In a beautiful old building at the harbour of Leith, we had a bit of a chat with Kurt from Stance. Kurt walked us around Custom Lane—an amazing building that Stance have been collaborating with. Seriously if you’re in the area check this beauty out! Kurt offers up some pretty great words of truth—read on to hear what he’s got to say as well as the journey that himself and Stance are on.
Give us the elevator pitch on what you do? Which floor are you getting off? 😀 If it’s the first floor, I am a designer at Stance (along with my partner Neil), a design studio specialising in brand strategy, identity design and communication across physical and digital customer experiences. We believe our ability to conceive an idea is equally as strong as our ability to produce it.
‘Perfect can be a tad boring sometimes, slightly fucked up is memorable. Get it out there.’
When did you fall in love with design and how did you get started? One of my earliest design memories was creating football kits with my older brother, redrawing teams kits scribbling shapes and type into templates he would draw. Fast forward to 18, and with a hooky copy of photoshop, I started designing posters for music and club promoters in my hometown of Aberdeen. Sometimes I even got paid. From there, and with a profound fear of a career selling financial products to old people (I was working in a bank), I applied to Edinburgh College of Art to study visual communication and got in. I have been hooked on conceptualising and visualising ideas for people ever since.
Tell us about any collaborations you have been working on. For the last year we’ve been working with GRAS, a Scottish Architectural design studio, to develop an identity for a new centre for multi-disciplinary design in Edinburgh called Custom Lane. The building houses loads of design disciplines working in open plan studios, from an interior designer to jewellers, glass artists to photographers. It also has Cafe and coffee roaster, an exhibitions and event programme and a fabrication workshop. It’s an interesting mix. Being a building partner, we continue to collaborate with Custom Lane, and are currently working with another resident, menswear designer Kestin Hare, on exciting international projects.
Being open to new things, taking time to help others with their ideas and always being on the look-out for interesting side projects is an incredibly important part of our studio. Often, that side action is where you get to do your coolest work.
‘With running a design shop day-to-day, living and breathing design, I find a break from things specifically design related is important’
What advice would you give students starting out? Learn how to talk about your output. Being comfortable in articulating your ideas and presenting your work to clients and peers will pay dividends for your confidence (and get those folks who are paying for your services to really get excited).
Listen to feedback and/or criticism and learn from it. It’s never personal. And take a step back from your own work and share WIP’s whenever possible. Perfect can be a tad boring sometimes, slightly fucked up is memorable. Get it out there.
Oh, and stop putting skill-level pie-charts and graphs on cv’s. Thats 9/10 bad.
What are your three must-read design books/blogs/podcasts and why? There are some very, very good design books/blogs/podcasts, but with running a design shop day-to-day, living and breathing design, I find a break from things specifically design related is important, so below is three un-design things that I currently love.
Radio lab — Amazing podcast that weaves real life stories and science into profoundly insightful audio documentaries. It can make you happy, sad, excited and scared. It is very smart and witty.
Hardcore History by Dan Carlin — Terrible name, great podcast. It got me excited about ancient history and encouraged me to read even more. The Mongal Empire series is incredible.
Moving More — I use exercise as a form of meditation / self medication, giving you time away from screens, emails, notifications and slack messages. It’s the perfect prescription for a healthy mind, and stops the body from atrophying. Take a walk to the studio instead of taking the bus (take a different route when you can), hop on a bike, go for run, or repeatedly pick something heavy off the ground. Whatever gets your blood flowing.
What’s the big goal in the next five years? Right now we just want to get better at being us, doing the best work we can for people and companies we enjoy working with. We also want to bring in more specialisms, as well as good people who are way better than us at doing what we already do.
A big aim for us in the future is to move away from a traditional service model and start to produce our own products and IP. It makes sense to start to make things for ourselves and develop our own audience. We’ve got lots of our own ideas formulating so watch this space.