ones that seem to have entered main stream product acceptance more than any others are the original flying saucer caravan tv ariel which you now see everywhere (I was the first one to design that) and then the original BullDog garden secateurs (the one that looks like a fish). Again, I was the first one to develop that style for BullDog Tools and now everyone’s secateurs seems to look like that. Thinking about it a bit more there is the Land Rover discovery key fob and I could keep going on and on. There really isn’t one project that stands out.

3) Who/What inspired you personally?

Syd Mead and Raymond Lowey. At the time (when they inspired me) I didn’t know who these people were. I was the first person from Bradford Art College to ever apply and go on a product design course, half the lectures didn’t even know what product design was. But I loved the futurism of Syd Mead and I loved the fact that Raymond Lowey had designed things from the 30s upwards that are common everyday things that people take for granted. It’s hard to go a day without coming into contact with something that Lowey designed. Product design influences the way that we live and to this day Lowey has an influence on our daily lives. On a more esoteric note for some reason I love early Russian constructivism or constructivist art, right up to modern day Russian political cartoon artwork.

4) What can our readers expect from you in the coming months?

We have got some really exciting technology propositions where we are raising significant amounts of money to take them to market. I really do think that some of the things we have developed will have a significant impact when they are launched. These are no mass market goods that people will buy in the shops, but are real high tech bits of scientific equipment that will have a significant impact on peoples standard of living and that is something that I really enjoy, ultimately being able to influence the way people live and interact with the product they use. Helping people.