Quality time

In spite of the demanding nature of the job, some designers still manage to cram in a variety of weird and wonderful extra curricular activities.

Stress, demanding clients and long hours all contribute to design’s reputation as a pretty tough industry to work in. And whether you’re in a creative role or not, you will be aware of the pressure that can sometimes build up in a studio environment.

Many people in the industry counter this by putting what free time they have to excellent, or at least unusual use. Sport, music, art, dance, acting, poetry, flying, collecting and restoring are all pursued rigorously. The benefits of focusing on a non-work activity are highly therapeutic, according to these activists.

Keen footballers abound: Pentagram designer John Dowling trains every Wednesday for the Stick & Weazle pub in London’s Islington, playing in the right mid field position – “on the wing, because of my speed”. Graven Images’ Jim Hamilton plays for Albion Rovers, and Lee Wilson, designer at Dew Gibbons, is a ringer for a number of design groups.

Other sporty types are Adrian Talbot at Intro, who runs competitively, and Brewer Riddiford junior designer Roger Morgan, who cycles. He trains three or four nights a week, and enters competitions up and down the country. He took part in the SBV Milk Ras tour in Ireland, a nine-day stage race. “It helps me to relax,” he says.

Blackburn’s designer Sarah Roberts is another cyclist, but thrives on more perilous pursuits. Kloofing is a favourite – jumping from high rocks into water. Having injured herself in a bad kloof at Kamikaze Kanyon in South Africa, she did the world’s highest commercial abseil, at 112m, off Table Mountain with her arm in a sling. But perhaps even more demanding, she is teaching John Blackburn to play the piano.

Louisa Cameron, project director at The Partners, belongs to a go-karting endurance racing team, where they race for up to three hours in rotation. Addison new media director Lois Love flies friends to Ostend for lunch. She has been flying for eight years and rents a plane from Elstree. “My hairdresser took me flying and I was hooked,” she says.

Hobbies with a cultural bent are also popular. Roland de Villiers at Imagination makes films, Jones Garrard engineer Baptiste Gregoire sculpts, as does Ian Caulder at Caulder Moore. Kerry Harding, account manager at Lambie Nairn, paints at her studio in Brixton, and exhibits at Clapham Art Gallery. Din Associates’ Clare Millett is in an amateur dramatics group called Geoids. They meet once a week on Friday – “it keeps you out of the pub,” she says. Claire sang professionally for seven years and says of the group: “I just need an outlet for my singing.” Geoids is putting on a concert in September for the homeless in London’s Waterloo.

Priestman Goode designer Joe Heapy is a drummer with a nameless Latin percussion group, which puts on public performances in parks. The 20-strong band also plays at the High Fashion Music Cooperative on Brewery Road, Islington, on Saturday evenings. “I enjoy the fact that no one else in the group is a designer it gives a distance from my profession,” he says. David Mingay at Fitch is also a musician – he plays keyboard and harmonica in a funk band.

Virtually every consultancy boasts a DJ these days. Graven Images has graphic designer Daniel Ibbotson, who is releasing his third, as yet unnamed, CD for independent label Glasgow Underground Recordings. He describes his music as “house music on the listening side rather than club side”, and gets great satisfaction from “seeing my record on shop shelves”.

Collectors include Bronya Szatkowska, associate at PSD Associates, who is into Victorian chamber pots, and Dew Gibbons senior graphic designer Sine Brogger, who prefers 20th century Scandinavian products and furniture. Meanwhile, Sean O’ Mara at Fitch collects washing powder boxes.

But if an activity is going to be pursued seriously, work could well get in the way. Sam Hamman, head of words at Addison, finally had to give up rowing for Oriel Kensington in Hammersmith when the demands of training for competitions became too much on top of long days in the office.

Jones Garrard engineer Gavin Davison has given up fencing, walking and the Fuish accordion in favour of “smoking, driving up and down the M1, having my tea and going to bed”.

Others are more cagey about their after-hours pursuits, like the individual at McBrides & Grandfield who would rather remain anonymous. He keeps budgerigars.

Among these active types are some cries from the wilderness of “free time, what free time?”. Anne Gardner at TKO asked her team about their hobbies and got in reply, “Mutterings about how design saps the soul and there are never enough hours in the day. So now we all feel guilty for not being more rounded, interesting people – thanks!”

{storyLink(“DW199908270046”, “Rob Lamb, designer at Addison and designer Scott Parker at Graphics group Open.co.uk”)}

{storyLink(“DW199908270047”, “Ian Caulder, creative director at Caluder Moore”)}

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{storyLink(“DW199908270049”, “Rob Chan, visualiser and video editor, and Martin Lawless, designer, both at The Partners”)}

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{storyLink (“DW199908270052”, “ALastair Pether senior designer and studio manager at Hildebrand Design, and Maria Pether, designer and manager at Henrion, Ludlow and Schmidt”)}

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