DA Conversations Podcast with Celeste Skachill
Kia ora and welcome to Design Assembly Conversations. In our podcast series we talk to Aotearoa NZ designers, hear their stories and celebrate their work. This month across the entirety of the DA website we’ve put a focus on sharing the stories of female designers in honour of International Women’s Day.
In this month’s podcast episode we sit down with Celeste Skachill to learn more about her career path, lessons learned from launching her studio deep in the bush, her thoughts on design trends coming to the fore, and her studio’s approach to working with and expanding their remote team.
About Celeste Skachill
Celeste is the founder of StudioC, a Wellington-based creative studio, and is an expert in delivering design for communities.
Co-design, which is all about actively involving key stakeholders in the design process, is Celeste’s passion. She believes great design improves people’s lives in some way – and that’s always her end goal.
Working remotely and from StudioC’s 10sqm bush studio headquarters, Celeste and her team collaborate and work closely with organisations such as Zealandia, Te Papa and Red Cross co-design clear, relevant & engaging brand experiences. Ones that truly connect with their audiences.
Celeste’s design story started early in her childhood growing up in the far north, Kaitaia she was always at the beach creating artworks in nature in the sand. Apart from a short blip where she thought she might become a sky dive instructor, she always knew she wanted to pursue a creative career.
She went on to study Design at Massey University, thinking she would train to become a perfume label designer. After working on campaigns and a range of creative deliveries at Open Lab, her career path led her to become an Experience Designer at Te Papa where she worked on the design of events and exhibitions including Bug Lab, and Toi Art.
When Celeste’s good friend suddenly passed away, followed by her grandmother, she was forced to re-evaluate things. She knew she wanted to escape the traditional way of working – but how?
An experienced and ever-curious designer, Celeste decided to apply some of the co-design tools she used for client projects, such as persona maps to speed ideation, to her own life and to starting a business.
The process sparked a series of radical events, including quitting her 9-5 and launching StudioC Design with her partner Glen. They built a tiny studio in the bush in Upper Hutt with their own two hands, developed a team of six alongside a Collective of freelance creatives, and started focusing on truly intentional work.
StudioC provides end-to-end creative delivery grounded in co-design for purpose-led teams, especially in Conservation, Education, Healthcare, Social and community services, and the GLAM sector (galleries, libraries, archives and museums).
Being surrounded by stunning landscapes, native trees, birds and wildlife was a recipe for success for business. A few years on and Celeste’s radically different work environment fires her up daily, to help others think outside the box, maximise opportunities for change, and design experiences people love.