Thank you for everything you gave the world from design to Spitting Image. You were an inspiration for many aspiring designers and kind enough to take time out of your day to talk to those wanting to know more about your work (in often minute detail).
Rest in peace
I would like to say that I’m heartbroken to see the TV designing legend pass away. I’ve first came across his name when I’ve started visiting the TV presentation websites like TV Ark and The TV Room. Most of your work was brilliant. They don’t make them like this anymore. Martin was the one of the kind and the TV land will be poorer without you.
To Martin’s family. What an incredibly talented man Martin was. As I’m writing this I’m looking at the font and I think… how appropriate.
Never met the man but he made me so interested in idents and presentation. Making things stand out from the crowd seemed to be his aim in life and he did that. He has inspired generations and generations to come.
His legacy will live on beyond any of us. Please take comfort from that. I hope you do. I doubt the Channel 4 logo will ever change. Or even the institution that is the BBC. His incredible skill lives on forever.
Thank you for everything Martin. I am sad you are gone but I’m glad we had you here making the world better forever.
It is a sad loss. Martin had a huge impact on me providing me with my favourite branding from the BBC balloons and twos and the Channel 4 ident from the 80s and 90s. He is a huge inspiration on British artists and is a huge part of British TV cult. He is a huge inspiration.
To an amazing talented and incredibly generous man. Thank you for inspiring and encouraging me to believe in myself. I cherish my time spent with the Lambie-Nairn family – an awesome company filled with love and creativity. You made a huge impact on the world of digital design and will be forever remembered? Thank you for sharing your vision and humour with us all.
I was lucky enough to spend 6 months in the Summer of 1986 working my student placement at Robinson Lambie-Nairn. Despite not working directly with Martin, my memories of him are of a kind, talented and immensely generous man, always ready with a wise word of encouragement. His name will likely remain unknown to many, despite much of his ingenious, inventive and witty work being seen every day by millions in their daily lives. I only wish I still had the battered old leather pilot’s case he used to carry paperwork to meetings in, which he kindly presented to me as one of the leaving gifts at the end of my time at RLN. Many good memories.
Television would look completely different without Martin Lambie-Nairn. It is a testament to his work that some of the 1991 idents for BBC2 – brought back in 2014 – remained on air until 2018, twenty-seven years later.
The TV design work of Martin Lambie-Nairn and his company made some of us grow up anticipating the bits before the programmes, just as much if not more than the programmes themselves. It led to my interest in the broader world of graphic design and branding, and to becoming a huge admirer of his work.
The creative world will be a much poorer place without him.
I met Martin in the early 1970s and worked closely (and socialised) with him off and on for nearly 50 years, often (on Weekend World) well into the early hours of the morning. We never once had a cross word, and every single time we met over all those decades, his face broke into his trademark huge beaming smile. His work speaks for itself, but it’s as a person I’ll remember him… his kindness, his generosity, and that smile. Martin: I loved you. I wish I had said that to you now, but I hope you knew. I think you did. Rest In Peace my dear friend.
I would like to say that as a child of the 90s who has since dedicated his career to creative digital work, Martin will always be one of my fondest inspirations. Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated by the brand identities that Martin was able to imagine and in particular the personalities that followed. In my mind he is almost solely responsible for the acclaim BBC2 has received over the years. The creative world just lost a remarkable contributor. Long may you be remembered.
The saddest news to hear over Christmas. I would like to pass on my sincerest condolences to Cordelia and all the family. The Lambie-Nairn family will always be dear to my heart having worked with Martin and many of his wonderful team over several decades. Martin was known for his BBC and C4 work, but he and his company worked for ITN many times helping bring the brand back to a strong, unified brand and making sure Big Ben with its sweeping hands appeared on all the news programmes on ITV – he knew when you had a strong brand property, use it! Martin was unique. He would not touch a project unless the most senior management were involved as he knew things would unravel unless they were bought in from the beginning. Like others have said though, it wasn’t just his amazing talent but his warmth, wit and bright smile I will always hold dear. I am glad we managed to have a few glasses of wine over a boozy lunch before the horrid year that was 2019 hit. RIP, Martin.
Martin you were a huge talent and inspiration to me. Your talent was only matched by your kindness and generosity to all throughout a glittering career.
My dear Martin, you were my mentor and friend. From the moment I joined Lambie Nairn & Company you warmly welcomed me into what became my extended family. A group of very talented people that made creativity fun and because of you everything seemed possible. I sat opposite you and shared sweets, ideas and created identities beyond my wildest dreams. I remember on day one you said to me that you were awfully busy and wouldn’t have time to train me up, so I would have to be dropped in at the deep end. You also said you trusted me and knew I was capable of producing the work, and that if I needed any help just to ask and you would be there. You were always there for me and for so many others. To be kind and to do the right thing by people was more important to you than anything else. We shared so much creativity and you encouraged me to grow and become all I could be. I remember your laugh, the steak and chips, the red wine and so many great moments we shared. I could go on and on with stories about you. You were like a father to me and I will remember you always, God bless you and your family.
IMO, Martin was the best graphic designer of all time, he has made a lot of my favourite logos, and got me interested in motion graphics; imagine what TV idents would’ve looked like today if he never existed
For me, above all your anecdotes, accolades and acquisitions that were so impressive, I will always remember you as the person who taught me that onomatopoeias are the most powerful means of expression a motion designer has.
But above all, your generosity and joviality to those great and small struck me as your greatest power and by consequence, my greatest inspiration. Thank you
Above all, Martin was the father of the designs that lifted British television from the normal, to the exceptional. He revolutionised the LOOK of television. I work now for one of this elements of television that benefited most from his idea. Channel 4 News was revolutionised by his idea, ideas which sustain to this day. I feel both proud and grateful to be working for one of the elements of television that benefited most from his input.
Thank you Martin, we shall not easily forget what you have done for us all.
Martin designed the first ident for S4C / Channel 4 Wales , which launched a day ahead of C4 in November 1982.
He conceived, typically, a simple but brilliant design solution – waleS4Cymru – which embodied the ethos behind the UK’s first bilingual channel.
He went on to design the channel’s print work, the S4C International brand, and even , with Peter Leonard, the channel’s HQ .
His work looks as vivid and dynamic now as it did nearly 40 years ago.
As a person Martin always had time for you; you were his only client. And a friend with it.
What a guy. Dear Martin – thank you.
In the late 1990´s I was lucky enough to find myself working for Martin, thanks mostly to Sarah Davies. My enduring memory of Martin is of our first meeting, not as I expected an interview in a stylish office or a Soho lunch, but in his inimitable way, a casual invitation to an egg and chips lunch. That workmanlike lunch revealed much about Martin – he really did not appear aware of his professional status and he just did not act like the Boss – he was just wanted creativity to blossom and to enjoy himself in happy company. It was a privilege to have worked for him.
I have so many happy memories, I don’t know where to start.
I arrived fresh-faced and keen in 1980; Martin and Colin having recently moved to new premises in Palace Street, SW1. There followed a whirlwind of activity rushing from London Weekend Television; to the BBC and Channel 4.
Then advertising agencies began knocking on the studio door and a move to larger premises in Gt. Marlborough Street. Martin, as always, right there on the ‘shop floor’, behind his drawing board. We all worked long hours, but the laughs were many and loud!
One of my fondest memories of Martin is the many taxi trips we took together, to attend agency meetings. They were always very stylish places, full of equally stylish, slightly terrifying people with sharp cheekbones and sharper suits. After almost every meeting, as we trotted out of yet another steel and glass citadel, Martin would always break into a trot to hail a black cab and once in the safety of the back seat, would say how lovely it was to work in a studio with his ‘family’ of similarly down-to-earth; if slightly eccentric souls. We used to giggle about it every time.
It was such a special place to work and Martin was such a kind and generous mentor and friend. Ten years went by in the blink of an eye . . .
I will miss your presence in the world, Martin, but your legacy will live on in the astonishing work that you did and the warmth you have left behind in the hearts of those who knew you.
Deepest condolences to Cordelia and your family. God bless.
Amazing to think in the 90s he was responsible for the look of three of the four channels most people had – and even all four in some cases.
Some people may dismiss the importance of idents and continuity but it is no exaggeration to say he designed television as we know it now.
Inspirational. You took what most overlooked, saw the importance of it and made it stand out. An entire industry developed but you were at the start and the heart of it. I never worked in the industry but had I done so my ambition would have been to work with you. There are many that appreciate the work you gave us and always will. Thank you.
A remarkable man. Rest in Peace Martin
There is so much that could be told regarding the one and only Martin. What a talent comes to mind, but also he was such a lovely person. My late husband Glenn Tutssel had the pleasure of working along side Martin for many successful years. The work place was such a happy place due to the hard work, but mostly there was humour, and Martin had bucket loads. Martin could turn a nervous serious pitch into something funny, that would shake off those nerves. He certainly had a gift, but of course his talent and expertise were “Simply the Best” Rest In Peace Martin.
I only had the pleasure of working with Martin for a few months several years ago but that helped shape how I think and talk about brands. His work has shaped our national culture through the brands he brought (back) to life and the quality and magic of the thinking and design.
He was also one of the most delightful, passionate and kind people i’ve worked with in 25 years.
