Being A Designer: Your Studio
Welcome to the first instalment of an ongoing series of articles that I've decided to call Being A Designer. If you're successful as a freelance designer and/or lucky enough to work in (or even own) a smashing design studio, the chances are you've hired an interior designer, or at least thought about it. In this article, I will talk about a few important factors about the appearance of design studios, and show you a few inspiring examples of what I think constitutes as a seriously kick-ass workspace.
Why have a design studio, anyway?
Firstly, why have a design studio in the first place? Lets face facts. When it comes to being a designer, first impressions are everything, and there comes a time (actually, very often) when a client will judge you ("the book") by its cover. Their first impression of you might be the first e-mail that you replied to; did you write it well? Maybe it was a telephone call; were there lots of "Erms" and "Ahhs"? For even the best of us, it's very hard to break the ice and win over a client. You want to really sell yourself, appearing to be successful, but without seeming desperate. Inviting the client into your well-furnished design studio, to talk through their creative needs, is a way of rolling out that generic "I'm the best designer ever" speech that needs to be said, but doesn't necessarily need to be heard.
What message should I be silently sending out?
In your design studio, those clean white walls expresses your love for minimalism. Being ready for your meeting with the client shows that you're punctual. Your gratuitous handshake, beaming smile, and your polite "Hello, how are you mate?" instantly makes them feel welcome. Offering the client a drink or snack implies that you're attuned to their needs. More importantly, the "Oh...my God. I want to live here!" interior design shines down on them like warm rays of awesome. It's also a useful ice-breaker. "You have a lovely studio, how long have you been here?" - this is an amazing opportunity to explain your success and length of experience. If you started out as a freelance designer, explain how your success allowed you to expand. Whether you're a web developer, a digital artist, a graphic designer, a photographer, an illustrator, or absolutely anything creative, a design studio says everything about you and the way that you work. Lets have a look at a few examples, and what we can learn from them.
Being More Than A Designer
Inviting a client into your design studio is clearly an opportunity to show them your portfolio and skills, but it's also an opportunity to show them what else you're interested in. Maybe you can find a common interest, or maybe it will be a simple ice-breaker, but more importantly, showing the client that you're also passionate about more than taking their money in exchange for goods and services can go a long way in proving that your company is the right one to hire. Lets look at the example below: a design studio interior from The Bio Agency, a respectable web design company that upholds very high standards in eco-friendly work environments.
Plants increase creativity. Seriously, that's a fact! Having a few shrubs in your office increases creativity by 15%, so this bio-studio is already a brilliant idea. If you have flowers in your office, you might want to mention this interesting little fact to your clients. Plants compliment those rustic wood floors nicely, and it really is simply refreshing to be in a natural and organic environment. The Bio Agency calls it a "Greenhouse for ideas to blossom" and I agree. Now, I don't know if they had this in mind when they decorated this design studio, but the most important factor that I'm trying to iterate is this: you are more hire-able if you care about something. Whether it's being eco-friendly, like in this example, or it's endangered monkeys, showing that you have a heart is always another incentive to hire you over a design agency without a soul. What do you care about?
Expressing Your Work Ethic
If you work with other designers (whether they're digital illustrators or graphic designers), finding a way to show off their work ethic can also make your case stronger. After all, the client is not only hiring you, but they're hiring your company too, and that includes everybody in it. A strong work ethic is a very desirable trait that clients look for, and they expect you and your fellow designers to be hard-working and of respectable character. Look at the design studio of Kult Singapore in the example below. Clients want to see your colleagues tapping away on the keyboard, not wondering "Ah, where is everyone?" - in fact, why not introduce the client to a few of the designers, and have them explain what they're working on? I can't tell you how many times I've been in the "Hmmm, I like that! Could you do something similar for me, but with these colours, this writing, and this font?" scenario. Happens all the time.
Be Proud Of Your Designs
My advice when designing is to always design as if it's being hung in an exhibition. If you're not happy to show it off, how do you expect your clients to feel the same way? In the example below (which is Upperkut design studio), you can see how their illustrations and designs are literally incorporated into the interior design. Not only is this extremely attractive, but it breathes confidence in the clients face without appearing arrogant.
Being A Designer: What Else?
So, there you have it, 3 tips about your studio's interior design (which I hope you've found useful), that can help you bring in the big bucks without having to sell your soul. If you did find this article useful, I encourage you to share and tweet, and maybe let us know (in the comments) what sort of articles you'd like us to cover in the future. Being A Designer will be an ongoing subject, so we'd definately appreciate your comments, or if you'd like to take it a step further, maybe you'd like to write for us? Our door is always open to suggestions and collaborations. So until next time, bye!
About the author
I'm Daniel Schwarz. I'm the founder/editor of Airwalk Design as well as creative director and designer at Airwalk Studios. When I'm not designing for startups I write regularly about Sketch App and other design-y things for Designmodo, Creative Market, SitePoint and Smashing Magazine. I'm 24 years of age and currently active in the digital nomad movement. I love Sketch App, travel and writing.