Collaborate to start the creative juices flowing

Nothing remains static for long in the design business. Creative minds invariably come up with creative solutions to everyday problems, ways of working being a particularly prominent one.

Collaboration has been a theme over the past couple of years, as independent consultancies have joined forces with like-minded folk of different disciplines. It’s something Design Week has charted to identify new models to take design forward from its cottage industry origins to being a potent social and economic force.

This week we report three examples of collaborative work, involving individual designers as well as consultancies. Significantly, all three have trodden the path of the global conglomerate and emerged with a very different approach. The big one is interactive design star Malcolm Garrett, who has returned to the UK from Immersion in Toronto (see News, page 3). Last week we reported his involvement as creative director for Cognitive Applications’ Icons project. Now details of his concurrent associate directorship at Applied Information Group and roles at Assorted Images and Dublin group X Communications have emerged.

This is collaboration writ large. While other industry luminaries tend to go for non-executive directorships as a lucrative way of wielding influence, Garrett plans to be totally hands-on in all the roles he has taken on. The closest example is David Pocknell’s recent deal with Conran Design Group, where he heads the creative team, while continuing to work with his own Essex consultancy Pocknell Studios (DW 20 January).

Then there is Tim Fendley. As AIG founder, he sets his store by collaboration. His links with Garrett and subsequent dealings with X Communications, Cognitive Applications and Assorted Images bear this out.

While Garrett struggled to find fulfilment in Havas-owned Arnold Interactive, so Fendley went to ground after the mergers of his previous consultancy MetaDesign London, first with Icon Medialab and then with FutureBrand. Spirits tend to be broken by such deals.

This isn’t true though of Sasha Vidakovic, who quits Landor’s Italian office at the end of the month (News, page 3). There is no bad feeling between Vidakovic and Landor – he enjoys big identity jobs, having worked previously at Interbrand, Enterprise IG and Conran Design Group.

Though still in his 30s, Vidakovic is planning a solo career that goes beyond freelance. He plans to be a consultant to design groups looking to offer graphics and branding to clients.

These examples show that senior players can tailor their skills to bring benefits all round – not least to themselves as they strive to find less orthodox ways to work.

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