Work / The List

A look at some of the best art and design castaways on Desert Island Discs

Desert Island Discs is a British institution. First broadcast in 1942, the premise is super simple – if marooned on a desert island which songs would you take with you (as well as a book and a luxury item). Of course the show is about much, much more than music and thanks to the incredible guests the show attracts (being invited on DID is a real cultural badge of honour) and the skills of the interviewers, each show becomes a fascinating insight into some of the most interesting minds around. You can (and really should) spend some time exploring the incredible archive but here we’ve picked out a few shows featuring castaways from the art and design world that we recommend.

You can add any you think we’ve forgotten in the comments section at the bottom.

Tracey Emin

Everyone has an idea what Tracy Emin is like; her DID interview will confirm some of your preconceptions and very much challenge others.

James Dyson

Arguably the most important product designer working today, and Dyson explains why he chose Dylan is a real treat.

Damien Hirst

It’s worth bearing in mind that everything Hirst does – including media appearances – seems to be part of his personal brand development, but there are moments here when he appears to drop his guard.

Jan Pienkowski

The perfect combination of a compelling personal story and a real insight into an art form (children’s illustration in this case).

Antony Gormley

A really eclectic selection from artist Antony Gormley and some enjoyable sparring with host Sue Lawley.

Peter Blake

Artists that are genuine cultural icons are pretty rare so this is a privilege to listen to. The fact he picks The Spice Girls’ Wannabe for his daughter Rose is particularly charming.


It’s Nice That director Will Hudson sent this round to the team shortly after it was broadcast and he’s right that it’s well worth a listen. He doesn’t come across how you probably imagine he might.

Ralph Steadman

Anyone who was Hunter S Thompson’s sidekick is alright by us. A rare talent and an extraordinary life story.