Martin was at the heart of our founding years at Framestore. The person who drove us hardest to achieve excellence and distinction. Those disciplines and words remain with me and my colleagues from those days until now.
Reading the comments made earlier in this book I find they resonate with my experience – kindness, a smile that always welcomed, curiosity and persistence. Jerry Hibbert’s words above struck a real cord that summed up who Martin was and remains in our memories.
A really good person who many of us were lucky to know.
Martin was a colleague and a friend, a man who deserved and got great respect from those who knew him. Not only those whom he worked with but those he worked for and of course those who often pitched against him. I imagined he would always be there to work with again sometime in the future but alas that is not to be. He leaves a great legacy of achievement, a towering presence in his field of expertise. We shall all miss him.
Such sad news. I had the good fortune to work with Martin Lambie-Nairn and Sarah Davies in the 90s. Martin had recognised the need to understand the client’s business and customer/viewers’ behaviour as part of the design process. He took a leap of faith and asked me to work with him and his teams as an account planner out of advertising which at the time was new to the design world. I had the best time working with Martin and learned so much from him and I never cease to tell people about him when I see TV idents. He introduced me and the world to a new form of TV branding and beautiful design. Of all the many people I worked with in advertising and design he always stood out in an industry that can be tough on people. He was kind, down-to-earth, took time with people and always had a great sense of humour which made Lambie-Nairn such a great place to work. I learned so much from him. Martin touched my life and I will always be grateful that I knew him.
My abiding memories of Martin will be of his gracious manner, generosity of spirit and beaming smile. I’ve often wished for the creative clarity that he achieved with a cigar break on the steps of Gt. Marlborough Street.
Rest in Peace Martin.
I will never forget the brilliant work made by Martin. He was responsible for some of British TV’s best ever idents, including the balloon, the twos, the Channel 4 blocks & the 1993 S4C dragon idents, and not forgetting the brilliant idents he helped shape worldwide, like Orange, TVNorge & Arte. Every single ident that Lambie-Nairn made was exceptional, and his idents will always be remembered as some of, if not, the best idents ever shown on British television.
I had the pleasure of starting my 14 year WPP journey at Lambie-Nairn and sat near the great man himself all those years ago. Legend, charismatic, innovative, caring are but a few of the many words that can be used to describe him. He helped me to settle in when i had doubts when i first started and he would always check up on how i was feeling each day. I will forever appreciate the time and effort he took for everyone. It was also a testament that i was aware of his work before i even joined and was lucky to see the great man in action and inspiring a new generation of talented people. Missed but never forgotten. Rest in Peace Martin.
Martin Interviewed me for a job at Robinson Lambie-Nairn in Covent Garden in July 1980
i got the job and went on to work with Martin for 23 years and 1 month.
What can i say about Martin i could fill up a book of words with all our brilliant experiences
and good times we had creating all those amazing jobs that came out of Lambie-Nairn and Company.
It was a creative roller coaster ride, we had no fear of pushing things to the limit, it just needed hard work and dedication to get the projects over the line and looking Brilliant.
Martin it was an amazing journey and an honour to be your colleague but more importantly to be your friend.
All my condolences to Cordelia and your family.
Martin was a kind and great guy who left a legacy in a field where most do not. He will be missed by many including me.
Martin you were the best boss ever.
I had the honour of being part of the Lambie-nairn family for over 11 happy years in the late 80s/early 90s.
You had the knack of making me feel an important part of any production we tackled. (Usually it was something which was “cutting edge” in terms of the technology that was available!) However, we always got there in the end: resulting in a happy Client and a great piece of work.
This was because you totally trusted me and any of your team at all times, which made for a very enjoyable place to work.
Rest in peace Martin and my condolences to Cordelia and the rest of the family.
Such sad news to end 2020 on. Martin Lambie-Nairn was a remarkable man and a true inspiration who fuelled my interest for television and commercial branding, via the presentation and idents he and his company conceived. Television would look very different without the iconic Channel 4 logo, BBC Two ‘2’, BBC One’s balloon and dancers and the revolutionary looks for BBC News which continue to be used today – not to mention the other brands he shaped for the better such as O2 and Sainsbury’s, and his work on Spitting Image. I never got to meet you sadly, but you were an inspiring man whose legacy will live forever. Rest in peace Martin, hope you’re enjoying an original lunch up there.
Farewell brilliant, smart, warm, rebellious Martin, the epitome of integrity and authenticity. You taught me about branding and the vital blend of magic and logic. I worked with you throughout my Marketing career notably at the Millennium Experience, and many times at the BBC. You were a strong and galvanising partner when I was a young client trying to do the right thing in the Wild West of branding at the Dome but your iconic yellow masts still grace the O2 today. Another lesser known example of the longevity of your vision and ideas alongside the iconic C4 logo and the BBC blocks. RIP Martin Lambie-Nairn, design legend and thoroughly lovely man. My sincere condolences to Cordelia and the family,
Not only was Martin a true genius but one of the nicest bosses I have had the pleasure to work for always encouraging you to think differently.
Always willing to help you, always smiling, one of the true great gents.
Rest in peace Martin.
I was so lucky to be in Martin’s orbit early on in my career in BBC promotions, where I got to watch him in action and learn so much as a relatively junior creative. Later on as a Creative Director we got to fully collaborate on the identity for BBC Knowledge, and BBC ONE amongst others. He was an inspirational, occasionally incorrigible and always hugely entertaining presence whether at meetings or on location for shoots – several of the BBC ONE Dance idents particularly memorably. Over the subsequent years I loved our occasional lunches together, and viewed every kind word he would say to me as worth a hundred awards. He would be infuriated by clients who wouldn’t listen to experts in their field, but he practised what he preached, and trusted his creative colleagues and collaborators with fierce loyalty – in particular being a great champion of young talent. Ultimately he created the modern version of the industry so many of us are lucky enough to call home, and very few people in any walk of life get to say that. RIP Martin. Artist, friend, legend.
Martin and Sarah created the look and feel of everything we did at EBN back in the late 90s and despite being a ‘small satellite channel’ and a relatively small piece of business – they cared. We punched miles above our weight because of them and their desire to create impact and influence behaviours and that I will always be grateful. I didn’t know him well but his influence and impact were profound across our industry and that’s a wonderful legacy to leave. Rest in peace Martin.
Memories of Martin provide some of the highlights of my professional career. International projects together provided adventures, laughter and the privilege of an on-the-road master class from the most inspiring creative visionary working in brand identity. Martin’s combination of infectious irreverence, kindness and unstinting industry was unique. I will always be grateful to you. With sympathy and condolences to your family and loved ones.
Martin was one of the kindest and most generous people I’ve ever known. In an ego-driven world full of cut and thrust, he did his exceptional work on his terms: with humanity and humour. He always had time for everyone and helped those around him believe in themselves.
He was a giant of a human being who will live on in all of us who were lucky enough to have known him. And to those closest to Martin, I’m so sorry for your loss.
Martin’s death came as a great shock to me. I went back a long way with him as we both joined the BBC Graphic Design Department at the same time, and shared a studio together. Even in those early days, Martin had a unique presence and an enviable ability to communicate his ideas. Later, having both left the BBC we became competitors. I set up a design partnership with Jon Blair, Producer of Spitting Image and himself a big fan of Martin. We pitched against him many times and we quickly learned how good he actually was. Martin’s great insight was to realise that branding theory developed by the advertising industry, could be applied to broadcast television, a novel approach at the time which he pioneered. Hence his presentations always let with a design strategy, rather than design alone and the strategy was always brilliant. This combined with his natural charm, knowledge, sense of confidence and an ability to spot talent was a winning formula. It enabled him to produce wonderful work and he rightly become the industry leader. He genuinely changed the look of television and his influence was felt world-wide. I would like to send my condolences to his family and commiserate with the many friends we shared in common.
I first met Martin when working alongside Pam Masters on the launch of Channel Four and the introduction of those iconic idents to the viewing public.
Some years later, at British Satellite Broadcasting, we commissioned Martin and his team to create the overall branding – resulting in a spectacular series of on-screen identities for the five channels of this new satellite service.
After a few more years, our paths crossed again when Martin created the inspirational typographical logo, and a family of individual idents for Carlton Television. That was followed some years later by the branding and a series of whimsical idents for The Business Channel.
What an honour and privilege it was to have worked with this creative genius over the years. Kind, and gentle, he was held in the greatest affection, respect, and esteem by all who knew him. He was without doubt a creative giant in the world of TV channel branding and on-screen identity. Martin has left an indelible stamp on UK television, and he will be greatly missed by all those who like me, hugely enjoyed the company of an exceptional friend. My heartfelt condolences to Cordelia and the family.
Dear Martin, everyone in the design and media world will never forget you. What a designer, what a strategist, and what a human being…..and what a huge legacy you have left behind.
I had the privilege of joining Martin just as Robinson Lambie-Nairn won the commission for the iconic C4 identity, and over the 3 years I worked there, he was always supportive, clever and warm., with a great sense of humour. He knew a good idea when he saw one, and often scrapped client presentations at the last minute because he sensed we could do better.
One of the things I shall never forget is Martin walking up and down the studio playing the bagpipes, to keep us all awake while we did all-nighters on the C4 identity. Playing them with a wry smile, it was classic Martin.
