Luke Smoothy studied BSc Product Design and graduated from Kingston University in 2011. Luke is an award-winning freelance furniture designer and Director of Get It Made Ltd.
My day currently starts with checking messages from China that have been sent overnight, which often leads to a long chain of project management tasks. We check the status of orders, keep them running on time, and make sure we quickly resolve any issues. I also have a look at quote requests submitted by new and existing clients.
Later in the day we focus on all things digital marketing. We constantly look to improve our web presence, as this is our real revenue driver. We look at content, link building, PR, page load speeds as well as PPC (Google Ads). If there is any remaining time in the day, there is a long list of finance and accounting work to be completed. As with any business there's huge amounts of admin, and we are always on the hunt for automation tools that save us time.
Initially, I designed office furniture for a small but highly regarded furniture design consultancy called Webb Associates. I was a part of a team that designed and developed multiple award-winning products. I particularly remember when our innovative designs won at the 2014 NeoCon awards in Chicago. It was really satisfying to see a few years of hard work payoff.
After five years, I pivoted to the manufacturing industry and founded Get It Made Ltd. Helping world-leading companies manufacture their products has been a highlight at Get It Made. I am grateful to work with industry giants and smaller start-ups, working to transform our planet for the better. We hope to start working with 1% for the Planet soon, which means we commit to donating one per cent of our turnover to not-for-profits. This is something I am looking forward to championing to other businesses.
After visiting a few universities, Kingston was the only campus I left with a positive feeling about. I think it was a mixture of the students who gave an honest opinion about the course, the facilities, and the lecturers who made me feel motivated. There were also practical reasons for choosing Kingston. It was just on the other side of London from where I grew up, so it offered me the advantage of keeping in frequent contact with friends and family. I had the live away experience but still only 90 minutes away from a weekend back at home.
What helped me the most was actually something simple like Computer-Aided Design (CAD) skills, which helped me get my first industry job at Webb Associates. Without those skills I would have struggled to get any job anywhere in design; it is quite rightly the number one basic skill. Improving my public speaking was also important. To stand up and confidently present your ideas, even if the designs were half-baked or not quite right was a skill I learnt by doing it every other week.
My favourite memory of Kingston has to be the degree shows, both the on campus show at Knights Park and New Designers. It was a bitter-sweet time; a few years of hard work all culminating in my final projects. It was great to have got through all the hard work, the stressful "crits" that often put me back to square one, and then finish with two final projects I could be proud of. And not forgetting all the great friendships you have built, the end of an era… However, I have been lucky to hold on to many friends from Kingston, so there certainly was a legacy of friends built there.
I come into regular contact with Kingston's product design and engineering students. We recently produced some parts for the Kingston Racing Team as part of the Formula Student competition. We also provided sponsorship by manufacturing 12 bespoke precision CNC Machined components for the car. The students were great to work with and the parts were well engineered – to be honest better engineered than most businesses we deal with! I look forward to working with the team again this year.
I have time-space synaesthesia, which basically means I 'see' time. When I think about what I will be doing in two months' time, I visually move around an odd-shaped circle looking for that time. I remember seeing a BBC article about it and thought "that is what I see!", but to be honest I thought everyone did the same thing. Sadly, it doesn't really help with timekeeping, so I can still be late from time to time!
Find out about other Kingston University alumni we have caught up with.