Jonathan Ward & Andrew Davidge

Professional in Vehicle Design.

About Jonathan Ward & Andrew Davidge

Jonathan Ward and his wife, Jamie, founded their first automotive brand in 1996. They abandoned established careers to pursue their hobby as a business, with the simple premise of applying quality restoration to vintage utility vehicles, which were not yet in vogue at the time. TLC is now considered the leading specialist in vintage Toyota Land Cruisers in the world. In 2006, the Wards launched their next brand, ICON. ICON builds and restores custom vehicles that pay tribute to vintage transportation design, infused with the best modern engineering and technology, to breathe new life into classics. Both companies are thriving in Los Angeles, California. Jamie & Jonathan are very proud of being a part of the Makers Movement, reviving craftsmanship and quality in American built products.

  • Winner of Vehicle Design Award.
  • Specialized in Vehicle Design.
  • Original Design.
  • Creative, Diligent and Innovative.
  • All Designs
  • Vehicle
ICON E-Flyer Electric Bicycle

ICON E-Flyer Electric Bicycle

Vehicle Design


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Interview with Jonathan Ward & Andrew Davidge

Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
Ever since I was a small child, I have been hyper vigilant and aware of the design elements around me. I have always been a tinkerer, always taken things apart and studied them, often putting them back together again in a different way. I initially chose a different career path, which I eventually walked away from to pursue my passion for design. Although never officially trained, I have always studied design, and have been an avid reader of anything related to history, design, and autobiographies of others like me, through out history.
Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
ICON was founded in 2006, with the simple goal to revisit classic transportation design in a modern context. We run 36 employees in a 44,000 square foot facility here in Los Angeles. Our core products are vehicles with classic styling fused with modern engineering. We are all about reviving classic industrial art in transportation, something we feel the industry has all but abandoned.
What is "design" for you?
A defined perspective, clearly expressed opinion. Great design is “considered”, meaning design is full of balance and compromise, so great design has been thoroughly considered, and those paths must follow the initial utility and vision of the designer. Superfluous elements are the kiss of death, everything must have utility value, and the functional intent of the design must be immediately implied.
What kinds of works do you like designing most?
I love transportation, furniture and watch design the most, although I find myself constantly studying almost everything. I really enjoy finding inspiration from other sectors of design (aerospace, Military, marine, architecture, fasion…), and infusing those elements in my projects.
What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
I love researching and mastering modern vehicle technologies, and figuring out how to inject them into classic vehicles.
When do you feel the most creative?
Laying in bed at night, dreaming, and when attending notable car events like the Concours De Elegance each year.
Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
I spend ample time visualizing the design in my head, all the way down to the tactile elements, before ever putting pen to paper or starting a CAD file. I find I do my best work when the vision is clear before I begin.
What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
Less frustration, more pride! Although I am never 100% happy or done. Even as I realize a design, I find myself asking many questions about how to evolve or rethink that very design!
What makes a design successful?
Emotion conveyed, utility clear, quality of execution, proper ergonomics, tactile value and sense of quality.
When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
I feel there is no bad design. Just like art, design is an opinion. So then perhaps god design is an expressed opinion that resonates the longest, and hopefully with the largest audience!
From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
Big believer in “Cradle To Cradle” design. We can no longer afford to disregard the industrial processes, waste nor life span of our creations. They all must take care of the planet we expect to live on!
How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
I am excited by the constantly evolving and emerging manufacturing and reverse engineering solutions coming to market. I think these will all be key factors in enabling designers and entrepreneurs to be able to realize their dreams, and forge new roads!
When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
SEMA show in Las Vegas, November 2013, and Known Gallery with Herschel Supply last month. One day I would love to see my designs featured in a conventional art gallery. So often, transportation is not seen as art.
Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
Everything I read, see, smell or touch can inspire my next idea. I have a very open eye and mind, and I am always exploring everything around me for inspiration and integration.
How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
For whatever reason, I am drawn to vintage design over modern design in everything. Too often there is no passion in modern design, perhaps to many focus groups, too few brands allowing one individual to drive a product. So I consistently ask myself how to revisit a classic design language, while making it relevant in the modern world.
Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
I live in Los Angles, California. Tons of great design culture here, but I try to travel abroad as much as possible because the youth of our country (combined with our relative misunderstanding of the value in the old…) to widen my perspective.
How do you work with companies?
I have done several collaborations with large companies. I work best when there are few chef’s in the kitchen. So my favorite collab’s are when a larger company comes to me with respect for my approach to design, while opening my eyes to new processes.
What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
So may designers today work to almost avoid having a personal style or perspective in their work. I understand why, as this allows them to embrace a potentially larger customer base. However, I believe the best designers have a natural, innate, perspective on design and the look of the world around them. So I feel the purest designs come from a confident designer who manages to find clients that embrace his or her way of seeing the world, and less so from designers who try to get into the client’s head, then try to create from that angle.
Can you talk a little about your design process?
I write a list of things I do not like about products in the space, and another about what I do like. Then I live with a product for a while, and keep notes of new ideas and functions I am entertaining. Next is a period of doing nothing but daydreaming about it, as I allow the vision to cement in my mind. My best work is done if I do not start anything until I can see it clearly in my own head!
What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
Axe head from the Stone Age. 1910’s movie poster canvas scrolls. Raymond Loewy Globe Radio, 1940’s French Mahogany airplane ceiling light, 1900’s wrist watch.
Can you describe a day in your life?
Up, herd the kids out the door and off to school. Half hour drive to work while I make a mental list of goals for the day. In the office, knock out the emails, put out any the fires, then hopefully focus on design outlines for current client projects then work on a few of my pet projects for the future. Home, glass of good single malt scotch, time with the family… repeat!
Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
RESPECT YOUR PERSPECTIVE! Nothing else matters more to a designer than his or her own faith in their natural design opinion.
From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
The frustrations of not being able to realize every vision, due to technical or financial limitations, is a bummer. However, being able to drive and see others appreciate the ones we are able to fund, makes it work out! One big negative is the lack of protection provided my patents, trademarks and other traditional design protections. Seeing my ideas ripped off makes me sad, especially when poorly done…
What is your "golden rule" in design?
If you do not have clear vision and interest in the project, it is OK to say no thank you! There is enough stuff in the world that there is no need to create anything new that is not inspired, and built to last.
What skills are most important for a designer?
Ability to envision ideas, and the ability to communicate them clearly (verbally as well as graphically).
Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
Massive library of vintage biographies, font reference books, automotive titles and studies, FARO Arm scanner, CAD programs, and the good old sketch pad! English wheel, planishing hammer, plasma cutter, pattern table, Rotex punch…. antique toys, art, instruction models everywhere in my office....
Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
Daydream until it feels right, and I can clearly see it. Then move forward, but never before…
How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
Most of our automotive projects take 1-2 years to realize and build.
What was your most important job experience?
My prior career, as a young actor, taught me so many valuable lessons about the art of communication, and to respect myself, even in the face of adversity or times of struggle.
Who are some of your clients?
Marc Newson, Jonny Ive, tons of typical celebrities and Fortune 500 types, but the Industrial Designers are the ones I am proudest off. They are some of my hero’s, so to see them drawn to my work… perfection!
What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
Breathing new life into vintage designs, period. There is something about revisiting designs from the past, in a modern context that fascinates me. There are so many lessons to be learned, so many unique challenges, I love it!
What are your future plans? What is next for you?
We will continue to grow ICON, with new vehicle and bicycle lines (in collaboration with Andrew). Meanwhile, I am thinking about starting two new brands. One in transportation electronics integration, and the other a watch brand…
Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
I like to realize the design initially on my own, then I assemble a “Master Alliance” team of individuals with varying expertise’s, to help me realize my ideas. It takes a village…
Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
Working on a car design from scratch that hopes to answer this theoretical question: “If WWII and the depression combined with the perversions of the industrial revolution had not interrupted the evolution of the Streamline design language in transportation, what would the ultimate expression have been?”

