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Last week saw the launch of Table, the eight-strong multidisciplinary collaborative group involving Tim Pyne, Brian Shepherd and others (News, DW 25 April). Its founders claim that this new-style consultancy is tailored to the needs of clients. What do reckon are the advantages and disadvantages of such a high-powered, but ‘virtual’ group?

‘It sounds as if this is a formalised version of the sort of collaboration that has existed in the business for many years. Consultancies with particular expertise that enjoy working together have always gravitated towards each other when projects demand such collaboration. I’m not sure what is so different, but perhaps I’ve missed something.’

Douglas Cooper, Design consultant, John Lewis


‘Collaboration is always a good idea for both the principals and the potential client. Cross-fertilisation, creative integrity and offering the client management efficiencies and control are among the benefits that it can bring. Many clients are increasingly looking for people with specialist design skills who can work together, preferably with one point of contact. The only problem with a collaborative group can be that the client may expect an uneconomic fee base. However, there are good and bad clients, just as there are good and bad designers.’

Paul King, Chairman, M&K Creative

‘I wish the founders of Table the best of luck, but many of the greatest design groups have built a culture on the virtue of sharing the same physical studio location. Virtual organisations do make sense in theory, however, they can be pretty difficult to hold together in practice. The fees that they earn need to be real, not virtual.’

Jeremy Myerson, Director, Helen Hamlyn Research

Centre, Royal College of Art

‘A high powered, but virtual group could provide everything or nothing. What is being proposed by Table’s founders is nothing new, but merely a different description of having a close relationship with expert consultants. The key to success of ventures such as this is the phrase “close relationship”, otherwise the members of the group will simply prefer to work on their own projects.’

James Mair, Managing director, Viaduct Furniture

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