DA Pulse Check #7 – Conversations on Covid-19 and Aotearoa NZ Design

11 months ago by

We are 6 months into Aotearoa’s COVID response with Auckland in Category 3 and the rest of the country in Category 2 we reached out to design studios around the country to see how they are doing right now and what unexpected benefits or positive outcomes they have experienced from the COVID pandemic response.

Thanks to our principal partners Blutui, Portfolio Recruitment, mychillybin, and Streamtime, as we navigate the post-covid landscape DA is continuing our conversations with Aotearoa NZ design. This week Nicole Arnett Phillips, (DA Editor) heard from:

Laura Cibilich, Design Director at RUN

Johnson McKay Creative Director at FLY

Simon Ellery Creative Director at White Rabbit; and

Nico Speziali Creative Director & Angelique Thorne Senior Producer of Fox & Co Design

We know 2020 has brought a lot of challenges, it is a tense time for most of us – COVID has radically reshaped the way we work, socialise, travel and live. In that change there have been some unexpected benefits;

Adapting Practice

Businesses (both our design studios and our clients) have used the gaps in their typical programming to work on their businesses rather than in their businesses. For White Rabbit that has meant they were able to help clients re-brand and update collateral. For Fox & Co this manifested as scheduling in time for strategy and development as a team priority

Johnson Mckay thought that although the remote working did provide barriers to collaboration, FLY had adapted well to using technology in their workflow such as zoom.

Fox & Co also implemented new production processes and redefined their team roles and responsibilities which allowed us to communicate more efficiently and have increased our productivity.

Nico and Angelique go on to say; The biggest lesson we’ve learnt is that adapting to an ever-changing world is key to surviving in the creative industry. In an instant, everything can change as we’ve seen, but the key lies in having a flexible business model that can be pivoted to meet new economic environments. 

Working from Home

Simon Ellery notes one of the main benefits for me has definitely been the commute. Johnson Mckay agreed he loved the lack of travel and being able to have comforts of home close by. Simon went on to say: Walking up the stairs beats sitting in traffic any day. I can get on top of my inbox by the time I would usually get into the office.

This sentiment was shared by Fox & Co the whole team developed a new routine and fell in love with the idea of working from home. We’ve continued to implement a ‘Work from Home’ policy with two mandatory team days in office.

Diversifying clients & services

RUN has gained new clients in the health and wellness industry. And being able to help smaller businesses we wouldn’t usually get to work with, through our Pay What You Want for a Website offer and the RBPN voucher scheme. White Rabbit has been developing new ways (mostly online solutions) to help their clients change the way they do business and pivot in a new direction. Some of these new avenues have meant we have set up clients with additional revenue streams which should really see them really flourish once things are back to normal.

Nico and Angelique tell us Fox & Co are in the process of developing a new product offering for clients inspired by people’s general behavioural changes during lockdown.

More time with our whānau

Laura Cibilich has enjoyed the time to discover “more about my young kids – like how far they can actually walk!” Johnson also noted this extra time with family as being one of the key benefits.

Practice became more personal

Fox & Co have grown closer as a team as a result of those casual ‘check ins’ during lockdown. Overall, as unsettling as lockdown was and still is, our team uses work [which is a passion for all of us] as a distraction from the ‘real’ world and it shows. We buckle down and find comfort in doing what we love most!

Building upon trust

Nico and Angelique identify the importance of having well-established relationships with clients. This made it easy for us to support them as they worked through a changing world with marketing requirements that had to be pivoted and executed quickly. Having those relationships in place, and having successfully worked with them remotely prior to lockdown, meant that they fully trusted us to get the job done.


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