Voices

Voices // Werkhouse, here we go!

by Lynne Elvins

After four months of preparation, the werkhouse workshop will take place this weekend. Based on the feeling, by six initial founders of the project that there is a lack of knowledge about ‘design studio reality’ amongst students and graduates, they decided to do something about it. The result is a weekend workshop, in a commercial studio, thanks to Taxi Studio, with some of the region’s most respected design industry professionals.

There were 24 places on offer for this ‘deep dive into the creative and interpersonal skills you need to succeed in a design studio’. The response to the call-out in April was phenomenal, with over fives times more applications than spaces available. In the end, the team decided to make room for 32 participants with a mix of students from Universities across the UK and young designers who have just begun their careers.

The delivery team has expanded as well. There are over 20 industry professionals (designers, creative directors, strategists, account managers, illustrators and copywriters) giving their time to work with the group and share how they rapidly develop concepts. It’s all being done in the context of a client scenario and with the time pressure of just two days.

But this isn’t about judging technical or executional skills in a specific design discipline. It’s not a design competition or a portfolio review exercise. It’s about being better prepared for the business of design. Creative thinking, design process, team working and exceeding client expectations – which are needed in all design studios.

It’s about always remembering the importance of the customer perspective and focusing on what the client needs to achieve. Doing the research, challenging a brief and collaborating with account managers and strategists. It’s about how studios work together to make informed decisions, develop propositions and get a design idea through – being able to sell the potential.

Participants will share their ideas and their thinking. They will not be creating finished designs or making formal pitches. We’ll all be collaborating, questioning and listening to each other. We created werkhouse because we believe young designers don’t get enough knowledge about the realities of commercial studio life. And their perspective is as important as ours.

As well as the project scenario we’ll all be working on, the weekend will include a discussion session about design training and recent experience of it. What is working well and what is missing? How does the industry meet changing expectations? What are the hopes and fears for a career in the design industry? On the day we’ll be tweeting and we will follow the workshop by sharing the questions, comments and conclusions we uncover. And in the meantime, we look forward to a very exciting weekend.

If you would like to send a question for the group discussion, please do, and we’ll do our best to include it: email elvins@designrally.co.uk.

Image credit: Mark Dearman.