Tell us a bit about your role at SODA Studio — what does it involve?
As Head of Graphic Design at SODA, I manage the various live projects and ensure that the team are on track. We encourage cross project sharing, so it’s important to take a step back from what you’re designing, stick things up and review them with an outside perspective, regardless of whether it’s architecture or graphics.
I oversee all the SODA social media channels, website content and marketing material. As a team we ensure everything outward facing reflects who we are. We also run in-house self-initiated projects. This year so far we’ve designed a publication, the SODA Review, which has now been entered for the Design Week Awards, and we’re also currently creating a series of t-shirts for the summer.
"It’s important to take a step back from what you’re designing, stick things up and review with an outside perspective."
Before SODA, you worked for a number of international branding agencies. Why did you make the move into designing for an architecture and design practice? What is the importance of branding for a graphic designer in the world of architecture?
Initially, I moved to SODA to help rebrand and reposition the business. The full rebrand, including web build, stationery collateral and launch event took a year and, within that time, we started to win new projects inclusive of graphic design. Realising the opportunity to design simultaneously with architecture, we jumped at the chance.
There are similarities in the way architects and designers approach projects, which allowed us to develop a creative steps system, to share design strategy and encourage cross influencers — for example, materiality and colour palettes. A building is as much a brand as the identity itself. It can dictate behaviour and brand experience, that works seamlessly with the brand communication. As a designer, it’s exciting to apply a graphic approach to architecture, weaving a brand story into buildings/spaces at an early stage.
Tell us a bit about your creative process.
It’s different for each project but usually I start by visiting the brand/company, digesting the brief and immersing myself in their surroundings. I want to find out who they are and what they do. From there, I’ll start to map out design ideas, combining photographs, initial sketches, colour inspiration and typography. I like to have a constant dialogue with clients to help build trust, excitement and check you’re on the right path! Following these first steps ultimately underpins the brand direction, but most importantly it cuts potential void work before committing to the pencil.
What are your main sources of inspiration for your work?
Other than the obvious online inspiration hotspots, my main inspiration has always been from doing. It’s important to expose yourself to the unfamiliar, pushing comfort zones in every sense. Designing is a conversation, so the more you discover, the broader your design communication becomes, and the ideas with it.
"It’s important to expose yourself to the unfamiliar, pushing comfort zones in every sense. Designing is a conversation, the more you discover, the broader your design communication becomes and the ideas with it."
"I love the diverse and eclectic set of briefs, spanning through a multitude of disciplines. It keeps me on my toes, I’m constantly learning on the job - collaborating with all manner of artists and specialists."
What do you love most (and least!) about your job?
I love the diverse and eclectic set of briefs, spanning through a multitude of disciplines. It keeps me on my toes, I’m constantly learning on the job — collaborating with all manner of artists and specialists. The thing I like least is the administration, as with any career, the further up the ranks you climb, the more the admin becomes a daily task. Time consuming, yes, but essential!
What is one thing you wish you’d known at the start of your career?
At art school you’re in a bubble, your timescales are lengthy and you’re rarely restricted to an output or any real cost implications (other than your student loan!). Working within limitations is more reflective of industry practice. If you can master timescales and budgets early on, you’ll sail through! Try time-managing your hours spent on projects, using an eight-hour day as a realistic template. Also setting budgets prior to starting projects can help speed up overall projects, through decision-making and prioritising where you’re spending your money.