I follow my intuition and trust my instincts. I see us all as incredible sensory beings, like magical instruments, picking up on the resonance and frequency of life as we experience and observe the world around us. So if it feels good, if it feels right, you sense the good vibrations and just do it, pushing forward, without holding back, without looking down.
I don’t follow market research or trends. I just have a sense for what could be, I love popular design and culture, try to believe in myself and at the very least give it a go. I am not afraid to take big risks because you have to leap if you want to triumph.
I grew up in rural Somerset with my elder brother and younger sister. My father was an aerospace engineer, a jazz pianist, an artist, cyclist and tinkerer. My mother was a linguist, a gardener, supreme organiser and a wonderful mum. Together they taught me that life is here for the taking.
As a curious, creative and energetic boy I was obsessed with dreaming up ideas and making things. It’s no surprise that I went on to study product design at university where I conceived my first innovation WakeYoo, the recordable alarm clock, which set me on the course to become an inventor.
Everything starts with a question, a stream of questions. I wonder if? Why do they do it like that? Surely there’s another way? Do you even need it? What’s the point? How can we be more?
I generate lots of ideas, sometimes alone, sometimes with friends or in collaborations and work hard to realise the best of them as tangible product innovations that solve a particular problem in the best way possible. Everything I do is purpose driven and holds the intention of making life better in a new, useful and novel way.
Of course I have plenty of duff ideas that never make it out of the sketch book and part of the process is to embrace failure along the way.
Every product is different and I pride myself in holding diverse interests and talents and I reflect these through the scope of my work. But really, I’m just bumbling along, like everyone else, trying to work it out and doing my best to contribute to the world in a positive way.
My inventions include:
1. Wakeyoo, the recordable alarm clock (1997)
2. BubbleScope One, 360º digital stills camera. Numerous 360º imaging devices — concepts & physical prototypes (2001–2007)
6. Lockdown, outdoor stash-box (2010)
7. Micro Honkers, honking handlebars for Microscooters (2013)
Available to buy here.
8. Million Mile Light, the battery-free safety light for runners that’s powered by motion (2015)
Available to buy here.
I don’t believe in planned obsolescence so, as best I can, I make products that last, which I why the majority of my focus is now on growing the Battery-Free product range.
So what’s next?
I know what the next couple of projects will be as I have already made proof of concept prototypes.
The themes driving me forward are Playability, Sustainability and Durability.
But I always keep some of my mind free for anything else that might crop up. Inspiration can strike at the most unexpected times and I live for the rush and excitement of creating something new. It’s like a great voyage of the mind.
As well as my professional design projects I like to run and travel and I occasionally make television programmes.
In 2012 I designed a Fantastic Floating Home for Channel 4 with my son Barney.
In 2001 I got blindfolded and dumped on an Island in the middle of the White Sea in Northern Russia with $200 and returned to London within 7 days for a reality TV show called Lost.
I was also the judge for CBBC show ‘My Genius Idea’ (2010), presented a segment called ‘Fix It, Don’t Bin It’ on BBC2 consumer show ‘What To Buy & Why’ (2016) and am a presenter on Channel 4 show ‘Shop The Future’ (2016).
I am represented for TV work by Roar Global in London. Here is my showreel.
Anything else of note?
I travelled to South Africa when I was twenty and spent a year working in high-end virtual reality graphics, building the world’s largest real time 3D simulation.
I overcame serious injury from a car accident to become a long distance runner.
I presented my story at Cusp Conference in Chicago in November 2014.
I take Barney to school on a skateboard bike.
I’m married to my beautiful wife, Charlie who I met when I was nineteen.
My brother Will is a singer-songwriter, surfer and dry-stone-waller and lives close by me in Wiltshire.
My sister Katie runs a jungle lodge in central Madhya Pradesh, India.
I went to Sheldon Comprehensive School and sixth form in Chippenham. I followed this with a 4 year sandwich degree in Product Design and Visualisation at Bournemouth University. I graduated in 1998.
When I developed WakeYoo I was earning £4.50 an hour working at a local golf course and paid a patent attorney £150 an hour. Somehow, through hard work and sacrifice, I have always managed to find a way forward and to build confidence in others despite never having had the resource to undertake any of the projects you have read about above.
However, over the course of an eighteen year career I have met some wonderful souls who have partnered with me on many of my ventures — indeed much of my work is the result of team efforts — so now I have a crew it feels like the right time to start making some waves.
You just got to keep on going.
Please get in touch if you think I can help you.
Return to www.tomlawton.com