We love the opportunity to get to know our DA friends better, so we’re happy to get the chance to speak with Danielle Barclay — Founder of Blur the Lines. An independent design collective creating brand experiences that blur the lines between the physical, digital and virtual worlds. We spoke to Danielle about the catalysts for starting her own agency, the multi-disciplinary nature of the practice, the mahi she is proud of, making bold career moves, and what success looks like.
Being a DA Friend means you’re helping us to build a thriving New Zealand design scene. Your subscription has direct benefits for you too. Be Seen. Be Heard. Be Friend. Sign up here.
Who or what were the early creative influences that led you toward design as a career?
My first influence was my grandfather. To me he was a very talented man, turning his hand to oil painting, ceramics, interior decorating and even floristry. Creativity as a form of self-expression was always encouraged as a child which led me to study interior design in later life.
New businesses often begin with an itch that needs to be scratched! Can you describe the catalyst for your founding Blur the lines?
For me the catalyst was a global pandemic. During the first lockdown in Auckland, I found myself questioning the universe and decided I wanted to be in control of my own destiny and step out on my own. With the creative industry all working from home suddenly previous barriers to new models were removed and I saw an opportunity to embrace the change and create a new design collective focussed on multi-channel experiences.
What shape does the collective take?
The concept behind the collective is about flexibility, focus and access to expertise. Working at a senior level in global agency models always came with its frustrations for me, a lot of time spent in management meetings and not enough time spend just being creative. I work as a strategist and creative director and I bring in trusted collaborators and experts in their field to suit the project.
You just launched your first project for comvita, what was the most challenging aspect of that project and what did you learn from it?
I think the biggest challenge was timing and staying on track despite 3 lockdowns and a tsunami warning!
From first concept presentation to launch was only 6 months to deliver a store, website, augmented reality app and immersive tasting experience. The key learning from me was having a trusted relationship with your client makes a huge difference to the speed you can move as well as the power of a committed team able to focus 100% on the project.
Now that project has launched what are you working on?
Comvita is keeping us pretty busy optimising and further developing the experience as well as developing concepts for other markets overseas.
What project (personal or professional) are you most proud of? Why?
Comvita Wellness Lab is my proudest moment as it really showcases everything I’m passionate about as a designer. It has been a highly rewarding experience and I think the fact it is my first project as an independent design agency makes it extra special.
Can you give an example of where your work has delivered an unexpected return on investment for your client?
We never imagined the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern would show a personal interest in the Comvita Wellness Lab project and come to experience it for herself. In terms of unexpected ROI I think this certainly ticks that box from a PR perspective but also the added boost of pride and confidence it gave to Comvita staff as well as those who have been a part of the project.
What’s the boldest thing you’ve ever done in your professional life?
Resign as a senior executive in a creative agency mid pandemic to go out on my own with no clients or projects secured.
What does career success look like to you?
For me its being able to express my creativity to its full potential whilst having work-life balance…I feel like I’m finally on the right path to see this come to fruition.
Finally, where can we see more of your work and connect with you
Here’s my website: https://www.weblurthelines.com/
Social: Linked In
Photography: Kieran E Scott https://www.kieranescott.com/