On a professional front, he was a massive influence on my career, so much so that he inspired me to start rival agency English Markell Pockett after working with him as senior broadcast designer for 3 years. This friendly rivalry produced phenomenal award-winning work on both sides, and also encouraged many new broadcast design studios to start up as a result.
RIP great man, we will all miss you. Condolences to Cordelia and the family.
I have been thinking about Martin so much.
I think the first edit I did for him was nearly 40 years ago and I have worked with him on and off ever since. So he has been a major presence pretty much all of my working life.
He always managed to make you feel like an equal, a co-conspirator and above all a friend.
Yet his talent and quest for perfection was truly inspiring, I learnt so much from him.
Thank you Martin and good bye.
Perhaps it was our shared taste in tartan, but Martin was always generous with his time and advice when I knocked on his door at various times in my career. His encouragement and nurturing of talent young and older is an example I have tried to follow. Thank you. He is a giant in our industry’s ‘rock family tree’ from which many branches have flourished.
Condolences to his family, and colleagues,
Dignified, inspirational and a true gentleman. It was a pleasure to work with him during his tenure as Channel Four Creative Consultant. His legacy will long live on. Condolences to the family and many friends.
Martin is as iconic and memorable as his work. Beautiful, genius and lasting. As a world, we will not have much chance to miss such an epic legacy and positive impression. As individuals, we will miss him greatly. A true character, a truly original talent that ultimately stemmed from a very truthful soul. Looks like the signage on the pearly gates is about to get a brilliant new look. Thank you Martin Lambie-Nairn. It is a pleasure to know and remember you always.
I appreciate having known Martin in a number of ways: in understanding the value of bringing wit into work – and into the work itself; in seeing how to stick up for big ideas – and how to invest time into nurturing them too; in learning how use the latest technology to make things feel more human; and in observing how being decent and having values creates value in and of itself.
In the mid/late 80’s we inadvertently set Martin a challenge. To track and composite heatwave lines onto live action footage (an Electricity Council TV ad) shot on Steadicam, with actors moving in frame. Our (my) communication skills might have been better. We had been talking locked off shots. Needless to say, and fortunately for me Martin calmly rose to this somewhat unexpected ‘challenge’, and of course delivered some rather special effects. I learnt a lot, and got away with it! I was also fortunate to commute up to London with him occasionally. Always easy to chat to I remember once asking him whether there might be the chance of some work experience for my son Ben at Lambie-Nairn. He asked whether I might be able to reciprocate and arrange something for his daughter in an Ad Agency. These two things never quite happened, but Ben, as it transpired, got himself an interview at Lambie-Nairn at a later date. He very much enjoyed his year there, and needless to say learnt loads. He is now a Senior Graphic Designer at ITV. So we both have much to thank you for Martin. It was a privilege to have known you, to have worked with you, and to have learnt from you.
I sat opposite Martin for 6 months while on my student placement in 1986. He and the company he created made a huge impression on me. Designing moving images could be fun, buzzy, witty, exciting and ground-breaking. His generosity and genuine enthusiasm are an enduring memory of those times. Our paths occasionally crossed at Cal Video, SVC and Cell Animation. He was always a delight to encounter. His contribution and influence on design speaks for itself. Martin, it was a pleasure to have met you.
I was deeply saddened to hear of Martin’s passing. His immense creative talent was matched by his great kindness. He was a true gentleman. It was a privilege to work for him within a business which, for so many, was more like a family. It felt like we were part of something truly great.
As a token of thanks for the time I spent in the business and the tutelage he gave me, I bought Martin a bottle of whisky which, in turn, he wrote to thank me for! He wrote that to be a kind person is what makes the difference between being a good designer and a great designer. Words which have stayed with me, as has the letter.
Thanks for everything Martin. We will all miss you dearly.
Dear Martin, it was such an honour and a delight to be able to work with you during my time with the Lambie-Nairn family in the 1990s. You taught me so much… not just about design, but how to work as part of a team, where even the youngest and most inexperienced member is valued and respected and every project is important, no matter the size or budget. Your outstanding creative talents made you into the designer who changed the face of TV graphics but it was your kindness and infectious smile that made you such a joy to know. We shared a tartan, being from the same Scots Clan, and we also shared many laughs, tense moments and triumphs with the rest of the Lambie-Nairn family; some of the happiest memories I have. Thank you for being such a beautiful and unique human being and a wonderful boss, may you rest in peace. Condolences to Cordelia and the family.
Early days at Framestore, and I had the good fortune of working with Martin and his wonderful team on the groundbreaking BBC idents.
It was the first time I had encountered a project that was Top Secret, so it was quite exciting to know that I was working on something that probably everyone in the country would see at some point.
The attention to detail was mind-boggling – I can’t tell you how many iterations of the “we apologise for the temporary break in transmission” card I had to do before Martin would sign it off, but I knew I was in the presence of (unassuming) greatness, so I didn’t mind one bit.
I can’t think of anyone I would rather have had standing over me, while presenting his beautiful designs back to him.
Like many people, I learnt a lot from him, even without realising it at the time.
And like everyone else has said, a lovely lovely man to top it all off.
To have commissioned Martin to re-brand S4C in the early 90’s was a privilege, and a journey where I learnt so much from being in the company of a creative genius.
He once told me when the implementation wasn’t quite going to plan “Aled, it’s not worth putting your career at risk for the sake of a 7 second ident”. And how true were his words as the brand once launched, went on to win numerous international awards.
Diolch Martin, for your wisdom and vision.
Martin Lambie-Nairn, the genius behind the first piece of media I remember. As a very small child I developed a strange and strong fascination with the 1991 BBC 2 idents, which led me down a rabbit hole that I’m still exploring to this day. My lifelong love of graphic design was born out of this mans’ vision, and to hear of his passing was truely heartbreaking.
One of a kind, there’s no mistaking a ML-N from anything else in the industry. A man who just ‘got’ branding. Gone but certainly not forgotten.
I am very saddened to hear that Martin has passed away. He has always been a huge influence and inspiration to me since we first worked together on the launch of BBC News24 and the creation of the BBC ribbons. I hadn’t branded a channel before then, but Martin was trusting, kind, supportive – and bursting with energy! I will never forget all the good-humoured office banter from those days and all the things I learned from Martin and his brilliant teams. He was special, and he made Lambie-Nairn a very special place indeed. I am sure I am only one of many who feel forever in his debt and truly blessed to have known him. To those I know well and who have always remained in the creative orbit of this wonderful man with his brilliant, Big Ideas: Jason, Celia, Tom, Sarah, Phil – I am so very sorry for your loss. Martin was proud of you all.
To Cordelia and family, please accept my deepest condolences.
You are all in my thoughts.
Truly one of the most generous spirited people I have ever met.
You will be sorely missed.
From 1985 when I first met Martin, through several BBC internal rebrands in the1990s and having worked for him in 2008, I can honestly say I was so fortunate to have spent so much time getting to know the real Martin – cheeky, thoughtful, engaging and hugely endearing. A true nurturer. I still can’t believe such an icon for all designers has gone. I won’t ever forget his kind words and advice. Fly higher Martin.
It was so sad to hear of your passing. You had such strong faith, that must be why you chose Jesus’s birthday to say goodbye. Your great gift to everyone was your open, kind, generous and always genuine spirit. You taught me never to leave my personality at home. As one of your ‘business getters’ for some years, I used to always say “why don’t we call your friend so and so”. Your response nine times out of ten was “No, they won’t be interested”. Now I read your book of condolences and I think we should have !
Rest in peace Martin, you will be missed.
Martin was a true gentleman…and wonderful man…..his sense of humour when I worked with him on LWT’s flag ship Programme “Weekend World, was memorable, timely and apt…never more so than one of the few times I work along side with him, preparing the many the “cardboard” pull graphics the programme. It was a time of pressure and deadline more so because everything had to be ready for 9 am live transmission at 9 am Sunday morning. To calm us both down, one weekend, chose to parade up and down the graphics studio playing his Bagpipes….. whilst I carried on rubbing the letraset onto the card board pulls….the pipe sounds pierced the stillness of the night …..no one stirred from the surrounding offices, except one solitary security man doing his hourly walk a round….it was absolutely hilarious to see this man rushing in…… I met Martin many many years later when out of the blue he payed a visit to Granada Liverpool…..he was no stranger but my friend who I knew as “Martin,” he shook my hand and beamed his great smile……..but to onlookers he was….Martin Lambie Nairn, the one and only Great Designer……who I knew.
I can’t believe I am talking about Martin in the past tense. He was a force of nature, a visionary and above all a very lovely man. He leaves behind a legacy that is unlikely to be matched and has forever changed the face of broadcast.
Wishing Martin’s family a long life.
A kind, generous and extraordinarily talented man.
Very glad to have had the privilege of working for him.
Goodby Martin, I still can’t quite believe you’re gone.
You inspired me to become a Graphic Designer, then I was lucky enough to get to work with you. I had the honour of working with you for 13 years. Your work was always brilliant and speaks for itself, you helped create the industry that we all now work in. To me, you were always humble, kind and incredibly generous with your time, even when you knew I was doing something wrong, which was fairly often.
You were a true inspiration, a mentor, a constant guide and a friend. I will miss you massively, I guess I took for granted that you’d always be around.