Extended Interview with Jonathan Ward & Andrew Davidge

Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
Ever since I was a small child, I have been hyper vigilant and aware of the design elements around me. I have always been a tinkerer, always taken things apart and studied them, often putting them back together again in a different way. I initially chose a different career path, which I eventually walked away from to pursue my passion for design. Although never officially trained, I have always studied design, and have been an avid reader of anything related to history, design, and autobiographies of others like me, through out history.
What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
ICON was founded in 2006, with the simple goal to revisit classic transportation design in a modern context. We run 36 employees in a 44,000 square foot facility here in Los Angeles. Our core products are vehicles with classic styling fused with modern engineering. We are all about reviving classic industrial art in transportation, something we feel the industry has all but abandoned.
Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?
A defined perspective, clearly expressed opinion. Great design is “considered”, meaning design is full of balance and compromise, so great design has been thoroughly considered, and those paths must follow the initial utility and vision of the designer. Superfluous elements are the kiss of death, everything must have utility value, and the functional intent of the design must be immediately implied.
What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?
I love transportation, furniture and watch design the most, although I find myself constantly studying almost everything. I really enjoy finding inspiration from other sectors of design (aerospace, Military, marine, architecture, fasion…), and infusing those elements in my projects.
What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?
I love researching and mastering modern vehicle technologies, and figuring out how to inject them into classic vehicles.
What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?
Laying in bed at night, dreaming, and when attending notable car events like the Concours De Elegance each year.
What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?
I spend ample time visualizing the design in my head, all the way down to the tactile elements, before ever putting pen to paper or starting a CAD file. I find I do my best work when the vision is clear before I begin.
What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?
Less frustration, more pride! Although I am never 100% happy or done. Even as I realize a design, I find myself asking many questions about how to evolve or rethink that very design!
Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?
Emotion conveyed, utility clear, quality of execution, proper ergonomics, tactile value and sense of quality.
What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?
I feel there is no bad design. Just like art, design is an opinion. So then perhaps god design is an expressed opinion that resonates the longest, and hopefully with the largest audience!
What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?
Big believer in “Cradle To Cradle” design. We can no longer afford to disregard the industrial processes, waste nor life span of our creations. They all must take care of the planet we expect to live on!
How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?
I am excited by the constantly evolving and emerging manufacturing and reverse engineering solutions coming to market. I think these will all be key factors in enabling designers and entrepreneurs to be able to realize their dreams, and forge new roads!
If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?
SEMA show in Las Vegas, November 2013, and Known Gallery with Herschel Supply last month. One day I would love to see my designs featured in a conventional art gallery. So often, transportation is not seen as art.
How do you define design, what is design for you?
Everything I read, see, smell or touch can inspire my next idea. I have a very open eye and mind, and I am always exploring everything around me for inspiration and integration.
Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?
For whatever reason, I am drawn to vintage design over modern design in everything. Too often there is no passion in modern design, perhaps to many focus groups, too few brands allowing one individual to drive a product. So I consistently ask myself how to revisit a classic design language, while making it relevant in the modern world.
What helped you to become a great designer?
I live in Los Angles, California. Tons of great design culture here, but I try to travel abroad as much as possible because the youth of our country (combined with our relative misunderstanding of the value in the old…) to widen my perspective.
What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?
I have done several collaborations with large companies. I work best when there are few chef’s in the kitchen. So my favorite collab’s are when a larger company comes to me with respect for my approach to design, while opening my eyes to new processes.
How do you think designers should present their work?
So may designers today work to almost avoid having a personal style or perspective in their work. I understand why, as this allows them to embrace a potentially larger customer base. However, I believe the best designers have a natural, innate, perspective on design and the look of the world around them. So I feel the purest designs come from a confident designer who manages to find clients that embrace his or her way of seeing the world, and less so from designers who try to get into the client’s head, then try to create from that angle.
What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?
I write a list of things I do not like about products in the space, and another about what I do like. Then I live with a product for a while, and keep notes of new ideas and functions I am entertaining. Next is a period of doing nothing but daydreaming about it, as I allow the vision to cement in my mind. My best work is done if I do not start anything until I can see it clearly in my own head!
What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?
Axe head from the Stone Age. 1910’s movie poster canvas scrolls. Raymond Loewy Globe Radio, 1940’s French Mahogany airplane ceiling light, 1900’s wrist watch.
What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?
Up, herd the kids out the door and off to school. Half hour drive to work while I make a mental list of goals for the day. In the office, knock out the emails, put out any the fires, then hopefully focus on design outlines for current client projects then work on a few of my pet projects for the future. Home, glass of good single malt scotch, time with the family… repeat!
How does design help create a better society?
RESPECT YOUR PERSPECTIVE! Nothing else matters more to a designer than his or her own faith in their natural design opinion.
What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?
The frustrations of not being able to realize every vision, due to technical or financial limitations, is a bummer. However, being able to drive and see others appreciate the ones we are able to fund, makes it work out! One big negative is the lack of protection provided my patents, trademarks and other traditional design protections. Seeing my ideas ripped off makes me sad, especially when poorly done…
Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?
If you do not have clear vision and interest in the project, it is OK to say no thank you! There is enough stuff in the world that there is no need to create anything new that is not inspired, and built to last.
What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?
Ability to envision ideas, and the ability to communicate them clearly (verbally as well as graphically).
Where do you think the design field is headed next?
Massive library of vintage biographies, font reference books, automotive titles and studies, FARO Arm scanner, CAD programs, and the good old sketch pad! English wheel, planishing hammer, plasma cutter, pattern table, Rotex punch…. antique toys, art, instruction models everywhere in my office....
How long does it take you to finalize a design project?
Daydream until it feels right, and I can clearly see it. Then move forward, but never before…
When you have a new design project, where do you start?
Most of our automotive projects take 1-2 years to realize and build.
Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?
My prior career, as a young actor, taught me so many valuable lessons about the art of communication, and to respect myself, even in the face of adversity or times of struggle.
What is the role of technology when you design?
Marc Newson, Jonny Ive, tons of typical celebrities and Fortune 500 types, but the Industrial Designers are the ones I am proudest off. They are some of my hero’s, so to see them drawn to my work… perfection!
What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?
Breathing new life into vintage designs, period. There is something about revisiting designs from the past, in a modern context that fascinates me. There are so many lessons to be learned, so many unique challenges, I love it!
What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?
We will continue to grow ICON, with new vehicle and bicycle lines (in collaboration with Andrew). Meanwhile, I am thinking about starting two new brands. One in transportation electronics integration, and the other a watch brand…
What do you wish people to ask about your design?
I like to realize the design initially on my own, then I assemble a “Master Alliance” team of individuals with varying expertise’s, to help me realize my ideas. It takes a village…
When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?
Working on a car design from scratch that hopes to answer this theoretical question: “If WWII and the depression combined with the perversions of the industrial revolution had not interrupted the evolution of the Streamline design language in transportation, what would the ultimate expression have been?”

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