Welcome to the Design Penguin huddle!


Did you know: The exact number of species of penguin is not known but experts say it is between 16-19.
Nearly half of these are either listed as vulnerable or endangered which is why for every 100th project, Design Penguin gifts a penguin adoption to the client involved.

Design Penguin started life in 2017 when Karen Haines-Lea was looking for more fulfilment and meaning in her work life. With over 20 years of experience in designing for print, exhibitions and the web, and having built up and ran studios in the past, Karen realised she had a vision for a design agency that would combine optimum creativity with practicality and excellent client service. So, diving into open water, Design Penguin Creative Ltd started to swim. As the business has bloomed more people have joined so we are able to help more clients. We are a ‘can do’ team that will always listen then design to make the difference.

Why Penguins you ask? Well that’s all based in a project Karen did at the start of her career. Solihull College wanted to promote its courses whilst not pigeonholing the audience. Karen used penguins (not pigeons) doing art, sport, cookery and all whole host of activities to promote courses. So in 2017, when she had this bold idea about starting up on her own, the college penguins reminded her of what really sparked her passion for design and creativity. Design Penguin Creative was hatched and has been flying ever since, (yes, we know penguins can’t fly, but they are pretty nippy in the water!).

Culture, Agriculture, Leisure, Engineering are just few things #designedbypenguins Working with varied sectors means that we can look at a project and see it from lots of angles. We call on our years of experience to deliver great results, working closely with our clients to create fresh design ideas. Our close collaboration with printers, crafts people and fitters means we can deliver the complete solution to every project. This is all part of our approach of care and attention that keep clients coming back time and again. Some members of our team have been working with the same clients for nearly 20 years and Design Penguin has retained many since its very first day.

Our Services

  • Creative design
  • Identity design
  • Museum and gallery exhibitions
  • Print of pretty much anything!
  • Ads for print and digital
  • Internal and external signs and wayfinding
  • Websites and digital assets for social media

Say hello to the team...

Karen Haines-Lea – Creative Director & Founder (Chief Penguin)
Karen has been designing for over 25 years across a whole range of specialisms and in sectors from farming to engineering, technology start-ups to museums and galleries. Her keen eye for design excellence and identifying what is needed, working through options, then collaborating with clients and suppliers to make it happen is at the core of everything we do. She relishes a challenge, and nothing is too big, or too small, to ensure design makes a difference.

Karen loves transformation… whether its is looking at a gallery space and imagining it full of objects, graphics and interactives, or improving the visitor journey in a building or outdoor space, to creating a new visual brand and rolling out in print and on websites. Good design can and does make a difference.

Emily Medcraft – Creative Account Manager
Emily has been a Penguin since January 2022. Thrown in at the deep end, she has definitely proven she can swim! Having worked at Compton Verney for many years in visitor services and marketing, her organisation skills and knowledge of the heritage and culture sector has become invaluable. Emily is now developing new skills and her arts background as been reawakened.

Also, Emily is the best baker we know and we (and clients) get a little bit excited when a tin or tub is produced from her bag… today it was the most mouthwatering shortbread EVER!

Mark Grafton – Designer
Mark’s key phrase is “Yep, no problem”. After graduating with a degree in graphic design/typography he worked for a magazine publisher for twenty something years. Although Mark’s first love is printed media, he has experience across all fields of design. Mark is a pleasure to work with and an asset to have on board.

Treena Robinson – Designer
Treena is our newest Penguin, having worked with Karen in a previous role, she joined the huddle at the start of 2023 and brings with her an amazing eye for detail and great design and art-working skills. Her knowledge of print and her questioning mind makes Treena fit right in at Penguin HQ.

Tim O – Web Developer 
Tim is our go-to-man for all things web-footed! With over 13 years of web building experience, Tim helps to bring our website designs to reality and manages site maintenance. He works closely with us to plan sites and convert the clients wish list into working websites – whether its a simple brochure site, a members subscription site or a complete integrated e-commerce shop he swims to the rescue.

Tim C – Web Developer 
A really new addition, Tim C is diving in to help so we can take on more work.

Andy Haines – King Penguin!
Andy is more behind the scenes on the business side but he is paddling away everyday ensuring we keep on top of everything including accounts, business plans, future planning, systems and biscuit testing. Always on top of all the things that makes Design Penguin tick is a tough job when you are surrounded by fluffy creative Penguins!


Heritage, culture & leisure
Belgrade Theatre, Birmingham Museum Trust, Compton Verney, Cotswolds Show, Déda, Dr Johnson’s House, Go Cotswolds, Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, National Trust, Nottingham Playhouse, Padstow Cottage Company, Porthole Cottage St Ives, Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

We’re proud to members of the Museums Association. 

BB Wealth, Flex Marine Power, Insurance Fraud Investigators Group, RP Architecture, Whiteley Brookes Engineering

CHeCs, Commercial Farmers Group, FIIA, Pasture for Life, Oxtale, Ruminent Health and Welfare

Cygnets Nursery,University of Birmingham, University of Oxford, University of Warwick, Summerfields School

selected clients