My love goes out to Cordelia and family at this terribly sad time.
Thank you Martin, our time together—albeit brief—will be with me forever. I will always be reminded of your spirit, your tough as nails approach, but most importantly the positive and motivating energy you inspired within me. You taught me how to trust myself. I will never forget that.
I spent 6 wonderful summer months with the design family at RLN in Great Marlborough St. in 1985. My first real experience of work and one that was unbeatable. I remember it like it was yesterday. Those 6 months were invaluable great fun and worth years at Uni. I also remember very clearly screwing up one job quite dramatically and worrying all weekend about the consequences. The following Monday I went downstairs to the conference room, terrified. Martin said to me ” Dear Boy, it wasn’t your fault, how can it be, you’re not in charge.” I tried to make that something of a mantra throughout my career. His kindness and interest in voices however small was an inspiration. I wish I had taken the time to call I’m and thank Martin, and of course Phil, Sara, Anna and the gang. Truly wonderful times!
I first met Martin way back in the early 1970s – we met through Cordelia when she and I were both working for a small PR agency. Martin was, with Colin Robinson, in the process of setting up Robinson Lambie-Nairn. I started helping them with boring money stuff and it proved to be the beginning of nearly 30 years of working with, and for, Martin. We became good friends too, sharing our mutual experience of adoption.
Martin’s genius and talent of which many have written eloquently, was slowly recognised by me as I plodded away doing the accounts, paying the salaries and dealing with the bank! But two things were obvious to me: the first was the essence of Martin – his kindness, his generosity of spirit, his sense of humour and the way in which he treated everybody alike -from runners and receptionists to the great and the good. And secondly his ability to recruit not only talented people but people that were also fun to know and work with. Together with a small close-knit team Martin built an amazing company – which I was proud and lucky to be part of. To this day it remains one of the happiest workplaces I have ever come across.
RIP Martin – you’ve left a fantastic legacy
Martin was a genuinely kind, patient and lovely man. He showed me an act of kindness that set me on the right path. He will be sadly missed. Rest in peace.
I worked with Martin across the span of fifty years.
In the Seventies, in the era of cardboard captions, a scruffy unkempt Martin branded Weekend World. Then he created the whole look/feel of the modern BBC. Latterly we worked together on a pro bono project.
Martin was a unique blend of intellect and imagination: he could dig deep into any concept, yet in a leap of magic produce an entirely appropriate visual identity to crystallise it. He was also a real toughie; and once he had made up his mind he was unafraid stubbornly but with a sweet smile to stand uncompromisingly by his concept. And, in my experience, Martin was always right!
British branding is best in class; and Martin is its Godfather. His legacy will live on.
Farewell, Martin, and thank you.
I can be very proud to say that I was a part of the Lambie-Nairn professional family. My first ever job within the creative design industry was with his fantastic agency ‘Lambie-Nairn Directors’, back in 1996. It really set the standards by which I continue to build upon. A true inspiration up until this day and always. Thank you, Martin.
You know your life has just been changed when a ‘supposedly’ old man of broadcast television is introduced but what you feel is the sheer brilliance and youthful energy of Martin fill the room and all but consume you. You realize what you knew till that moment as branding and design is going to be redefined forever. You start looking at the world of design through new eyes, Martin’s eyes, and it’s the most wondrous place full of possibilities where anything can spring to life, take form and speak to people hearts & minds. But, when you hear the saddest news of the year that Martin’s no more, you know deep down that it’s not true and that Martin’s legacy will always live within you and a million other people he touched and the zillions of screens he lit up!
Here’s celebrating the phenomenon that was Martin, gone too soon… but sure won’t be keeping calm but sparking the heavens up there.
It’s so so sad that the world no longer exists with Martin Lambie-Nairn in it.
I feel both a deep sense of loss and a sense of privilege that I could call him my friend, mentor, boss and colleague.
His huge talent, constant humour and most of all his amazingly kind nature will be so sadly missed by all.
My heart goes out to the wonderful wife and family he leaves behind. My thoughts are with you Cordelia, Fenn, Van and Flavia.
Martin was my external examiner back in 1990, and hired me from my degree show. Starting a career at Lambie-Nairn that was to last some 14 years. Loving and learning everyday by his side. I subsequently worked alongside Martin on many projects in the years that followed. Goodness knows, without him I might still be searching for a job…
Miss you Martin x
One of the nicest people you will ever meet. He let us squat in his office in the early days of VCCP and was nothing but supportive and kind to all of us. Not one of his staff had a bad word to say of him and he cared deeply about all of them.
He was a genuinely funny man who saw the best in everything and everyone. His iconic work will live on and and he will be sorely missed. Rest in peace.
Martin and I first met in the mid-nineties.
We were both speaking at a student event. I was only a few years into self-employment and was nervously catastrophising over my over-full carousel of underwhelming projects.
Meanwhile Martin had brought precisely ZERO slides. He simply stood up and told stories about his work. Even then each of his projects were firmly embedded into our collective psyche and each illustrated his tell-tale traits of unnerving simplicity, bullet-proof logic and compelling creativity.
And as we now look back over his milestone projects, from the ground-breaking computer graphics of the Channel 4 launch to his reinvention of the BBC ‘2’, to the ever-moving BBC1 balloon, those three tenets hold every time.
He had a laser-like ability to cut through the noise that inevitably encircles big branding projects. Twenty years ago his researchers discovered that mobile phones were becoming as essential as house keys or a wallet. Now, for many of us that’s pretty obvious – albeit not obviously useful. But for Martin this propelled a creative ‘jump’ into the other essentials of life – water, food, oxygen – which in turn inspired the 02 brand. When asked to help out on HSBC’s brand, he simply took the vast and seemingly unwieldy problem back to his kitchen table then returned days later with the obvious solution. Simple, logical, creative. Do you see the pattern?
Of course the danger to ideas as reductionist as these are the committees who judge them – hardwired to meddle and muddle, to complicate, not congratulate. So Martin’s other great skill was his ability to stand up, take the flak and charm people into submission. He would proudly tell me tales of facing up to hundreds of BBC staff who wanted to pull him into tiny pieces because of his creative suggestions. As with Wolff and Olins, Fletcher, Minale and McConnell, Martin was part of a generation that learned to survive, even thrive in the boardroom – and showed us all the way.
Like many greats, he was instrumental in nurturing the next generation through the various iterations of Lambie-Nairn companies, still teaching into his seventies, still inspiring others as he did with Fluck, Law and Spitting Image. He was also was miles ahead of many others in describing his work as ‘brand identity’ – a term now universally acknowledged decades later. And the work itself is often timeless. Channel Four? Still in use 40 years later. 02? Approaching its 20th birthday. Even the recent BBC2 refresh harks back to what Martin began in the nineties.
His mantlepiece must have been splendid – a ‘black’ pencil for Channel 4 and multiple yellow pencils for his BBC work. In 1991 he was D&AD’s President, then received its highest prize, the President’s Award, a few years later. But in characteristically ‘Martin’ good-humour he once admitted to me that he was glad he’d been President relatively early – because it ‘didn’t involve much actual work back then’.
And that happy, story-telling Martin is the one I’ll remember most. He once told me about a key Channel Four presentation when they were down to the last two. Up against a much bigger and long-established competitor, his fledgling company plastered the room with ideas to demonstrate their hunger and desire to do the job.
He even told me that they put ideas on the ceiling. Now it turns out that he MIGHT have been stretching the truth there, just a little bit. But, for the sake of a great story, and a great man, I forgive him.
We were incredibly grateful for Martin’s generosity of spirit to openly welcome us as we started VCCP. Not only allowing us to share his office but to develop the O2 brand together.
His creativity , his warmth , his sense of humour – he was like a godfather to us.
Rest in peace Martin
It was an honour and a privilege to be a client of Martin and to work with him on a project.
His brand-defining work for the BBC, ITN and Channel Four has rightly been highlighted but there were lesser-known projects. One of them was EuroNews, a multi-lingual channel without presenters and therefore, it seemed, inevitably without an identity and a future. In 1998, he and his team, working with Sue Inglish of ITN, transformed the on-air look of the channel with a brilliant design. Today the channel broadcasts in 13 languages and is available in 166 countries.
It was with enormous sadness I heard the news about Martin. Nick Welch and I met him in the eighties just after he’d created the first Channel 4 Idents. We were trying to do an Animated Smarties TV Ad and, long before any one used the expression “cgi”, we were lucky enough to choose Martin to Directed our Ad. In truth I fell in love with him almost at first sight. His disarming, confident look directly at you was bursting with honesty and passion. He was a giant in the business creating every TV ident that was any good. He even helped create Spitting Image. We became firm friends and we did a print Ad with him for Campaign Portfolio when we were at BBH. It has him standing on two copies of the book with the headline. ‘How did Martin get so big?” The truthful answer was he had the biggest heart. He was full of kindness and integrity and is a great loss to our business. And an even greater loss to Cordelia and family. RIP. ML N.❤️
Only Smarties have the answer. A Memory of Martin Lambie Nairn
A bustling figure of great originality and character Martin Lambie Nairn was best known for his work on Channel 4 and BBC idents which revolutionised the way people identified with brands. He was blessed with a ruthless clarity of vision which could be bought to bear on whatever the matter in hand.
