Editorial: this piece was originally written in 2017 for Pawb-Everyone. It was one of the first pieces written as a part of Pawb, reflecting back during work on our initial projects on the ideas and ambitions driving us to try what were at the time new and emergent ways of working. These were some of my early thoughts, having recently finished Postgraduate study and looking to what might be possible as a designer entering the industry and seeing things that I, and as it turned out my colleagues at Pawb, felt were no longer fit for purpose in our profession, or still lingering from design's past.
TWEAK SENTENCES AND GRAMMAR??? - SAME FOR MEDIUM
Currently we are underway with one of our first branding projects. The process so far has been greatly exciting as we continue to feel out new ground for Pawb-Everyone. Reflecting on our current work so far we are already seeing what is working and what will require further work as we move forward to take on more projects and connect with more like-minded and like-hearted people.
Pawb-Everyone currently exists through the power of remote collaboration which allows us to work flexibly, in a way that is more kind to our own lives and the oft-sacrificed work-life balance. This fluid approach to working - outside of a fixed 'studio' also affords us the potential to flex and grow, drawing in connections, skills and expertise as required. This approach is something we feel is key to our work, and to sustaining a more healthy existence for both Pawb-Everyone and us as individuals. This philosophy, of a more ‘human-focused’ way of working applies to both us as Pawb and our clients, co-workers, and collaborators.
What is also being confirmed as we progress through our current project is that this is also helping us to build more positive, connected and more personal relationships with our clients. Relationships where we are not only more involved with the people we are working with, but relationships that also allow for a more involved contribution from 'clients' to creative work… Meetings in a café or public space so far seem more highly conducive to more helpful conversation: where the ‘barriers’ between designer and client can be easily and more palpably broken down and reduced. Barriers most prominent in 'top-end' big business agencies. Importantly, this provides us an enhanced opportunity to nurture the kind of relationships we want to have with our clients. Relationships that we feel have a greater value in both business and human terms, and which too further benefits the creative work: encouraging greater contribution and involvement from our partners. A collaborative approach where there can be an exchange of thoughts, feelings, and creative ideas that more organically draws on the insights and expertise of all around the table in a free-flowing way.
Critical project stages thus far are already feeling largely different, with a distinct difference between a creative pitch made across a cafe table to one made in a boardroom or studio meeting space. Again, we feel this encapsulates our values of working with people on the same level, with understanding. But this more informal, or ‘human-centred’ approach to our work and client relationships also brings work and projects that are arguably better received, more real and feel more close for the client.
Importantly too it is worth noting that such vital meetings and indeed our own creative time together ‘within’ Pawb are also bringing to light the vitality of face-to-face meetings, and both creative and social time together, when relying so heavily on remote working. Already we are finding that a deficit of this kind of devoted ‘real world,’ non-digital interaction and communication becomes very visible at points when this kind of interaction cannot, or is not upheld regularly: where progress has been slower, less refined or in need of greater support than expected.
Currently, the more remote creative process relies heavily on the abilities of individuals as creatives to work largely independently, and feed back or even pitch within group meetings, often again via digital platforms... Importantly this relies on the ability of people to work and problem-solve independently, where a studio team might be able to compensate and manage with better precision. In this regard, what we thus gain over a ‘traditional studio’ set up we do lose in other aspects. Crucially we lack the benefits of regular, fixed studio time, where we can collaborate consistently on projects and build upon ideas, creative whims, and problems easily and without the longer time periods that can come with creative processes happening in more isolation.
Thus far however, neither the strength of our design work or our abilities as each creatives of our own has been a problem, but in times that we have had concentrated time together this has always hugely catalysed the work and project as a whole, and brought valuable insight, ideas, and possibilities for exploration that might not have manifested themselves separately, or without some combined input.
What this makes clear is, as said, that the benefits of working in a studio allows for greater efficiency through virtue of both efficiency and expediency in communication and the immediate and social nature of working in a shared space. A lack of regular ‘studio time’ could also potentially bring other problems, and indeed put stress on the times that are spent together, making these events more precious but with that potentially more highly strung as well.
Remote working and collaboration clearly cannot replace the need and value in face-to-face working, discussion and sharing, where technology acts as a means for complimenting and furthering real world interaction and never a replacement for this. So, whilst we wish to wholeheartedly embrace new ways of working and the benefits, human value and understanding this can bring it is important to remember and acknowledge the value in the ‘traditional studio’ model. To us though, the concept of the studio can be interpreted as a wider, more global, fluid space – more incorporative of the client, the context of our world and of people – but it’s value also as a fixed place, a place of work and a creatively charged social space should not be ignored.
As we continue to progress we are finding that these elements are becoming more and more key, as we require more regular face-to-face working and collaboration - particularly at the early creative stages where ideas and experimentation are so important.
The value to a client too could also be argued as a notable attribute to the 'traditional studio,' as the financial costs of a fixed studio space could be seen to add a sense of legitimacy; a physical and geographical manifestation of a competent business perhaps. But this still may see a greater decline as the nature and form of new business, business thinking and ways of working continue to change.
We, nevertheless, are still finding that removed from a space set out by the designer to a more public, mutual space does seem to easily allow for a less restrictive and more interesting, free-flowing conversion. With the opportunity for greater value brought instead through human-focused relationships through a different, more open client/designer paradigm.