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The Ideal Studio

Kin is a research and design studio founded in 2008 which works with clients as diverse as fashion brands, museums and electronics companies. Its nine staff are based over four floors of an old warehouse in Farringdon.

Matt Wade, co-founder and director of Kin, on...

The dangers of unsociable hours...

“Firstly, it's unhealthy and we need to be healthy to be able to think and function efficiently. Then secondly, we all need to feed our minds and we can't do that if we're always at work. I'd rather a designer was hanging out with their friends, going to see a show, reading a book, or just watching TV, and letting the world into their lives rather than pushing things around a page until midnight every night. Then come to work fresh, do great work and go home at the end of a 'normal' day.”

The best kind of stimulating environment...

“It needs to be dynamic – and not always predictable. Too many design studios look like offices. They're stiff, formal environments – maybe out of a desire to look grown up, or from a desire to externalise discipline and rigour. I find chaos much more interesting than order. I think we need places for our mind to go. A good design studio should be more Woodstock than Sandhurst.”

“It’s about not having rigid rules. I was talking to someone recently about design studios where you have to have the right pen and he said that we sounded like the kind of studio where it was more important to have the wrong pen. The space is not crafted – we don’t have an inspiration wall of box shelving full of Japanese objects – we just have a lot of shit.”

“We have the workshop and the sound design area as well as two design studios and each floor feels different to each other which I quite like. We don’t have a style we adhere to – we don’t say our look is green with plywood and a certain type of furniture.”

“At Imagination I loved the fact they had a model shop, photographic studio, roof terrace and gallery. The variety was really stimulating.”

Creating a shared sense of purpose...

“I'm interested in shared responsibility and ownership. There are nine full-time employees at Kin, and each one has a share in the business. They get a share of any profits and we decide as a group who we should and shouldn't work with. 

“We have lots and lots of discussions and arguments about design philosophy and Kev and I have people challenging us the whole time – there’s no reverence because we’re the bosses.”

Keeping things fresh in a small team...

“People do not sit in the teams in which they are working on something – we want everyone to be able to see what they are doing.

“Also I think breaking out of the design bubble is really important because the work we do is not for designers, it’s for normal people. It is really important that we get enrichment and understanding of other areas of life that influence our design work. There’s only nine of us – we all look at the same stuff, we probably have duplicate copies of the same books and pathetically even listen to the same type of music, so we need to create diversity wherever we can.”

Managing client feedback...

“We have a weekly workshop with clients to review the work where we can show prototypes, get feedback and change direction if necessary. We know when those sessions happen and we do not really encourage the clients coming in the rest of the time.”

The ideal studio...

“More like an amazing art school than a place of work, full of interesting people all with a common sense of purpose.”


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