I first came across him in the late 1980s when I was working for ad agency JWT and with art director Billy Mawhinney had come up with an idea for a TV commercial for smarties that was fine and somewhat liked but quite frankly we had no idea how it was to be made. A series of questions were posed as Smarties flew around in various impossible situations all tied up with the end line – Only Smarties have the answer. Standard animation could have produced something, but not of any interest.
Billy dragged me off at some stage to a graphic design exhibition and while we were there we saw some of Martins work and also more importantly met Martin. A somewhat coded conversation ensued – could he do his computer magic thing with ovals or coloured beans? Yes he said, and the game was on.
I still remember the excitement of viewing his first rough sketches and realising that this impossible idea of Smarties flying around could be made real and remarkable.
I seem to think that Martin was brilliant at a first meeting with the client – always a difficult moment. Not a showman, he presented the proposals with mild aplomb and more importantly with enormous and thoughtful conviction. The clients pushed back as they do and I realised that there was a steely core to Martin.
There was no argument, but the clients just seemed to realise the strength and truth of his views and we got the go ahead. It has to be said that everyone was terribly excited by the whole notion of the new -fangled computer generation, and were in general keen to give the green light to the project.
As I recall the way computer animation worked in those days was a bit like knitting. Martin and his team would produce every 7th frame of the action and then the computer would be left to fill in or knit the other six and so on and so forth – are you with me?
At an early stage of this we went to see some initial footage that was most disappointing. Billy and I were already contemplating disaster when Martin steamed in. The techie said that was all that the program could do. In that case said Martin, we’re going to need another program. And so we got one – that’s how it worked back then..
Later in this process Martin had to come and say that things were not going as fast as he had hoped. Apparently if they left the computer to its own knitting devices overnight it would crash, but if someone was delegated to sit with it during the wee small hours it behaved perfectly. I seem to remember feeling oddly comforted by this.
It also became increasingly apparent that computer animation had an implicit notion of speed attached to it, which in those days was not true and may well be still the case.
After some months the clients were understandably becoming alarmed, after all, wasn’t computer animation supposed to be instant?
Martin stuck to his knitting with tenacious confidence but our TV producer Simon Wells had to fend off a number of increasingly anxious clients and agency personnel as the timelines drifted.
In the end a very fine piece of work was delivered, and delightfully as a result of the nature of its construction almost impossible to tinker with. There was still the music to be done and while this was our territory Martin quite rightly remained very much involved. We considered groovy George Kranz who had produced a cult single called Trommeltanze (aka Din Da Da) and may have spoken to Hans Zimmer, just a talented left field jingle man in those days- ho hum. Martin just nodded without conviction.
Then Jeremy Healey came out of Hayzee Fantasey to produce the winning track and then went on to run one of the biggest clubs in Ibiza-ho hum.
The commercial did well, sold Smarties, won awards and was seen as a bit of a breakthrough. In fact it won a major prize for animation in Paris and we all went over to receive the award and a cash prize. Though the award was really for Martin the cheque was for some reason handed to me, and I foolishly gave it back to the folk for safe keeping.
Of course we never saw it again but on the strength of it we had a rather extravagant and jolly dinner at the Brasserie Flo with Martin and his producer Sarah Davies.
Subsequent to the success of the TV ad, posters were required, and Martin remained, as was his wont, involved and contributing some of his graphic magic to our concepts .
Martin was not a person to walk away from something. He stuck with a project until he felt that there was no more he could usefully add. He might well walk away if he felt that things were not going in the right direction, but this should not be seen as petulance but a result of his personal clarity of vision and commitment to his convictions, which were normally but not always right
In later years I worked for him at his much expanded operation where he had become de facto creative director of the BBC. I’m sure this was of enormous irritation to many in the corporation, but these people seemed to have failed to present the BBC in any relevant or meaningful fashion and so could only tut on the sidelines.
I seem to think that I worked on some ident ideas for BBC2 but I fear my proposals were too narrative based and possibly complex. Martin had a clear eye for the simple tiny thing that could be dramatically presented to great effect.
Always bustling, always on the case, bright as a button, the end line of our commercial might seem have some relevance to him – Only Smarties have the answer.
I just wanted to say how very very sad I was to hear about Martin. He was such a phenomenal man, kind and funny and creative and clever. And the most fabulous boss! My memories of him and my very happy years with Lambie-Nairn have come flooding back. So many times trekking up to the BBC for another meeting. Hours spent tucked away in the meeting room working on the book. My first Christmas lunch where I sat next to him as the new temp and he was so friendly and welcoming. We all worked so hard in the company and I think it was because you knew you were working for the best. He will be so missed. My heartfelt love to his family.
I was so deeply saddened and shocked to hear the news that Martin died on Christmas Day. Martin was a genius. He designed so many of the most iconic brand properties and idents in British broadcasting including the beautiful globe balloons for BBC One, those fabulous and iconic early 1990s BBC Two idents, and, before that, the memorable launch of BBC Breakfast Time and the sensationally successful launch logo for Channel 4.
In 2008, Martin and I led a massive BBC-wide project to launch an extensive family of idents, titles and sets across the whole of BBC journalism: Network TV news; Nations and Regions news programmes; Global services including all BBC World Service outlets; even extending to BBC News audio idents for radio. It was a monumental creative task that brought coherence and connection to ALL the BBC’s journalism for the first time. The design was outstanding and the basis for all the ident properties that still remain today, some twelve years on. It was a fantastic team with Chris Gottlieb and Richard Addy at the Beeb and Celia Chapman and Anna Gorman at Lambie-Nairn coming together as the engine room of the project. But Martin was the godfather of it all and his extraordinary visual imagination, his determination, his stubbornness and steel, and his clever, persuasive behaviour with sometimes difficult, challenging teams, won through. Martin told me just a few weeks ago that, in terms of scope, he felt it was the agency’s biggest challenge of all. We were all so proud of the end result and the consultation across all the different departments and programme teams changed the culture of collaboration across BBC journalism forever.
He was wise, funny, cheeky, subversive, unbelievably talented and utterly inspirational.
He is rightly acclaimed for having redefined television brand identity design, being the first to embrace computer technologies to apply branding to screen-based media. He was also a beautiful man – small physically but an absolute giant in terms of creativity, collaboration, ambition and drive. We remained good mates and, indeed, had been in touch together just before Christmas to arrange a lunch in the new year, lockdown restrictions permitting.
God bless him. RIP ML-N.
Martin was not only a brilliant designer, an outstanding leader and a man with great ideas he was also one of the most likeable men you could meet. It is difficult to believe that he is no longer with us. I first met him at LWT in the seventies when he worked day and night to create his business which, of course, became incredibly successful. He probably had more influence over the look of British television than any other single individual and he did it all with great humour. He’ll be much missed.
I was shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of Martin over the Christmas period, my deepest condolences to Cordelia and family.
I first became aware of Martin and his work around about 1990. I had a book whilst at design college entitled ‘Corporate Identity’. Amongst all the great corporate identity projects displayed in this book, one company’s work stood out. It was just so different from the rest. Those two pages of work inspired me like nothing else. By chance or fate, a few year later I was working closely with Martin on developing brand identities for some of the world’s biggest brands.
Working with Martin was, above all else, fun. Sometimes there were late nights (always with a glass of red), sometimes there were tough problems to crack, but as Martin would say ‘We’ll get there in the end’. He was a thoroughly decent human being with a cracking sense of humour. A pleasure to be around.
Martin’s genius was his ability to create clarity out of confusion. To navigate his way around a problem in an oblique manner, that somehow made complete and utter sense. These abilities are rare and timeless, evident in his long and illustrious career.
Martin – pioneer, boss, mentor & friend. Cysgwch yn dawel, you will be missed. X
Your warmth, kindness, humour and generosity were enough to set you apart from most. As a ‘runner’ in the late 90’s, I witnessed the confidence you inspired in the creatives and the familial atmosphere that bonded L-N. And as for your creative talent, like all Great Masters, your legacy will live on.
A brilliantly talented man who changed the face of British television. He always made me laugh and was a joy to work with. Rest in peace Martin.
I had heard the sad news through the LN network, many of which I still regard as close friends, family almost. Surely this is testament to who Martin was and how he led us – with generosity, humility and with humour. He really was one of the good guys.
As my teacher and mentor, Martin provided the foundation for my professional life to grow as it did. I owe so much to my time under his guidance. I still hold many of Martin’s principles as my own. Simple will always be smarter and there are actually only seven typefaces that are any good.
I have also always used the same sentiment with every designer that has left my team as Martin wrote to me when I finally decided to leave LN – ‘Be Great!’ he wrote.
So if I may, as you leave us Martin, where ever you are, Be Great!
With much love,
Good bye Martin,
I admired your work,
I loved you as an inspirational speaker and such an empathetic personality.
It has been fantastic and joyful to meet you and hear all of your creative stories. You have been such a great storyteller. Laughing with you was so easy.
In 2000 the Eyes & Ears family was proud to honour you with the Eyes & Ears Excellence Award. We will miss you. We will help to keep your legacy.
You were/are everything that everyone is saying and more. You were/are on my Worktalk charity board and, over the many years, you made us look fantastic, but most of all you were/are a dear, dear friend and I loved you like an older brother.
