The Studio Effect

Necessity and creativity are the co-authors of change. This statement is the root of the phenomenon we internally refer to as the Studio Effect. A studio is literally translated as a place where something is taught, or studied. Most professions that have their root in art, film, architecture, design, dance, etc, began in the studio. To many of us, the studio represents a collaboration of ideas, a space or environment that fuels innovation, education, and mutually beneficial relationships with like minded individuals. The studio is where many of us can admit we have had the greatest flows of uninhibited ideas.

Where does the necessity come into all this? Picture yourself having gone to a well known, highly ranked design school, you traveled the world, graduated with honors, and moved out of the studio environment and into an office. Luckily, in time, you moved up to the point where you made a successful living doing paperwork and managing people. This is the corporate ladder, and there is nothing at all wrong with it. However, the necessity came in when the world started thinking differently. Projects became more scarce, economic infrastructure became weak, and clients became more conscious of their dollar. The true idea of value engineering is the norm, not an afterthought. The world of the large Taj Mahal office, superfluous budgets, and 8-5 office hours is slowly being abandoned. We are going back to our roots, to a new world, without spatial constraints, and hidden overhead fees. We are going back to the studio. The studio isn’t a space, but an idea; not a curriculum, but a concept. Our office is anywhere we are, anywhere we feel inspired, anywhere that allows us to problem solve to the best of our ability and to the benefit of our clients and projects, may that be in our actual “designated” studio space, or out in the world seeing and doing.

We have heard time and time again that necessity is the mother of invention. As we move into the world where the right brain dominates and good design is expected at a fraction of the cost, the necessity is to stand out in vision and value.

The main result, the effect is to think outside of ourselves and the constraints of our minds and what we think an office should be. We struggled with this, coming from corporate American back into a world that feels strangely like a university and less like a job. To be honest, it took some time to embrace this idea, to be ok with something that didn’t feel like we had moved forward in evolution, but backwards. The truth is, we are more productive, more imaginative, and are able to offer something to our clients that is real, honest, and inspired, which for our profession, is what should have ALWAYS been the focus, but it was lost somewhere in translation. That is the main reason why we see this as not just a fleeting fad, here and gone before anyone can truly grasp it, but the future of our industry, and possibly business in general.

Dan Pink, the author of “A Whole New Mind” asked Karim Rashid to create a list of guidelines on how to incorporate a “designers’ philosophy into our every day lives. Referred to as his “Karimanifesto”, Rashid outlines philosophies that easily blend with the idea of the Studio Affect. A few of his points are as follows:

“Know everything about the history of your profession and then forget it all when you design something new.”

“Consume experiences, not things.”

“Think extensively, not intensively.”

“Experience is the most important part of living, and the exchange of ideas and human contact is all life really is. Space and objects can encourage increased experiences or distract from our experiences.”

Karim’s final guideline: “Here and now is all we got.”

When necessity forced us, or lovingly guided us into this way of business, we felt like we had moved backwards because in all actuality, we did. We moved back to our roots. Ironically, to go back to our roots, is to move forward. Welcome to the new world.

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