How Sonic, Lego and Dragonball inspired my design career

Claudio Guglieri

Design director at F_i, We Don't Need Roads and Palettab, Claudio Guglieri will be speaking alongside David Navarro at our very own web design event, Generate London, this September. In the runup to his talk, here Claudio shares five of his biggest design inspirations. How many do you share..?

01. Lego

"Lego was an essential part of my childhood. I think I was around six or seven years old when I first put my hands on one of those little plastic bricks.

'Something that I found really amazing about Lego toys from a design standpoint was the modularity of it, its potential to represent any given scene or object using a limited set of modules.

Ole Kirk Christensen invented the first LEGO bricks in 1949

"I could play a space-based adventure or a wild west steampunk tale with the same pieces, just filling in the gaps with my own imagination."

"Another important part of it was the instruction book. Lego provided the first comprehensive set of instructions I dealt with. I was delighted by the beauty and details of its design. I usually reference it as an example of clear and structured storytelling when approaching tutorials or video walkthroughs."

02. Sonic the Hedgehog

"I’ve been a gamer for a long time now, I got my first console (a SEGA Game Gear) when I was nine years old and used it every day until my little finger would fall asleep.

"I remember the first time I saw Sonic the Hedgehog in a shopping centre during Christmas and I just couldn’t believe what was happening on that screen. All the visual details, colours and different layers moving on different planes so fast that I could barely follow it."

Sonic the Hedgehog video game series was released by Sega in 1991

"I'm proud of being a part of a generation that, for a short while, grew up with no more visual reference than those you could get on the street or by watching one of the TV channels available. Suddenly, one day, everything started changing and it hasn't stopped since."

03. Dragon Ball - Akira Toriyama

"I first saw the animated series Dragon Ball when I was around 12 years old. I quickly became a fan and started drawing my own versions of its universe, trying to emulate the lighting and shades of color of the characters.

"I continued following Akira Toriyama’s works and later in my teenagehood I got into some other Japanese artists like Masakazu Katsura, Otomo and Rumiko Takahashi.

Dragon Ball is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Akira Toriyama

"Dragon Ball blew my mind, I had never seen such detailed, good looking visuals on a daily series before. I spent a considerable amount of time breaking down its visuals to small pieces and it definitely shaped how I see the world and the art direction industry nowadays."

04. Yugo Nakamura

"One of the most iconic designs reference in my career and one of my design classics of all time is the Japanese Agency THA.JP, directed by the legendary Yugo Nakamura.

Yugo Nakamura, who runs (above), is one of the world's leading web designers

"I first saw the website back in 2004 right after finishing college and it really dragged me into the interactive industry and got me to start using Flash."

05. Alhambra Tiles

"I was born in Granada, Spain and lived there until I was 14. Throughout my childhood I was taught about the greatness and the beauty of The Alhambra, a Moorish Palace built in the hillside of the city.

"I’ve visited it several times on school field trips and have learnt probably more about it than I would have in any other city across the country. However, sometimes it’s just not enough to be told something several times to believe it: you need to discover it yourself."

Beautiful tiles from the Alhambra, a palace complex located in Granada, Spain

"Years later, when I was already working as a designer, I discovered myself looking at the Alhambra’s tiles and their artistic patterns for the first time in my life.

"The whole palace is full of incredibly rich details, really inspiring patterns and great color themes. When working on projects like Ramayana these references came back to me all the time."

Words: Claudio Guglieri

Claudio Guglieri is design director at @F_i and some other experiments. He'll be speaking alongside David Navarro at Generate London this September – buy your ticket today!

See Claudio speak at Generate London