You will be remembered for your many idents but the most profound ident that you left for me is inscribed on my heart. “Goodbye my dear,” as you used to say…
Martin, your reputation preceded you when you came into CAL in 1984 and we started working together. I had recently left the BBC and the world was starting to go digital.
I think that first project was a Smarties commercial. The edit went on so long you and Sarah left me to it. And as was the case many times over the years that followed, you made me feel part of your team. Your were always so kind, thoughtful and never lost your patience. We all enjoyed the creative and technical challenges you brought us and you always managed to get the best out of everyone. I’m certain Rob, Tim and Karl all learnt so much from you too, and your quest for perfection meant we always pulled out all the stops.
I was very touched on more than one occasion when you said “I’ve got this commercial which isn’t really my sort of thing – do you want to direct it?” – and handed over the complete production.
When I joined SVC our friendship continued as did even more amazing projects and I met more colleagues, now dear friends who had also been caught under your spell.
I always wanted to work with and learn from the best Martin and you certainly ticked those boxes.
It is the end of an era.
Martin, I can truly say I am honoured to have known you.
I was so sad and shocked to hear the very sad news about Martin over Christmas.
I was lucky enough to work with Martin for over 8 years and apart from being a legend in the design world, he was probably one of the kindest and most admirable leaders in our business.
Because of Martin, Lambie-Nairn became a brilliant, creative agency which felt very much like a family, and that culture he created and nurtured continues to live on in ‘Lambie-Nairn’ people today.
He wanted unrivalled creativity, smart thinking and the very best from people, and he achieved this and more by treating everyone with respect, kindness and empathy. It didn’t matter if you were the new junior temp or the most senior member of the team, everyone felt valued and part of the Lambie-Nairn family.
It feels like the end of an era.
We’ll truly miss you Martin.
My biggest memory of Martin is what a lovely man he was. And of course so talented. I was lucky enough to work with him at Lambie-Nairn and we had some adventures in Washington together. And I will never forget the afternoon tea party we attended together at Buckingham Palace. A huge loss to everyone that loved the man and the designer.
I was truly, truly saddened at this news. Martin was a very special person. Clever and creative, yes, but also inspirational, not just with his ideas but also with his warmth, humour and humanity. He was one of those very rare people who made you feel like a real friend the minute you met him.
Back in about1983, having recently joined Hedger Mitchell Stark, I briefed Martin to design an ident/end device for our InterCity TV commercials. He, Phil and Sarah answered it brilliantly, turning a vague, verbal suggestion into a thing of wonder. They’d proposed using computers to help make the animation work smoothly, something nobody else was doing back then. It was exciting but very scary at the same time. But I’ll never forget how, during the client presentations, Martin’s charm, relaxed confidence and humour overcame all kinds of awkward client doubts and concerns. In an industry full petulance and rampant egos, it was a life lesson being played out before me.
My condolences to all his family and to everyone who had the very good fortune to work with him and for him.
As my late chairman Marcello Minale always used to say ‘less is more’ that to me sums up Martin approach to life, great ideas and beautiful design solutions.
May he rest in peace, heart felt condolences to all the family.
I don’t think Kemistry would ever have existed if it wasn’t for Martin pioneering the art of television branding. He without a doubt set the bar and gold standard for those of us that followed. My sincere condolences to his family and friends. He will be greatly missed.
Martin was an inspiration for so many because he took the time to encourage, teach and inspire anyone he worked with regardless of age or experience. I was always amazed at his lack of ego. He was a giant of design, but willing to trust raw and untried talent with some massive high-profile projects and fight their corner. I was lucky enough to get swept up and taken for the exhilarating ride along with his fantastically talented team of designers, directors and producers. A magical time – thank you for my career Martin, blessed to have met and worked with you.
Sincere condolences to Cordelia and the family and to Sarah, Debbie, Celia, Phil, Daniel et al.
Rest in peace Martin (with the opera on full blast), your work will live forever.
I have been very saddened by the passing of Martin.
We met during a negotiation of a project and we stayed in touch for a number of years both professionally and personally.
I feel fortunate to have been exposed to his creative professionalism and to have enjoyed his clever humor. Martin was a beautiful person. I know I’ll miss him.
Robinson Lambie- Nairn, Monday mornings, progress meeting to go over the job list. Each designer and producer team discussing with the group their projects. I have never since laughed as much as I did then. Martin was the ring leader but we all couldn’t help ourselves. We laughed as hard as we worked. Fresh out of Saint Martins, words cannot describe the immense joy it was to work with them all. The challenge to create the very best we could, as intense but always with the smiling and gentle guidance of Martin. Sounds trite but it was a time when there was nowhere else to be in the world and we were having a party.
I only really got to know Martin over this past year, but that time was spent working with him on a few of his latest projects. He wasn’t slowing down, he wasn’t sitting back, he was still as much a ball of energy, positivity and charm as I understand he ever was. It was always fun, fast and brilliant to work alongside him, and I learned so much from his wisdom, unbelievable experience and generosity. I never got to tell him or to thank him. Speaking to him before Christmas, he was excited about the year ahead, full of plans and ideas. We will miss you, and thank you Martin.
I was so fortunate and privileged to have worked with Martin.
It was early days in my career and this was my big break.
To work for Martin Lambie-Nairn and his amazingly talented team.
I learnt about the highest level of creativity and perfection. He took me under his wing, as he did with all novices, and taught me how to be brave, push for the very best work and to leave no stone unturned, with a smile, a laugh and respect for others.
What fantastic underpinning for my career, a gift from Martin and his team.
But alongside the hard work and productivity, he made us laugh, laugh, laugh.
I will never forget him tripping through the office with his well honed Norman Wisdom impersonation! Of course, it was spot on!
Goodbye to a lovely, generous, kind, funny and massively talented man.
A privilege, thank you Martin.
Condolences to Cordelia and family x
Zoe Bell (otherwise known by Martin as ‘naughty Zoe’)
I still can’t believe the sad news about Martin.
When I left Michael Peters & Partners in 1972 I joined London Weekend Television graphics department. It was there I met Martin. We started working together and eventually, in 1976, we left LWT and set up Robinson Lambie-Nairn which went from strength to strength thanks to Martin’s enthusiasm.
The creative world has lost an inspirational designer and thoroughly generous person. His amazing legacy will live on.
My deepest condolences to Cordelia and the family.
When Mark Byford gave me the task of leading the re-design of BBC News across the world in around 2007, I wanted to find the best designer in the world to do it. Fortunately a friend of mine , Eliza Burrows, recommended Martin. So began a two year project to strengthen the identity of BBC News across all its regional , national and global content. Martin, along with Celia Chapman and Anna Gorman on the agency side and myself, Tim Davie, Mark Byford, Helen Boaden, Peter Horrocks, Mike Kavanagh , Paul Thompson amongst many others were a formidable team. This is a project that is one of the proudest of my career. The identity is still on our screens today and has lasted well over 10 years. Not only was Martin a design genius , but he was such a lovely man. He always approached things with brutal honesty and I loved the fact that he hated corporate politics. What you saw was what you got with Martin and I remember his insults of me as fondly as his praise. Martin never ducked a difficult conversation and I so admired his authenticity. He genuinely cared about people and your well being and our friendship lasted well after I had left the BBC. I remember being so nervous when Martin showed me the BBC News identity for the first time. I bought Mike Kavanagh along for moral support. But the identity was a thing of beauty- there was nothing to fear, I had the genius of Martin behind me. Martin- I am so proud of the work we did together and I will never forget your humanity and genius. Rest in peace. Chris Gottlieb
I was so sad to hear the news that such a bright light had left us. I was lucky enough to work with Martin in the early 90s as a graduate fresh out of uni. Little did I know I had landed with one of the best creative brains in television. Aside from his brilliant ideas, he was such a lovely, kind approachable man. Although he is no longer here, Im am certain his work will continue to inspire many. My heart felt condolences to his family.
Martin, I didn’t get the chance to meet you in person but many of my peers did and all spoke of your charm, wit and ability the solve the almost impossible briefs. You Sir were a gentleman and tribute to our industry and endeavour. May your work and legacy long prevail and illustrate to the world that a truly good idea both lasts and forever is loved by people who appreciate the art of brilliance.
I was so sad to hear the news of Martin’s passing. I shared an office with Martin a few years ago. Whilst we only overlapped each other occasionally, I very much enjoyed our conversations. Martin was very kind to me and I enjoyed hearing some of the stories and looking at what he was working on. A kind man who clearly leaves behind a huge impact will be missed.
Rest in Peace Martin. Even though I worked for you over 30 years ago I will never forget your kindness and infectious smile. My thoughts and love are with Cordelia, Fenn, Van and Flavia and the extended Lambie-Nairn family xx
I only worked with you for a year, Martin, but one of my overriding takeouts from working at Heavenly was how kind, thoughtful and caring you were. It’s easy to feel intimidated by people in your industry who really are at the very top – the best in the business – but you only ever made people feel comfortable, at ease and listened to. A true gentleman and true genius. Sending all of my love to your family xxx
Very sad to hear this news. Although I had never worked for Martin, I did work in an industry that he created. He pushed boundaries in design and the technology that serviced his vision. Many of us who came out of the Graphic Design 80’s era to forge careers that levered his legacy will I hope never forgot who got it all started. RIP Martin. You are were and still are an inspiration.
