Designing for designers

My name is Laura, I am the Studio Manager for Meld Studios in Sydney and Melbourne. This blog post is about my experience at Meld and how it has shaped me, my role and changed my mindset as a whole.

Background

I come from a corporate background having worked in companies such as Deloitte, Herbert Smith Freehills and Marsh Insurance. These companies ran like well-oiled machines. There was a process and procedure for everything that had been designed many moons ago and needed to be followed exactly. So, when I began working at Meld in 2015, I waited to be told how things are run and how I should follow their process. This ended up not being the case. I was given the freedom to implement and create my own studio management processes to my heart’s desire. The only problem was knowing where to start and how to know if I was designing the right things. Was this just what I thought was important, or what the company needed? I was stumped, how do I go about this?!

Where I changed my mindset to think like a designer

Rather than sticking to my old way of doing things, I decided to take a step back, soak up everything around me, interact with the designers and see how they applied design to the work they did and put out into the world. I realised that this was the golden ticket. It was like a lightswitch had gone off in my head, if I could apply the design process internally it would have to have a positive change at Meld.

I started by working with the designers around me. They guided me in Meld’s design process and how I could apply this internally. This meant collectively generating ideas, coming up with concepts, testing them, getting feedback and continuing to refine these processes. Some processes that have been changed/or implemented at Meld are: templates for workshops and events; travel procedures; expenses; ordering for supplies; staff onboarding and hardware purchasing.

Meld---Studio-Manager-Process

How design has changed my role

Applying the design process not only changed my mindset and the way I worked at Meld but the way I looked at my life. I started to apply design to every concept in my life. It was like I could change whatever I wanted to: taking back control of my life and designing it specifically for me.

Meld is such an inspiring place to work. The people, the culture we have, the work we do, and the acceptance and value we have for each other – it’s a family. I am forever grateful for being pulled into the remarkable world of Meld because it has helped me be the best version of myself and given me the freedom to work collectively and collaboratively with a wonderful group of people that all support each other’s strengths and imperfections.

If you are working for a design company and would like to apply this process, here are my six tips:

  1. It’s action research, learning as you’re going. No one is expecting you to have all the answers. Part of the fun is being able to come up with ideas together, as you are working.
  2. Put out a raw concept to test. Design a rough concept, test it, get feedback and refine it. It’s all about tweaking things and testing them out to see if they do work. It doesn’t have to be a finished sparkling product.
  3. Be open to receiving feedback. When entering into the spirit of collective problem solving, we have to remember to leave our egos at home. When receiving feedback remember it’s to help solve the problem at hand.
  4. Have group accountability. Figure out collectively the standards we will hold ourselves accountable for.
  5. Everyone is a team player. The concepts are designed for everyone to participate, your role is to help facilitate this.
  6. You are important and your work is just as important as the work that everyone else is doing. The only difference is that you look inward and design for the team around you.

I hope this has been insightful and you can take even just one thing from this.