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Lesley Gulliver - Managing Director, The Engine Room & Design Council

National Festival of Making Conference

Lesley Gulliver leads on strategy at The Engine Room and is highly experienced in the delivery of workshops and stakeholder engagement exercises. She is consultative and facilitative in style, yet has a strong focus on strategic objectives. She is interested in measurable returns and understands ‘brand’ in terms of impact, growth, service development and culture change.

Lesley is also a Design Associate for the Design Council and also a guest presenter at Stockholm-based Hyper Island and London-based Central Research Laboratory. She has also been recently invited and appointed to the Board of the Design Business Association, the UK’s trade association for design.

The Engine Room recently collected two major awards for design impact at the Design Business Association's (DBA) Design Effectiveness Awards 2017, picking up a Gold Award alongside UK manufacturer Polyseam for work together on their GRAFT brand. The Engine Room were also awarded the ultimate accolade, The Grand Prix, for the same project.


Polyseam had established itself as an ‘own brand’ manufacturer of adhesives, sealants and fillers for the likes of Wickes and Homebase but manufacturing in this sector was under threat. The business needed to innovate to grow.

Their response was to develop an environmentally friendly, all-in-one adhesive and sealant, based on new chemical technology, but driving their own brand was new territory. Struggling to gain traction in the market, they enlisted brand agency The Engine Room to clarify the product’s marketing positioning and recommend design and communication tools.

Wanting to be sure the design strategy maximised market opportunity for Polyseam, the agency delved deeper, exploring the real potential for the new product. The design insight and research carried out at the start of the project led to the recommendation of a shift in strategy to extend to a range of products, and the creation of new product brand – GRAFT – which transformed Polyseam’s business from manufacturer to brand house.

Since GRAFT’s launch in 2014, annual sales have increased by 744%. GRAFT has also gained export deals in eight new countries, increasing the business’ export sales turnover by £1million. Polyseam’s opportunities for growth were well and truly realised, and they are now in the process of building a 50,000sqm purpose-built factory, which is estimated to create 50 new jobs by 2020.

Lesley Gulliver will be speaking at National Festival of Making Conference on Thursday 4 May about GRAFT and other case studies to illustrate how they apply design thinking and business thinking to differentiate clients' businesses - details below


Business Innovation for Growth (BIG): Purposeful Practice

Harv Saund
(Autodesk), Lesley Gulliver (Engine Room/Design Council), Simon Bolton (Edge Hill University) and hosted by Richard Slater

in association with Lancashire Business View

The session will examine role of design thinking in driving innovative manufacturing through an examination of case studies including Nike and Plumen.

A panel including internationally acclaimed designer and innovation specialists working with the world’s top brands. more information

Time: 11-1pm
Date: Thursday 4 May
Venue: Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery
Tickets: £6 / £4 Concessions & Creative Lancashire/Creative Industries Federation/members


Members of Creative Lancashire Network & Creative Industries Federation can use the following Code to purchase Tickets at the discounted price of £4: