What one skill should all aspiring designers have?

Designers tell us what attributes they look for when hiring junior designers.

Stuart Youngs, executive creative director, Purpose
Stuart Youngs, executive creative director, Purpose

“The ability to problem-solve. 

Without this fundamental skill a designer (at any level), has little purpose.

While few would expect a junior designer to have mastered it, showing they have the potential to solve problems with intelligence, flair and creativity makes them very employable.

Typically, this means demonstrating they can:

• Frame a problem.

• Understand and unlock it. 

• Communicate and test their thinking.

• Make their solutions connect. 

This gives confidence a designer will deliver ideas that inspire, transform and endure.

As Purpose, that’s what we need.”

Stuart Radford, creative director, The Partners
Stuart Radford, creative director, The Partners

“Is attitude a skill? I’m not sure. But I do know that beyond talent it’s the one thing that makes the biggest difference.

The right attitude is everything. It means they love what they do, they push themselves harder, they take their thinking further and have a willingness to adapt or abandon ideas along the way to get the best result.

All of which means they develop into a designer with the ability to consistently deliver great work – and that’s definitely a skill.”

Daniela Nunzi-Mihranian, creative director, Studio Minerva
Daniela Nunzi-Mihranian, creative director, Studio Minerva

“We look for a sense of humour!

Don’t take things too seriously, be positive, be relaxed and learn to laugh at yourself. Smile and laugh more; even at the mad intensities around you.

Learn from your experiences and engage with people in a happy and passionate way in order to shine through.

And in the words of Dr. Seuss: ‘Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!'”

Ben Christie, creative partner, Magpie Studio
Ben Christie, creative partner, Magpie Studio

“Assuming that a certain level of design and thinking ability is evident in their portfolio, I’d say the most vital ingredient for us in a junior is passion.

In a small studio we really need everyone to have the passion to produce great work and to realise the hard graft and energy that has to go in around that to make it happen. It’s surprising how many graduates we meet that just don’t seem to ‘get it’.

It doesn’t necessarily mean working long hours, more a continued positive and proactive mindset. Never getting too comfy (in a good way) and always willing to roll one’s sleeves up and get stuck in, whatever the task. 

No matter of seniority, the best creative work is produced by those who are truly passionate about that they do and will whatever it takes to make it happen.”

Heidi Lightfoot
Heidi Lightfoot, creative director, Together Design

“There are a number of helpful attributes for a junior; such as friendliness, passion and dedication. And an eye for design is a must.

But hands down, non-negotiable, top of the list for us when we’re recruiting is curiosity.

Curiosity means enough nosiness to delve around the studio and learn from everyone here, an inquiring mind that will strive to understand and empathise with varied clients and projects, plus an inquisitive nature to jump in at the deep end!”

Kevin Palmer, founding partner, Kin Design
Kevin Palmer, founding partner, Kin Design

“It’s not a skill as such that I look for. Skills can be taught and any designer with intellect and intrigue can (and should) turn their hand to a multitude of skills.

Its more of an attitude that I’m interested in. Someone who has confidence, who can talk, who can listen, who can present, who can communicate an idea, someone who the whole studio can work with.

Importantly though someone who is not just another one of us – someone who has a point of difference that can move us forward.”

Simon Manchipp
Simon Manchipp, co-founder, SomeOne

“We call it ‘The Trip to New York’.

Clearly you need to be absolutely un-flipping-believable at whatever you’re hired for. So get that right first. But that can be all sorts of things. From tweeting to typography to tweening.

But one thing we look for — regardless of the job description — is the ability to spend eight hours sitting next to someone from SomeOne on a flight to NYC.

That’s not a refined zen-like majesty enabling one to remain in a seat at altitude without the need for sustenance or toilets. Although that would be a good opener.

A trip to New York will involve you in many facets, and several faucets. Will you fall at the first hurdle and rather bore your companion in the cab? Shall panic take you to rush for gate 23 in fear of shoe bombers, or could you luxuriate in one more spoonful at the Caviar House & Prunier? Whatever happens, are you just bloody good company?

We meet dozens and dozens of hopefuls gagging to join SomeOne’s ever-expanding club (I blame our yearly trip to Ibiza). But if you make us think you’d be a giggle on the way to see a gig at Madison Square, you’ll probably stand a better chance of getting in than the grad who got a first but can’t hold eye contact.

This is all for a very important reason. In our business, people buy people. And if we don’t  buy into you, we doubt others will. Plus we’re likely to spend more time together than is commonly seen as healthy, so you’ll want the people you work with to be as interesting as you are.”

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  • Kevin McElligott March 17, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    It always bugs me when people refer to designing as problem solving. I have never found it a problem.

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