S4 Ep 6Behind The Design Season 4 Wrap Up and Reflections

You are listening to Behind the Design the Studio Lessons. Which brings us to the end of season 4. I want to thank all of my guests for taking the time to chat and give us a behind the scenes look into their design journeys. We’ve had some truly insightful conversations. And despite the uncertainty that continues to surround us at the time of recording there is a lot of hope and optimism and just getting on with things because we cannot and will not let a pandemic stop us from expressing ourselves and achieving our potential.

In this season my guests and I picked apart the meaning of sustainable luxury delving deep into its meaning to get to grips with the term. Sustainable luxury means different things to my guests but essentially comes down to people, and the environment by doing what is right, and all you can to respect and protect both. Sustainability is also about looking at how we design and manufacture products for present and future use and Natsai Audrey Chieza introduces us to the bio-design, and how being at the cutting edge of new emerging technologies is helping her to explore how bacteria, organisms can be used to create new materials that are good for the environment, and good for people.

A commitment to sustainability has led Audrey Migot-Adholla founder of Yala Jewellery to seek and be awarded B Corp certification. An award that holds her to a higher standard to be and do better. For Dr Pam Samasuwo-Nyawiri returned to school to earn a PhD helped her to explore the responsibilities she has as a designer going into artisanal communities. Rather than being a part of a problem Pam’s academic and creative practice focuses on bringing truly sustainable value to the artisans, she works with by looking at things like how to bridge cultural differences, and she is creating blueprints that can help other designers looking to do the same. Eno Jonah, founder of Nzuri Textiles keeps the preservation of traditional skills and natural materials top of mind and like Audrey and Pam believes that sustainability also means creating products that have longevity, that can be passed down through generations.

Several of my guests work with artisans and share how they have been managing the process of living on different continents at a time when movement is restricted, but getting product to market is necessary to keep artisans in work and income. It is not easy and as every business owner will know change brings with it the need to adapt to keep moving forward. Not only having to deal with the effects of a pandemic, but the effects the protests around social justice and racial inequality have had on shining the light on the work of black designers. My guests speak of their struggles of navigating the conflicting emotions that come with being seen yet having your work qualified by your race, and also the need to keep the conversation going. As Audrey says the question going forward is “How do we elevate black brands so that we are no longer black brands, but good brands period.”

On the business side of things being your own boss, especially when you are just starting outcomes with the challenge of wearing all the hats and having to juggle the different responsibilities. But wearing all the hats can be a bonus as it lets you know how your business works. That way when it comes time to delegating and taking on staff you know how to explain things. And when you do get to the stage of bringing in outside help Tosin Oshinowo founder of CM Design Atelier and Ile Ila stresses the importance of hiring people who are smarter than you who can help you to do things better, faster, more efficiently. So keep an open mind.

Staying the course in business requires commitment and belief in what you have to offer. We talk about how to keep motivated and stay the course. Several of my guests talk of getting a ‘hype crew’. A trusted circle of people, friends, family and other industry professionals that they can call on for help and advice, and when you need to boost your morale and help you through a crisis. This group will help to keep you accountable, silencing your doubts and upholding your focus.

One of the biggest challenges of being creative is that we tend to have a lot of interests, and this can pull our focus in every which way. Tosin, Audrey and Pam give us an insight into how they manage this. In Tosin’s case running multiple businesses and for Pam exploring product design and writing and publishing books. We also talk about choosing professions that please parents. And for those from an African background the changing attitudes to pursuing a creative career.

As the world shifts and uncertainty continues, much like the aftermath of the 2008 recession we are likely to see more people enter the world of entrepreneurship. Being confined to our homes has given us reason to pause and reflect on how we spend our time and pursue careers with purpose. At atelier 55 we are here to inspire you to do just that.

And on that note that’s it for this season. I would love to hear some of your takeaways and favourite episodes – do share in the comments.

Thank you so much for listening, downloading the episodes; and for commenting. And I look forward to welcoming you to the next season. If you haven’t already done so do get on to the atelier 55 mailing list to be notified when the next season launches.

Bye for now!

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Thanks again, and stay safe and well.


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