Creative Director, Sash Fernando, believes the design community has a responsibility to amplify the voices of organisations that deserve to be heard, and stresses that an ethical approach to design is one of the founding values of Principle Design. He also acknowledges that being a designer is not an easy ride and the transition from university to industry can be super difficult.
How did you fall in love with design and how did you get started? After school I spent three years backpacking through Western Europe and North America, which exposed me to a broad spectrum of visual influences. I fell in love with the power of design. I find that design breaks down language and cultural barriers and allows us to connect, communicate and collaborate internationally.
Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs? After returning to Melbourne from travelling, I was completely hooked. I enrolled in a Diploma in graphic design and then transferred into the second year of a Communications Degree at Swinburne University. An industry placement took me to New York to be mentored by Milton Glaser Inc and Pentagram Design. These hugely inspiring experiences gave me an insight into what we are capable of achieving as designers.
Once I returned to Melbourne I was determined to keep this momentum going. After graduating, I worked in a few Melbourne studios before founding Principle Design in 2008.
What’s your take on internships? (Do you take interns now?) Internships are invaluable to a designer’s development. My own experiences as an intern played a critical role in shaping my approach to design. To get the most from an internship you need to be open to new ideas, able to take criticism constructively and listen to what people around you are saying.
The transition from university to industry can be difficult. Students leave with a degree they feel has taught them everything and get a shock when they start work in a studio. Internships cushion the fall. You still have a lot to learn but a good mentor makes this transition easier.
We sometimes take interns, but only when we are working on projects that they can get involved in and learn and grow from.
What do you think the design community could do more of to give back? In my eyes the design community has a responsibility to amplify the voices of organisations that deserve to be heard. Balancing high-end design projects with semi pro-bono work for non-profits is a good way to give back whilst still being sustainable.
An ethical approach to design is one of the founding values of Principle Design and we work with clients in the health, education and environment sectors to help them help others.
Tell us about any collaborations you have been working on We have been working on an identity and digital language in collaboration with the Art Education Victoria, an organisation that supports visual arts educators throughout the state. It’s a cause that really resonates with our team and has been a wonderfully rewarding project to work on. The work we created really articulates the passion, energy and dedication of the AEV team. It’s amazing to work with organisations whose values really align with our own!
What have been the biggest lessons you have learnt along the way? 1. Look outside of design for inspiration. So many designers spend their days trawling design blogs, in order to keep things fresh it is essential to widen your inspiration and be interested in things other than just design.
2. Critique, critique, critique. Use every project as an opportunity to discover ways to better yourself, whether that is improving your design or the way that you service clients. Don’t be satisfied. Always drive yourself to push boundaries and do better.
3. But also… be proud of your work. Being a designer is not an easy ride so it is important to allow yourself the time to celebrate the work you and your team have crafted.