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Studio Culture

Unit Editions is collaboration between Tony Brook (Spin) and Adrian Shaughnessy (ShaughnessyWorks) and dedicated to progressive publishing and to producing high-quality, affordable books on graphic design and the visual arts.

Unit Editions combines impeccable design and production standards with insightful texts and informative commentaries to make books for anyone with an interest in visual culture.

A book recommended by the Qompendium Editorial Board

Sunday, 29.11.2009
18:15 (Cet)

Recommend this to your friends and spread the word.

The desire to own and run a studio is part of the graphic designer’s DNA: it’s a rare designer who hasn’t contemplated setting up his or her own studio. Even amongst studio owners there is a perpetual hunger to know how ‘others do it.’ But where does the curious designer go for insight into how studios are run and developed? The studio is a neglected subject in graphic design commentary and literature. And it’s even rarer to hear designers talk publicly about the ways in which they run and develop their studios.

Until now, that is. Studio Culture provides a unique glimpse into the inner workings of 28 leading graphic design studios. In a series of penetrating interviews, the secret life of the studio is revealed, and the mechanics of building and maintaining a vibrant studio culture are laid bare with disarming frankness. Studio Culture’s editors Tony Brook and Adrian Shaughnessy conduct penetrating interviews with the founders of landmark international design studios of all sizes and producing all kinds of work. The book contains pictures of the interviewees’ studios, as well as examples of their work. Studio Culture is a book for both seasoned professionals who have been running studios for years, and for idealistic designers contemplating starting up. It is the complete guide to creating, maintaining and growing a studio culture.

An excerpt from the book: Michael C. Place, Build

Michael Place is the designer’s designer. His work is admired around the world. For nine years he worked at Designers Republic, the influential Sheffield-based design group. But like many designers he had an itch to ‘do it all’, and in 2003 he moved to London and set up Build in partnership with his wife Nicola, who at the time was working as a digital artist at Sony Playstation. Michael Place’s highly crafted and intricate work is the product of hours of painstaking labour, and is clearly the output of a designer with a strong sense of personal commitment. As Place says: ‘I love doing.’ In the early days of Build there was no plan to grow, but over the years there has been slow evolutionary growth and recently the Build studio acquired its first full time employee. Now with a steady flow of clients attracted to Place’s vivid and intense style, growth and all
its attendant demands seem unavoidable. The interview was conduced at Build’s North East London studio.

What prompted you to start your studio?
Michael Place: I’d worked in small studios as an employee, and after nearly a decade at Designers Republic, I could see how studios were run and I found it really interesting. I also wanted the experience of actually getting clients, going to meetings – which I didn’t get to do very often at DR – and then doing the job and getting paid. Having a studio allowed me to do this. I was 30, so I wasn’t exactly young, and I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I also wanted to have the opportunity to say – if I don’t want to work
today then I won’t work today.

Did you wake up one day and think ‘I’ve got the confidence, now I’m going to set up on my own’?

MP: The strange thing is that it wasn’t a definite decision. Nicky and me both quit our jobs and did a year’s travelling before moving to London from the North of England. So we obviously knew that we were going to do something new, but it was a seat-of-thepants kind of thing, and it built up gradually and organically.


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