Rainsford Mann Design studio

FRANCE, Aix-en-Provence. Inspiration for design can come from anywhere, from what is around you, to objects in the home, the street or in the office. For designers such as Alex McDiarmid, creating the right environment in the studio has a large impact on the level of creative output. In SuperyachtDesign Q17, the young designer touched on some of the key elements needed to achieve the right working environment, some of which are outlined here.

The ambience of a design studio is often notable for its marked informality. Yet before it can be truly productive, an understanding of how it functions, in particular the social psychology — human nature, if you like — along with the effects of cognitive, sensual and emotional factors, is essential. These elements all contribute to successful design creativity and ultimately productivity.

Certain factors are subconsciously at play in the background while the designer works. Integrated and managed properly it is a working environment unlike any other, which produces extraordinary results. Over time I have observed that stimulating lateral thinking and creativity in the design studio requires some key elements regardless of culture or design discipline.

The first yacht design studio I worked in was a converted sail loft. Its tall ceilings, full-height architectural glass partition walls, plants and parquet floor had a uniform look and kept the space from feeling chaotic or oppressive. In order to explore this topic further, I called on Patrick le Quément, the former senior VP of Renault Corporate Design. He recalls key factors when establishing the first Renault design studio.

“Environment and creativity is what this is all about,” says le Quément. “A nice comfy environment is not the objective, neither is an overwhelming décor that dwarfs the individual. Encourage a sense of pride for all the design community who enter each morning.”

A stale, cold environment does not help the creative process yet the design studio should be a place for creative conflict. Every designer is unique and personal working areas should reflect the extrovert and introvert nature of team members. In retail they say that ‘eyelines are buy lines’, and eye-level inspiration positioned throughout a studio, regularly updated, allows for a constant visual feast of cognitive stimulation. Not only does it broaden the mind, it initiates discussion and acts as a catalyst. It’s great to see colleagues interacting and brainstorming after a chance discussion over something someone has chosen to display in their space.

The design studio is a professional working environment quick to embrace digital technology advances for best practice. We are firmly cemented in a digital world and it is clear that that spirit of environment is critical for a design studio. Herman Miller has focused research on what the working environment might look like in 2018, and worked with Yves Béhar, the founder of San Francisco-based design agency Fuseproject, who believes that, “the majority of collaboration happens at the desk, yet desks have never been designed for interaction”.

So what does the design studio of tomorrow look like? Well, I imagine holographic modelling in a futuristic ‘CSI design lab’-inspired environment but still somewhere to sketch over a coffee.

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McDiarmid Design