Luke Pearson and Tom Lloyd, schoolmates from London’s Royal College of Art, founded PearsonLloyd in 1997. From its inception, the firm has been a trailblazer with its designs for workplaces, healthcare centers and aircraft interiors. Their client roster includes companies such as Knoll, and they have won numerous awards for the upper class seats they designed for Virgin Atlantic.
Luke Pearson attributes his company’s success to a focus on research, data mining and a concern with making legible and functional products. In addition, Pearson told ArchiExpo e-Magazine that they “very rarely will accept a brief.”
As designers, we create scenarios and then test them.
PearsonLloyd is known for its cross-disciplinary approach. Pearson notes that back in the late 1990s, furniture designers and product designers inhabited different realms. “Our idea was mixing disciplines,” he says, explaining that “furniture designers tended to be from craft and product designers were more focused on the packaging of technology.” The design world has since caught up.
Now we have televisions that are trying to behave like furniture again, and we have furniture with embedded technology.
“When we launched it with Knoll, everybody said we were crazy,” says Pearson, adding that since then “the biggest change in office design has been from the tethered to the nomadic.”
He noted that twenty years ago the rule of thumb in many offices was that 95% of personnel had their own desks. Today, typically only 50% have exclusive use of a particular desk.
To address the contemporary emphasis on mobility and multipurpose surfaces, PearsonLloyd recently collaborated with a small British company called Modus to produce Edge, a system of office furniture that can be configured in various formats. The centerpiece of the collection is a table that is designed to function as a surface for eating, meeting or working on computers.
Some of the design initiatives Pearson is most excited about focus on human wellness. “When I see people sitting for hours, I say, Let’s get up and walk around.”
The understanding that posture is incredibly important means…
that we also realize that it might be important for people to go to a meeting and sit on a sofa, and at other times it is really good for them to stand up around a table and to keep moving.”
One of the most striking design initiatives that PearsonLloyd has developed is a system of graphics for Great Britain’s Accident and Emergency rooms called A Better A&E, which is oriented around reducing violence through signage on walls and even on ceilings.
These are very high stress environments where people are scared for their lives.
Pearson described A Better A&E as a communication product that for every British pound invested has saved three pounds in damage from lost hours due to stress.
A concern with clarity is the thread that ties together PearsonLloyd’s varied projects. “Design should be straightforward—it should be understandable,” Pearson maintains.
I am especially interested when someone with no design education tells me what is wrong—they are not clouded with any knowledge—it is just pure response.