Mark reflects on the recent Werkhouse workshop.
A platform for students to experience studio life and work on commercial work in a supportive environment, helping to bridge the gap between education and industry.
What started off as five people having a chat over coffee turned into 12 months of planning, 150+ applications and 20 industry professionals delivering a 48 hour workshop for five teams of design students and junior designers. And I’m happy to report, it was a resounding success.
We went into this not knowing what to expect. Would there be an appetite for this sort of thing? Would the designers find it useful? Could we help better prepare students for agency life? Would they turn up? Could we afford to have Club biscuits?
“Making my way into Bristol for the very exciting first day of @WerkhouseBRS!”Laura Martins, Designer, true
We had applications come from all over – Falmouth to Bournemouth, even some from Sweden and Canada. There were many interesting applicants and it was a challenge to whittle them down to 32. The final selection were a talented bunch, all brimming with enthusiasm and eager to learn. Their energy was palpable.
We planned the format of the day to focus less on design execution and more on team work, idea generation and design thinking. Set in a commercial environment, to a realistic timeframe. Each team had a leader (including Ollie, one of our Senior Designers) for guidance, support and to help keep them on track. They were overseen by a group of Creative/Design/Managing Directors who spent time with each team.
Saturday was about getting under the skin of the problem and creative exploration. Towards the end of the day the teams—with the help of the directors—culled their ideas to focus on the strongest route to take forwards.
“Such an amazing first day with the @WerkhouseBRS team!! Can not wait to make more progress tomorrow!!”Louise Russell, Designer, true
Sunday was about refining the chosen route, building on the concept, articulating it visually and verbally, then pitching it to the internal stakeholder. Our head of Strategy, James, was on hand to play the role. He highlighted what was working well on each project and where there was room for improvement. But to be honest, the quality of thinking and work ethic on display was exceptional. So there were no tears.
The project was a joint collaboration between local professionals from companies including True, Taxi Studio, The Real Adventure, Hello, Design Rally, Mytton Williams, Proctor + Stevenson and the West of England Design Forum. There was a complete lack of ego in the room, agencies that often appear on the same pitch lists, working together with no sense of competition. Discussing process, ideas and what lies ahead for the industry. One thing that we all commented on was just how much we learned over the weekend, a happy by-product created by having so many people from different backgrounds and levels of experience all working together.
“Thank you to all the amazing creatives who gave up their time to make @WerkhouseBRS happen! what an amazing weekend, didn't want it to end!”Katie Fisher, Designer, true
As the weekend drew to a close there was a definite sense that people were sad it was coming to an end, myself included. It was clear there is an appetite for this type of platform, allowing students and designers from different backgrounds to come together, discuss their education and experience studio life. We are already in discussions about what lies ahead for Werkhouse, so watch this space.