It was a privilege to have worked with and known Martin from the days of Weekend World. Such a kind and talented person, who never seemed to get flustered no matter what was thrown at him. A very sad loss, my deepest condolences to his family.
Martin was a brilliant designer and wonderful person. He consistently made people feel better, both through his work and with his open, friendly and humorous personality – Always a pleasure to be with.
What a legacy!
We will all miss him.
I had the privalage of working with Martin for a few hours on a Royal Designer summer school. The subject of creativity came up and Martin made the point that creativity is vitally important but not the preserve of designers, a vet needs to be creative too. So true and an example of his great modesty.
How would Martin have reacted to these extraordinary, warm and heartfelt tributes? Rarely has there been a genus designer of such modesty and firm sense of reality, but surely even he would have been touched. And he would have smiled and enjoyed the memory of each contributor. The fact that his death was marked by the BBC, a rare thing for a designer, was not only because of the work he did for them which made it familiar, but because they felt someone important had left us. And they were right.
I feel very lucky to have had Martin as a friend for a very long time. He also helped my daughter change her career. I will miss him.
Martin was simply the best. I got to know him during his time as external examiner for Graphic Design at the Royal College of Art, when I was running the department. He was
not just an inspiration to the students but the staff as well. The last time we met was at
the RDI dinner, in 2019. I will always remember the warmth of his greeting and his wonderful
smile. His work is legendary. Just such a shock…
I was inspired as a student, intimidated as a professional, humbled as a colleague and inspired to the core.
He left his mark on everyone in his compassionate orbit. He was and will always be, the definition of a Gentle-Man.
Martin was a great guy. During my long years in the business of Television Graphics
he popped up here and there: at Rediffusion where my wife Maureen Roffey worked, at BBC as an assistant and later at the early DandAD awards ceremonies.
But then the Chanel 4 identity exploded on the design environment.
From then on he continued to create exuberant work which shook standard concepts
I’m so glad that his design work for television is still here, and it’s here to stay..
A few years ago (more than a few) I was really fortunate to get to meet Martin and and his wonderful wife Cordelia,
Through a family connection, he had been forced to meet, and somehow help a spotty graduate who had literally no clue about the industry he wanted to work in.
I will always remember three things – how nervous I was, how at ease they made me feel welcoming me into their home, and how much warmth, passion and professionalism he emitted. Like a creative radio tower.
The advice he gave me didn’t just help me creatively, but helped me understand that while design is a wonderful practice and career, it is also a business and a professional industry. Full of people whom, although I didn’t know there names, he cared deeply about.
He was always supportive, generous with his time and really cherished the industry that he had influenced so much.
I owe a great deal of my working career to those small meetings. Thank you both.
Rest well Martin.
In 2010, on the invitation of the British Council, Martin, Michael Wolff and I went on a weeklong lecture tour of Mexico. There was a kind of mix-up at one of the venues where we were to appear. We arrived to discover that it was not a normal lecture space but a boxing area, with seats on all sides, filled with very noisy young people. We were each expected to give our presentation while moving around the boxing ring, with an interpreter simultaneously speaking in Spanish from a commentary box. We looked at each other nervously, trying to work out who should go first. Martin volunteered, and his small figure climbed the steps and he walked into the centre of the boxing ring.
Through the booming PA system, he said: “Good evening. Thank you for coming. I feel like I’m going to be executed!” A huge laugh followed, and he went on to give a fantastic presentation. It was in Mexico that I got to know and observe Martin first-hand, as well as witness his extraordinary ability to draw people in – you could see how immediately everyone loved him. It reminded me of that scene in the Wim Wenders film ‘Wings of Desire’ where, in a university library, students are scattered around, intensely studying for their exams. Behind each one stands an angel with a hand placed gently on its charge’s shoulders, quietly helping them along. I always imagined that Martin, a deeply religious man, had one of those angels standing just behind him.
It was an honour to work alongside genius and a privilege to know such a gentleman.
Martin taught me that above all in life, to keep it simple, keep a sense of humour and keep the faith.
Thank you Martin.
Sleep well and be good.
Martin was a legend in the field of design and television branding but who would have known it when they met him. I will alway remember him as a wonderful kind, funny man with no airs and graces. He treated everyone his equal and always had time for them. So many designers owe so much to this hugely talented man and I will be forever grateful I had the opportunity to work with him. Martin’s legacy will live on in all the designers he inspired with his incredible work but also his generosity of spirit.
Sending my sincere condolences to Cordelia and his family
Rest in peace Martin
I was very sad to hear of Martin’s passing. I worked for him as a junior designer in the late 90s. I still remember how he dispelled my nerves when he set my first design research task. “One of us two” he said, “needs to watch through 2 hours of this TV channel recording – and capture a still image every time a graphic appears on the screen”
Of course, I volunteered it should be me that did such a drawn out task. This small interaction was typical of his tact and respect, even for the juniors.
My deepest condolences to Martin’s family and friends.
So very shocked and saddened by the news of Martin’s death – his huge reputation ran before him by the time I met him – but his wonderfully infectious smile, his warmth, his generosity and most of all his modesty, laid to rest any anxieties.
Fabulously creative, courageous and fiendishly supportive of the people and projects he believed in – his friendship was a priviledge and he will be greatly missed – with love.
Very sad news indeed. Looking back over Martin’s very successful career as a graphic designer his major achievement was transferring graphic design from print to television. Plus his contribution to Spitting Image enabled the political cartoon to also transfer from print to television. Both of which are still in evidence today on your television. Martin was a pleasure to work with.
Martin’s brave and inspiring work made me feel pride in the progressive culture of Britain.
Not so many years ago Martin and I were both invited to give talks on the same day in Scarborough. It may well have been the last public talk that Martin gave in fact.
Martin charmed the audience with his humour and innate warmth, talking of the challenges of numerous brand and identity projects for TV and media companies. It was a masterclass in clarity, logic and absolute brand awareness and perception.
Speaking with a calm confidence, borne of years of navigating the structural complexities of international, multi-faceted behemoths such as the BBC, he showed us the depth of research, analysis and astute creative thinking required to deliver such deceptively simple design solutions.
I was simply awestruck, by the work of course, but in actuality it was Martin’s ever-present wit and self-effacing humility that impressed me. I learned so much that day.
Thank you for your genius, your courage your humour and your friendship. I loved all the times we spent together – at the BBC and then at the Royal Opera House. You revolutionized the look of both. You brought unity out of what seemed like design anarchy. You set the bar. And your work lives on . My condolences to Cordelia and the family . I shall miss you. Tony
Martin, I wanted to say thank you for everything. I learned so much over the time we worked together – many late nights and even more laughs. I’ll always remember you sitting me down and asking if I’d like to be your assistant (of course Martin!) – I didn’t quite know what it would entail but knew it would be brilliant. It was so much more than that – a grounding that helped me develop not just as a designer but as a person and for that I’ll be forever grateful. I wish I told you that, but I hope you knew.
I’ll miss you lots.
Condolences to the family x
Where to start, what to say – there are so many memories of my time working with Martin. Undoubtedly he helped my career and I probably his.
It all started in early 1982 when I first met Martin at his presentation to Channel 4. He was pitching to be chosen to create the identity for the new channel to be launched in November that year. Here was a slightly untidy man giving a presentation which had none of the gloss and smoothness of his competitors. Yet the work was innovative and showed potential. Martin was an experienced television graphic designer, he was unassuming, slightly nervous but quite charming and most importantly he understood television graphics! I thought he was right for the task and something about him made me persuade Jeremy Isaacs and Paul Bonner that he was the person to choose. The rest is history!
So began my long association with this very special man who would change the face of British Television identity forever and become world famous as one of the most talented of men. Neither of us realised it at the time!
When I returned to the BBC in 1988 I needed Martin to work his magic on BBC One and BBC Two. Sir Paul Fox, Managing Director of BBC Television agreed to him joining me and so began another long and successful partnership. The corporate BBC brand would follow together with many other key BBC projects.
Many things amazed me about Martin – his calmness, his kindness, his cheekiness – so many good virtues despite often hitting brick walls, difficulties and high politics. Also, most importantly was his ability to always deliver superb creative solutions – however testing! I always welcomed his smiling face when he entered my office and shall always remember his slightly screwed up face when he encountered something he didn’t quite like, or agree with. He also had a very good vocabulary of sound effects!
Around him he had gathered a hugely talented and committed team – fabulous people like Sarah, Celia, Debbie and Daniel plus many other creatives who were a pleasure to work with.
I will always remember those years with great fondness – they were very special and I was very lucky to know Martin and be part of his world – a truly lovely, special man. There were not many like him, it’s so sad he left us so early, something very special must have been calling him.
I joined Lambie-Nairn & Co. in the early nineties. Working for Martin was a highlight of my career and, decades on and a continent away, his influence remains with me and with many others whose careers he guided.
Martin set unparalleled creative standards and revolutionized branding for TV with his iconic designs. He did this with a gentle charm, elegance, and always with a twinkle in his eye.
He will be sorely missed but his creative spirit lives on.
