This series profiles the best and brightest designers in Aotearoa’s in-house design studios, this week we spoke with Renée Norman, at KPMG a global leader in financial services.
Kia Ora Renee, can you describe the creative path you took to get where you’re at now?
I’ve always had a creative vernacular; the exploratory play was a fundamental part of my childhood thanks to both my parents also being creatively minded. Somehow, I attempt to incorporate this as an adult through my love of architecture, infrastructure and New Zealand’s landscape and culture. For me, creativity comes in a wide breadth of disciplines.
My career started out working on some of New Zealand’s most iconic film and television productions. I cut my teeth working in fast-paced environments, which as turns out, I thrived in. This experience obviously helps me as a strategic creative designer. Where the fundamentals of design are my new language.
What do you enjoy most about your job as Creative Designer at KPMG?
There is so much skill within our creative team, which always leads to great conversation around approaching our work. I love the interruptions and the sidebar conversations over what could or would work. Additionally, having the opportunity to be able to work with stakeholders that sit across multiple industries, for me that’s a well-rounded experience to lend creative solutions.
It’s not an inherently creative environment, which is a challenge but one that means there’s a greater opportunity for design to make a positive impact. It is important to me that I align myself with the values and culture that plays a large part in wanting to do great work.
What does your typical day at KPMG involve?
It is an agile environment. I could be working on a client proposal in the morning then I could be producing and directing film or photography in the afternoon. We always have projects that sit on our horizons – but the pace of the job really means that we can experience many different facets of work in one day.
What project, personal or professional, are you most proud of and why?
I have a huge affinity for our country and work that centres around Aotearoa – work that connects me the most with my whenua is the most rewarding.
There was a large piece of work that I was involved with early on in my design career while working at Land Information New Zealand, and with the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority. This truly changed the way I approached design. Creating work that had a real impact to real people. I learnt a lot about myself as a designer and it’s something I still consider to be a moving piece of work.
Is there a project you have undertaken in the last 12 months that is memorable because it challenged you? If so what did you learn from it?
I produced, filmed and edited a video for the Building Nation Symposium. It was a full day of filming inhouse. Pre-production for a shoot this long is important, and I work quite strategically through a run sheet. Not everyone is going to be comfortable in front of the camera, so I create a relaxed environment, coaching our subject experts through their dialogue. Shoots like this always challenge me, energy-wise. I feel like I switch on the moment the talent walks through the door. I’m always learning how I conserve my energy.
How much of your work is internal (supporting your colleagues) vs external (public) focused?
The work we produce is prominently externally focused in the shape of client proposals, unfortunately, some of our best work is work we can’t share.
Do you ever suffer brand fatigue working with the same visual language and or messaging if not how do you keep things interesting and diverse?
I live with a motto of ‘Constraints unlock creativity’ plus, I get to get to team up with a broad range of stakeholders who work with interesting clients, who all require different creative solutions. The challenge is to meet potential clients on a level where they see themselves working with KPMG. Besides this, I feel like it’s a challenge to work to the outer edge of the parameters of our brand.
Which technologies or innovations in design are you excited about?
It’s not technology at all! Getting back to basics of old school methods that have been lost through the course of technology, the routine, the nuance of skill, solving things on a pad of A3 paper – that’s innovation for me, it’s not new in the act of design.
Paula Scher has this great anecdote where she says, “I go to the ladies, put on my lipstick and figure it out” and that’s exactly what I do – I think it’s fantastic
Though I am still excited for that elusive ‘make it pop’ tool
Where you do you draw inspiration from?
I can never just sit down and decide okay now it’s time to design something amazing. Sometimes creativity strikes and it feels like I’ve pulled a design from thin air. Then as the project takes shape, I start to see influences of architecture, digital design, environment. Ideas can come from conversations with my team or tv shows… they all melt together navigating their way to fruition.