Q&A with Ultimate Den Product Designer and Judge Dean Gallagher

Last year we were very excited to launch a very special Inspired by Real Kids Competition – an Ultimate Den Competition!

The concept was simple but exciting: Lottie, Finn, and Mia, exploring Branksea Woods stumble upon something with GREAT potential. It was left to the children to decide what that ‘something’ was: an old tram carriage, a mysterious folly or far from its watery home, an abandoned sailing boat.

The entries came thick and fast sent to us online, through email and through our in-store competitions. Looking through all the entries was lots of fun! Children had been drawing and designing all over the world. We were completely overwhelmed by the sheer wealth of creativity, imagination, and talent that went into each and every awesome design.

This meant that that picking a winner was no easy task! After lots and lots of thought, we were finally able to agree on our favourite! Eithne aged 10 from Ireland had created an amazing ultimate castle den!  Here we talk to Ultimate Den Product Designer and Judge Dean Gallagher about what he was looking for in an Ultimate Den and why Eithne’s design stood out;


  1. What were you looking for in an Ultimate Den?

 We were looking for lots of imagination! We also wanted it to be a 'Den', not a dream house or a house of any kind for that matter, so we didn’t want a kitchen, living room, bedroom, and bathroom type thing, that’s not what Lottie is all about. I think a lot of us made dens as children – certainly, I did with all my friends. If it wasn’t outside with wood in a tree or in a field with hay bales then it was indoors using cardboard boxes or blankets. The key, I think was that we all imagined it being so much better than it was. We saw it with indoor slides, tunnels, secret doors and zip lines because those at the things we imagined as kids. So, I guess we hoped children would show us exactly what they would have if they could do anything, it was up to us then to figure out how much of 'anything' we could do.

  1. How difficult was it to choose a winner?

 This was quite difficult because there were elements in every design we loved, so there were quite a few debates in the Lottie office about who would get the prize. But in the end, we all agreed on Eithne's Design as the stand out winner.

  1. What stood out about Eithne’s design?

I think Eithne had just the right balance of cool, fun components. She made great use of the space in the old castle folly and it really felt like a den we would have loved to have as kids.

Ten-Year-Old Eithne is Design Queen with her Ultimate Den Castle

  1. Did building her folly den present any big challenges? If so, how did you overcome them?

No, not too many actually because as I said her design made the best use of the folly. Things made sense while still being fun. That left us enough room to elaborate on Eithne’s design. For example, the reading room gave us the great hidden bookshelf door which all good castles have.

  1. Why do you think her den will appeal to children?

For me personally, my inner child looks at it and thinks finally the den you've always wanted, a zip line, huge slide, secret door, drawbridge, swing, walls you can draw on, a climbing wall and a tower with a lookout. Hopefully, real kids will think the same, and maybe it will fit in and expand the imaginary world where they play with

 Lottie, Finn & Friends

You can see Dean in action in this exclusive behind the scenes video showing the making of the Ultimate Den. Well done again Eithne from everyone at Team Lottie!

 Don't forget our Inspired by Real Kids Competition runs every month! You can enter here!

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