Condolences to his family.
Martin, your natural ability to create ground-breaking work seemed effortless.
Your warm and engaging personality, wit and wisdom, and that twinkle in your eyes always made a meeting at the RSA great fun .
You loved to recognise and encourage the creativity in others and gave your time so generously.
You didn’t have to flex an ego or shout about your work, it’s brilliance simply dazzled us all and spoke for itself.
The joyful memories of you and your outstanding contribution will live on and continue to inspire future generations.
Thank you for all your support over many years.
Sincere condolences to Cordelia and Martin’s family. X
So sad to hear the news about there passing of one of Britain’s design originals.
I collaborated with Martin on the writing of his book ‘Brand identity for Television: With Knobs On’. Let me quote from my introduction:
‘Martin Lambie Nairn is not a marketing refugee from lagers or chocolate bars, but a real television insider. Nor is he a Harvard MBA with a head full of branding strategies, but a typical graduate of a British art school in the early sixties, trained to paint Chinese willow patterns on plates to perfection, immersed in the classic craft skills of graphic design…’
Martin, you had a beautiful soul and touched many of our lives, so generous were you with your kindness, wisdom and humour. I feel blessed to have known you and worked for you even though it was so long ago in the early 90s. It will always be the happiest places that I’ve ever worked. You will be missed by all who knew you but never forgotten.
Deepest condolences to Cordelia and the family.
Sleep well Martin
Dear Martin – time to remember – we’ve been working on a project every decade since 1990 – whether for RTL television germany – at the conferences and award ceremonies of EYES & EARS of EUROPE – or at student seminars in London. Everything was shaped by your quiet, competent passion … farewell our friend .. Martin – have a look in heaven, maybe they need a new look there !!!
R. i. P.
Feel incredibly sad to hear the news about Martin Lambie-Nairn. Such a lovely man. Incredibly funny, witty and so kind and generous with his time, especially with us young ‘uns. He was a bona fide genius but so down to earth and warm. He welcomed everyone’s input. He did a cracking Windsor Davies impression and used to constantly rib us Welshies. I remember him being sat on my shoulder for hours saying things like “move it up a dibble darling”.
I hadn’t long started working at L-N and was working late one evening, clearly struggling and he came and put his arm around me and said “don’t worry, it always works out well in the end”.
Just an amazing man and was an honour to have had the opportunity to work at L-N and him especially, he left a huge impression. My thoughts are with his family and friends and the whole wider L-N family.
Good Bye, Martin. You will always stay unforgettable for me, and with a smile I remember the joyful moments when we met, wether in Germany, London or Beijing.
My sincere condolences to your family,
My colleague and I attended a talk by Martin at the Museum of Brands a couple of years ago. Not only was he fascinating, intelligent and clearly passionate, he took the time to speak to us after the event, sharing his wisdom with us. It’s a talk I often reference with my team and is one I won’t forget in a hurry.
Martin one of the first to welcome me when I was elected an RDI
He had a warm smile and engaging personality and we always had long interesting conversations.
We saw eye to eye on things as we were about the same height, I think on one occasion he claimed to be taller than me!
He was a gentleman in all senses of the word
He will be sadly missed but his work continues to live on
I first met Martin when he was at LWT, then when I went to Thames and he had just set up his own company I persuaded the graphics department at Thames to hire him for some long forgotten film for the old Today programme because I loved the way he did maps which glowed as if they were backlit. I don’t know how he did it but I had never seen anyone ge that effect in the pre computer graphics era.
Then, in the early 80’s when I took on developing the pilot of Spitting Image with Lloyd, Fluck and Law I based myself in the RLN office in Great Marlborough St where Martin was always the picture of gentlemanly courtesy even as he got more and more squeezed to the margins by the rest of us. By then of course he was the man who had created the Channel Four brand and had become the guru of all things television branding. Over the years we would run into each other every now and again and he never seemed to have got older or changed in any way at all. I guess this led to the idea that he would be around forever so it is quite unreal to know the even he was not immune to the imperative that a life, however distinguished, must always end.
Martin was of course very much a man with faith, so if he was right and I am wrong, and there is such a thing as heaven, I have no doubt he will be there and already coming up with a series of mood boards and ideas for the Board of Directors, or will it be the Heavenly Trustees chaired by God, for a new brand identity which will be clever, stylish and subtle, not to mention way ahead of anything the competition offer up.
My condolences to Cordelia and the family
Thank you Martin. With characteristic generosity you gave VCCP its first home in your Victoria offices. But you gave us much more than a place to work. You were a great mentor to us and a great example. I personally learnt so much from you, not just about the business but about how to conduct oneself in business. You were a model of civility, courtesy and encouragement with a smile like a ray of sunshine. Thank you again and, on behalf of us all at VCCP, our deepest condolences to your family
I will forever be grateful for having had the opportunity to have worked with Martin over the last decade – knowing his genius, being encouraged by his enthusiasm, crying from his humour. His humility would never have allowed him to acknowledge the enormous impact that he has had on design and on the people lucky enough to have known him. So Brilliant and so kind.
Deepest condolences to Cordelia and their family.
I was sitting at my desk one morning and this unassuming, likeable chap with ruddy cheeks, crumpled chinos and shirt-sleeves already rolled up for action stuck his head round the door.
“Hi I’m Martin – I’m the new Creative Director” he said and our journey began. I count myself extremely fortunate to have had the privilege of working closely with him and experiencing his brilliance, kindness, perfectionism and passion for cutting edge creativity and storytelling. Martin: you will be missed: RIP
I was lucky enough to be offered my first permanent role at Lambie-Nairn. As a junior designer, it was quite daunting to think of working alongside such a legend as Martin. However, whenever we worked together he was kind, patient and generous with his time. It was a real privilege to work with such an inspiring person, but also someone so warm and down to earth. He will be greatly missed by many, but his legacy will live on and inspire future designers for many years to come.
I owe Martin a great debt. He taught me, he trusted me and he supported me for nine incredible years. When I worked alongside him, he was generous. When we parted, he was magnanimous. Above all, he was kind.
Millions have delighted in Martin’s work, even those who may have never known his name. He made the world a more delightful place, which is a fine epitaph.
My deepest condolences to Cordelia and his family.
Wow! I have just read through the many messages of condolence and one thing has communicated itself so loudly … what a truly loved man Martin was!
I was incredibly lucky to have been a member of the Lambie-Nairn team back in the ‘golden years’ whilst the company was based in Great Marlborough Street. I will be forever thankful to Martin for his warmth, generosity, kindness and patience. We always had such fun and I think that everyone who worked with him felt like ‘one of the family’.
I will never forget Martin’s wonderful sense of humour, especially at the Christmas parties in his kilt, marching up and down whilst playing his bagpipes!
Martin, there are so many people who will miss you but I really hope you’re having a great time wherever you are!
Sending my very best wishes to Cordelia and the rest of the family
You were a big inspiration to me when I was growing up.
The first time I saw your work, I was 5 and I cried at the BBC News intro (haha). I ended up becoming obsessed when I was older, browsing television forums and creating my own “mock” ones.
You brought me into branding and graphic design and you’re part of the reason I’m the person I am today.
Well, i don’t know what to say – What Martin did on brands as O2 or the most recognizable brand, the BBC was and is still incredible.
Everything spoke by itself, just like he wanted it, simple and effective
We will miss you a lot Martin, but, memories will stay and your work has already been immortalized for the world to see it.
My condolences to Cordelia and the family.
Martin Lambie-Nairn remains to many, including myself, as one of many visionaries that have affected modern-day branding.
He knew that simplicity – yet with a mix of creativity and distinctiveness – made brands that are still elegant, modern, and easily recognizable.
His work for the BBC, Carlton, Channel 4, Granada, ITN, and TF1, to name a few, are now companies associated with high-quality entertainment and news programmes that everyone enjoys.
He inspired many, his colleagues, and regular TV viewers who had a knack for the media scene to begin their newfound careers in the land of broadcasting.
He made me realize my dreams and aspirations in broadcasting, from branding them to producing projects with a high standard of quality.
Finally, this lengthy tribute of mine cannot even encapsulate the amount of gratitude I have for him. He truly is an expert in his work, and no one could ever doubt the genius he showed through the projects he did. I offer my condolences as well to his wife Cordelia, and his family. Rest in peace, Martin Lambie-Nairn.
I first learned about Martin Lambie-Nairn when I stumbled upon a copy of his book With Knobs On. His identity work for Channel 4 and BCC 2 was instantly recognizable to me. (And of course I was familiar with Spitting Image!) As a newly minted graphic designer I soaked up his wisdom like a sponge. Little did I know that just a couple of short years later I would be given an opportunity to work in television. Our motion graphics work, informed and inspired by Martin Lambie-Nairn, quickly got attention and led to branding projects for national networks. One project, a rebrand and total on-air package, was awarded the highest honor in US television branding. I was standing on the shoulders of *the* giant of broadcast design. I was saddened to learn of his passing just now. I owe him so much, as do so many. Thank you, for all you’ve given us.
I’ve only just found this and am very saddened to see that Martin is no longer with us. I thoroughly enjoyed working with him at Lambie-Nairn. He had a great sense of humour and was a very talented man. Our condolences to his family. xxx
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *