Igniting Imagination: Tom Gayler
At the Royal Garden Hotel, we believe that igniting imagination and building everlasting memories are at the core of the perfect family break. Therefore, as part of our family-friendly promise, each month we will be interviewing passionate professionals to inspire your little ones.
First up we have Tom Gayler, a design workshop leader at the V&A Museum. Read all about the work he does and why he believes museums are important for a child's imagination.
Please introduce yourself and your role at the V&A Museum
My name is Tom Gayler and I lead design workshops at the museum for children and young people from schools in and around London.
Can you expand on your role? What do you do on a day to day basis?
My full-time job is as a designer and researcher, I work mostly with digital technology and have recently spent a lot of time working with 3D printed food. This gives me some really interesting ideas and approaches to bring into my workshops I run at the museum. My normal day at the V&A can be really varied depending on what I am doing, I often get in before the museum opens to set-up, getting the making materials ready and going through my plan. The group arrives and we start the session, often this means getting out to explore the museum and then returning to the studio space to do some 'making' activities. Once the session finishes, it is time to pack up and think about the next workshop!
What inspired you to do what you do? How and when did you learn this kind of job existed?
I was first inspired to share my design practice with other people when I was still in education. I studied at the Royal College of Art just down the road from the Royal Garden Hotel and got involved with workshops for school groups. This led to working with different museums both in London and further afield. I was first put in contact with the V&A through a former colleague and since then, have been able to get involved in a wider variety of projects.
What has been your favourite moment in the job so far?
I think my favourite moment was putting up the Door2Design exhibition that I was luckily enough to work on, alongside a local school. The school took part in a series of workshops over 3 months and then had their work put on display within the museum itself.
What did you have to do in order to get to where you are now?
I started studying design after A-levels and now have a bachelors and master’s degree in design. However, my interest in workshops came about through taking on extra projects and getting involved in programmes that looked to educate a wider audience about what goes on in an art school.
How important do you think museums are for a child’s imagination?
I think museums are very important as they are a great way to see so many different things in one place. By walking round the galleries you are able to see what people from different periods of history and people from around the world think makes a beautiful or a useful object. This diversity is really important and can be the spark that sets a child off on the path to their own creative future.
Do you remember your first visit to a museum? When and where was it?
I think my earliest memory of visiting a museum was probably going to the Eureka Science museum in Halifax, whilst visiting family with my grandparents. I would have been about 7 and I remember sending letters through the vacuum tube, an experience I can still recall to this day. I think that is why interactive exhibits are the future for museums. Play is so important to the way that children understand and get inspired (and also how designers come up with inspirations!).
What did you want to be/what job did you want to have growing up as a child?
I remember wanting to be a marine biologist or an inventor. I think this was inspired by what I liked watching on TV, either nature documentaries or Wallace and Gromit!
Have you got any advice for children wanting to work in the design industry?
Design is a field that changes so quickly, so two things are really important. The first is the ability to be creative, this is the constant thing across all design jobs is the ability to solve problems and come up with new ideas. The second is the ability to be flexible, you will always need to learn new skills, work with new technology or tools so the ability and desire to keep learning will put you at the head of the pack.
Any other advice or words of wisdom you would like to impart?
Don’t stop playing!