What's it like working at ... Design Studio
Tell us a short history of Design Studio and your role there
DesignStudio is 10 years old! Our founders, Paul and Ben, started the agency after working for a wide variety of businesses in the industry, from large owned agencies to small boutique shops, and realising there was a very real gap in the market for a brand agency that could marry a personal approach to clients with really creative problem-solving and world-class execution.
My role as Client Service Director is to ensure all of our clients, from new business prospects to longterm relationships, have the best possible experience working with us.
I work closely with the leadership and Client Services team to field the right teams for the work, check in with them throughout their programme with us, and help them see the value of our work beyond the “scope”. I also coach and mentor the Client Service team.
Do you think you have a ‘design style’ or how would you best describe your work?
‘Design style’ is not really a relevant term for a brand agency as the solutions we need to deliver to clients should be authentic to them. But our work is always pushing the boundaries for our clients, demonstrating to them how their business can transform and grow based on essential truths about what makes them special. We call that Meaningful Difference.
What does a normal day look like for you?
I am up when the toddler is up, so usually around 6 am (it’s pretty rough when it’s earlier) and then it’s a tightly orchestrated manoeuvre to get everyone fed and dressed and out the door on time. I leave at 10 to 8 for the nursery drop off, and then catch a bus or cycle to our office in Old Street.
On a good day I’m at my desk by 8:30, and then it’s emails, calls, meetings, and 1:1s depending on the day. I try to take a walk at lunchtime just to clear my head.
I work flexi-time and leave at 4:30 on the dot to do the nursery pickup, and I’m strict about turning my phone off until bedtime is over and I’ve had a chance to catch up with my partner. I log back on for an hour or so in the evening to sweep up any outstanding emails or review deliverables from my teams before signing off for the day.
What’s your career journey been like to date?
I’ve had a fairly linear career journey with a few big shifts – I studied design in uni but knew deep down I’d want to be in the management side of the industry, rather than hands-on designing, so went straight into a Masters degree after graduation. I wanted to focus on museums and work in the exhibition development sector, but my first and only job in this area was slow and traditional and I realised I needed the buzz of a much pacier environment. By chance I got a call from Landor about a Client Services role and made that change which set me on my current path; they also helped me move from New York to London, which gave me the international outlook I craved.
Everything I’ve done to now has led me to this role and given me the tools to be successful here.
I spent 7 years at Wolff Olins honing my understanding of business strategy and brand delivery, where I also learned the ins and outs of managing a team and how to run a business.
What would you be doing if you weren’t Client Services Director at Design Studio?
I’d have convinced my partner to sell everything and buy a crumbling palazzo in Venice to restore and be running a cichetti bar.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Seeing my team grow in confidence and celebrating their individual wins.
Independent agency or group agency? Have you experienced the difference yet?
It’s hugely different, and neither is preferable. The flexibility and direct action of an independent agency is liberating but the immediate day-to-day reality of the business operations can be overwhelming.
I think it’s healthy to be able to work successfully in both environments.
There is reassurance in the group agency model but not having direct control of hiring, strategic delivery, and longterm planning can be stifling.
What are your predictions for Design Studio and it’s growing fame?
We’re growing and strengthening and we’re going to launch some fantastic new work this year that will really demonstrate our ability to solve a variety of complex business problems for our clients.
We’re excited about the future and how we can continue to deliver compelling work that we’re proud of.