Meet our friends … StudioC Design
‘Meet our Friends’ series is where we take a moment to celebrate and share a little about the diverse studios who make up our DA Friends.
Today we spoke to our friends StudioC Design who shared with us their deep passion for co-design and gave us a peak into what a day in their work week looks like, including a tour around their epic studio nestled in the bush of the Blue Mountains.
Where are you based and what shape does the StudioC team take?
We are a tight-knit team of six creatives, co-designers, graphic designers, writers and spatial designers (plus Ollie, our studio border collie). You will find us hanging in the bush in the amazing Blue Mountains located out the back of the Hutt Valley outside Wellington.
The team is all about collaborative creativity, and when we don’t have the design skills needed for a project in-house, we lean on our collective members, who have a range of skills from animation to videography, photography, illustration and more.
When we are not connecting with clients or facilitating co-design workshops, you will find us deep in thought in our bush studio or working from home in our own creative bubbles.
We’ve heard the StudioC workspace is pretty unique. Can you take us on a tour and share what a typical day at the office looks like?
StudioC is nestled in the trees of the Blue Mountains, in a bespoke space designed by our Creative Director, Celeste Skachill, and built by her husband and Co-Founder, Glen Skachill. As you wind your way down a path through the native bush, you’ll see the small wooden studio, perched in the trees with a porch that looks out over the forest. The big windows let in plenty of sun, and we usually have the doors thrown open, with only the birds (and the occasional Ollie bark) to interrupt the peace and quiet.
The studio is a reflection of our creativity – the walls are peppered with post-it notes, sketches, design work being refined, and workshop facilitation prep. Ollie makes sure everyone remembers to take time out for a pat and break from screens.
There is no typical day in the office around here. The team works flexibly, which means working from home most days and coming together for connecting and collaborating in the studio one day a week. This usually involves donuts and a lot of laughter and chatting!
Is there a project your team undertook in the last 12 months that was memorable because of its challenge? If so, what did you learn from it?
Gosh how do we pick one project from the past 12 months…we’ve been very busy!
A definite highlight is our close collaboration with the incredible team at Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne, an ecosanctuary in the heart of Wellington. We’ve done lots of diverse design projects with them over the last few years, but one of the most exciting was refurbishing their foyer, which we turned from a static space into a multi-functional education room and exhibition space. We managed the project from concept through to the build and installation. The joy of watching people learn and engage in the space made all the hard work worthwhile.
What does the StudioC design process and philosophy look like?
We are co-designers at heart and passionate about creative collaboration to deliver design that makes people’s lives better. Our philosophy is that we design better, together. The ‘C’ in StudioC stands for ‘co-design’ and ‘creativity’ but it could equally stand for ‘communication’ and ‘connection’.
We deliver an end-to-end service and like to walk with clients through the whole journey. In partnership with organisations, we help them understand their customers and community, plan their strategy, and then translate this vision into aesthetically beautiful, yet practical, designs.
Tell us about your workplace culture at StudioC and how/if you’ve adapted your working style in the post-covid world and what tools/techniques you’ve adapted to stay connected as a team?
Gone are the days of wasted time in long commutes. Covid has meant we are far more flexible with where and when we work. StudioC can be run remotely from anywhere, even the middle of the forest! We are enjoying facilitating workshops online using Miro – although we still think there’s a certain magic in face-to-face workshops and run them this way when we can.
Our culture is focused on wellbeing and ensuring the team is supported to be able to deliver the highest quality work while having a lot of fun in the process. We’re intentional about scheduling time to connect and be together every week in the studio, as well as time to get into creative flow and ‘do the doing’.
What recent achievements or projects is your team most proud of?
The Everyday Heroes Annual Appeal Campaign for New Zealand Red Cross was a hugely rewarding project, designed to inspire people to make donations to support Red Cross’s important humanitarian work.
Rather than pitching a campaign idea, we worked with the client to develop a theme for the campaign, and then together we fleshed out stories and characters that would represent their key services. We landed on the theme of “hope”, which shows donors they have an opportunity to contribute and make change, despite the urgency and severity of global social and environmental problems.
The national campaign included a range of creative delivery including a TV ad, bus backs, billboards, and print and digital ads. We created all of the assets and photography/videography in-house within a very lean budget and tight timeline. The client was so stoked with the campaign, she said it gave her goosebumps!
Where to next for StudioC, what is your team working towards for 2022/23?
Over the next year we want to continue working towards being leaders in the practice of co-design, with a focus on conservation, education, healthcare and wellbeing, social services and the GLAM sector (galleries, libraries, archives and museums). We want to help make people’s lives better through meaningful design work that engages and connects.
Our fab team is growing, so if you like the sound of our philosophy and mahi and you’re looking for work opportunities, give us a bell!
The team have big plans for the longer-term future, including the addition of a larger studio in the bush for talks, workshops, retreats and a workplace centred in nature for wellbeing and creativity.