I am now entering the third creative stage of my life.

The first stage was Play. Although I did not appreciate it at the time, I was lucky enough to have parents that gave me tools rather than toys to play with. I would sit for hours modelling cities and starships from toilet roll tubes and cardboard boxes. For me, my journeys to intergalactic worlds were real; the crudity of my palette left space for my imagination to run free. Looking back, I realise such play made me see beyond an object’s prescribed use to its potential. I have held this dear ever since.

The second stage was Skills. Having graduated from architecture school, I was fortunate enough to begin my career at the firm of Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, the architects behind the Eden Project. It was a thrilling time to join. The studio had won numerous high profile Millennium competitions and being in the CGI department, all projects passed through us to be brought to life. It was an unusual opportunity to learn piece by piece, how some of the best architects in the business put together their buildings, whilst at the same time honing my skills in computer visualisation. This skill has served me well, since in order to create anything, first we must be able to visualise it.

An opportune move to Parkview International allowed me greater creative freedom concepting designs for Parkview Green in Beijing and the redevelopment of one of my favourite buildings in London, Battersea Powerstation. It was a fascinating taste of designing a “city within a city” within the 38-acre site, paying reverence to an icon of our industrial heritage and its monumental cathedral-like spaces.

But it was at Sony Computer Entertainment’s Media Molecule, an elite and intimate games development start-up, where I felt I could truly fly. I was attracted by the freedom of the virtual world, unshackled by real-world constraints and I revelled at the speed ideas could be prototyped. Playful creation was at the heart of the project, for we were not just making a game, but a creative toolset, empowering users to make their own worlds and share them with a global online community of millions.

The day LittleBigPlanet was released, we watched as people’s creations were published all around the world. We were blown away by the ingenuity of the community, using the tools in ways we could never have imagined. Over time, the community evolved to support itself, sharing ideas and knowledge. Even schools and universities took it up as part of their curriculum. This opened my eyes to the power of social movement that was to become the seed of my third creative stage; Service.

In 2013, I took the leap in realigning my career with my love for the Natural World, and enrolled on the Holistic Science Masters Programme at Schumacher College; a centre for ecological studies and transformative learning. For my dissertation thesis, I focused on the potential of the arts to encourage deeper Nature connection, drawing from an interdisciplinary study of animal tracking, indigenous wisdom, Goethian Phenomenology, Deep Ecology and Gaia Theory.

I graduated with a distinction and Book of Beasts was born. It had become clear that the skills and experience I had in mainstream entertainment could be powerful in educating, inspiring, reimagining and crucially, empowering ecologically integrative ways of life.


Me in my happy place. (Photo credit: Chloe Hardwick)

Me in my happy place. (Photo credit: Chloe Hardwick)

Kengo's Journeys