About Smithery


Smithery is a Product and Marketing Innovation studio, established by John V Willshire in 2011.

We help companies Make Things People Want, rather than Make People Want Things.

We do this by making things quickly with our clients their teams, and customers.

Current clients include Carlsberg, Experian, Google, Gravity Road,
and the Saïd Business School at The University of Oxford.

Recent blog posts

Knowledge is faster than Mortar

Knowledge is faster than Mortar

I picked up a bag of coffee beans whilst we were on holiday, roasted by Skye Roastery and sold out of the Skye Farm Shop (“Local Produce for Local People”).  The coffee is especially interesting for me personally because I’ve been using coffee as a proxy for how MTPW>MPWT can play in even existing, seemingly […]

MTPW > MPWT

MTPW > MPWT

Posted by on Apr 9, 2014 in Making, random inspiration | One Comment

It’s time to finish the essay I’m writing for the next Creative Social Book, which I’m thrilled to be a part of.  It’s a two-and-a-half-year perspective on the phrase that has come to define Smithery’s purpose: Make Things People Want > Make People Want Things.  I’m trying to make it a useful elongated version of […]

Buildings That Cry

Buildings That Cry

Posted by on Apr 1, 2014 in random inspiration | No Comments

There’s a curious thing that happens with buildings around the area I’m from in Scotland.  The colder, damper weather demands that when you build houses, you don’t leave as much raw brickwork exposed to the elements as you might in the South. As a result, a lot of the houses have roughcast on the outside.  […]

Working with Smithery

Julie Doleman, Managing Director, Experian

“Working with John has been a brilliant adventure for my entire team.  John is not afraid of a challenge and his creativity and passion have opened our minds up to more innovative ways of working by helping to shape our thinking, actions and behaviours.  His work has helped us to create the culture of change we’ve needed to continue on our path of growth.”

- Julie Doleman, Managing Director, Experian
Thomas Moradpour, Vice President, Carlsberg Brand Global Marketing

“We love working with John, he’s an awesome source of brilliant ideas and endless energy in our creative process. Innovation as it should be.”

- Thomas Moradpour, Vice President, Carlsberg Brand Global Marketing
Tracey Camilleri, Saïd Business School

“I’ve found that if you have half an idea that you are excited about – John probably has the other half.  He has a generous imagination earthed in an intellectual rigour that makes him a rare bird.  I have benefited from his eclectic frame of reference and uncanny ability to make generative connections between people, ideas, genres.  Working with John feels like play – why isn’t all work like that?”

- Tracey Camilleri, Saïd Business School
Nick Kendall, BBH

“Mr King, Mr Bullmore… Mr Willshire. OK, John’s not quite the Third Ronnie, but I do believe he should be here alongside these legends, exploring what brands are now versus then.”


- Nick Kendall, BBH
Mark Earls, HERD

“Thinking without doing is as pointless as doing without thinking. John is one of the best of a new breed of strategists who actually do things. I learn a lot from him every time we collaborate”


- Mark Earls, HERD
Adam Morgan, Eat Big Fish

“John is the single most creatively fertile person I have met in the last five years”


- Adam Morgan, Eat Big Fish