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A picture of Gemma Lord

Gemma Lord


in designer, mac

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Gemma Lord and I'm a designer. People usually ask what kind of things I design, but I prefer to define what I do by the processes I use. Through thinking about society, technology, culture or politics using design methods, it's possible to explore the future by making real products, experiences, services and systems.

I recently graduated from the Glasgow School of Art 'Master of European Design' programme, with a project called Arctic Alba. Arctic Alba is an experiment into whether design methods can be used to create an alternative geography, one in which Scotland is an Arctic facing nation. A Taxonomy of North, design narratives and domestic devices explore the possibilities, relationships and everyday experiences that may evolve if Scotland were to participate in the 'cold rush', becoming more active in the emerging Arctic arena.

I currently working for a design studio in London called Normally where we design digital products and services as well as doing 'expeditions' where we think about the future through design.

What hardware do you use?

A lot of my work is done digitally, so I use a MacBook Pro Retina most of the time. At Normally we have some large Apple displays to make graphic work easier to do. I also use a Wacom tablet as I find it makes digital graphic work easier to manipulate. I communicate a lot of my work using photographs and short films, and I use two Canons for that - a 550D and 6D.

Of course I also use 'hardware' in the traditional sense - pens, paper, whiteboards and materials for prototyping from time to time (wood, plastics, metal etc...) and 3D modelling machinery when available such as a laser cutter and 3D printer.

At the beginning of a project I try to engage with people who know a lot about the subject area in order to gain insights. To do this I sometimes develop my own tools and games to use during workshops.

And what software?

For the digital and written work I do I use Adobe products - Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop. I also use Lightroom and VSCO film emulation packages for editing photos. I've recently started using Sketch, as an alternative to Adobe. I also use Final Cut for editing films. Though it's not used to make work, I couldn't work without Spotify - we have it on all day long on the studio Sonos system and I love the new Discover Weekly playlist.

I'd really like to learn to code so that I can prototype digital products. Watch this space!

What would be your dream setup?

I'm only just starting out really so my list is quite long! I'd love to have my own workshop space attached to the studio where I can make things in wood, plastics and ceramics. A laser cutter in particular would be really useful.

I really like making large posters to communicate the ideas I'm thinking about, It'd be good to get a plotter so I can print them all myself! It's really important to me to have a nice space to work in - white walls, lots of light and decent coffee!