During categories 3 and 4 of New Zealand’s COVID response we launched Take 10 with… to do a pulse check on how our community was feeling, working, what you are missing, and learn about your hopes for the future. We think the format has merit as we transition into practice in the post-COVID landscape, and we had feedback that you really enjoyed the series so we tweaked the questions and invited more of our friends and peers to participate in these candid profiles of Aotearoa designers today.
Caitlin Thompson, Senior Designer at Designworks
How did you get into design?
After high school, I began a volunteer program in Costa Rica because I desperately wanted to be a marine biologist. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long to become evident I’m allergic to the sea, nature and everything in it so I turned to art/design. Equally exciting with fewer insects.
I studied at Whitecliffe under some pretty terrific lecturers. They had a genuine love for the creative industry and a real value for the arts so through them I established a similar sentiment and appreciation. After university, I began helping out the Barkers in-house team part-time, working under Duncan Grieve – although he wasn’t a creative director as such I learned a lot very quickly; attention to detail and appreciation for your craft isn’t unique to design and I believe it’s something that can be taught across disciplines then applied back into your own work.
What do you love about design?
I like the laughs and collaboration. At the core of every job, there’s a really exciting opportunity and often a quite complex problem to solve. The people you work with make all the difference to how much enjoyment you’re going to get trying to crack it.
How are you feeling right now?
I think now is an excellent time to push our approach to design and rethink the processes we’ve become comfortable with. Everyone has been affected by recent events, it’s forced us to take a step back from what we know, any idea of routine and provided an opportunity to do things differently. The easy assumption is that now is a time to play it safe, but as creatives, this should be an opportunity to problem-solve and take risks. In many respects, it’s very exciting.
What lockdown experiences would you keep going forward?
Flexible hours is a given, but working from home gave way to a new level of transparency within Designworks. I would try to have meetings from my bedroom, as my housemate did some awkward Les Mills-type bear crawl in my peripheral, my creative director’s house was basically built around him throughout lockdown, and there should be a minutes silence, to honour all the people who worked through lockdown with children. In some respects, it’s quite intimate, and as a team, it makes you more accommodating, because you’ve been made privy to a part of your co-workers lives you might never have had the same appreciation for under normal circumstances.
How does your workload compare to before the COVID-19 Lockdown?
Similar in terms of quantity, but more siloed in terms of variety. As is the nature of an event like this, some industries are thriving and others have had to pull back and that’s become very apparent and the type of work I’ve been doing.
Tell us about your current workspace. Are you still working from home? Or if you are back in your studio how has your workspace adapted?
I’m still working from home and I’ve set up a home office in my room to keep the common spaces free. Inevitably I end up sitting upstairs on the couch with our obese cat… neither of us can fit our jeans anymore.
What are you enjoying about the ‘re-opening’ of levels 1 & 2, which local businesses (or services) did you miss and enjoying reconnecting with?
I’m not the worlds best cook. I’ve consumed an unhealthy amount of Naked Kitchen’s Mexican Black bean Chilli on toast.
I love seeing people obviously… but I also love not having to rely on my own cooking for survival.
What’s your one tip right now?
I don’t know if I’m in a position to give ‘tips’ but for myself personally, I’m trying not to wallow too much on the news, reading enough to stay informed but not so much I lose perspective on things. It’s been a great time to re-establish old connections and contacts, even just on social terms.
What do you hope for the Aotearoa design community going forward?
The response around the world to this pandemic has shown us that as a tiny nation we work best when we tackle things in our own unique way. I saw a Washington Post article, praising New Zealand’s progress and I thought it’s a really good place to be, the bottom of the world, we can look out and see what everyone else is doing, but ultimately do what we want anyway or do it better.