Studio Brave was established by the talented Tim Sutherland 12 years ago now, and man-o-man have they done some beautiful work. They are big fans of TDK, taking part in Terrible Twos in 2012 with Patrick Carroll, and Threesome with Matt Tambellini and Bianca Birnbaum. Tim shares where he gets inspiration and how Studio Brave adapts to the rapidly changing world of design.
Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs? I studied at Monash Uni (Caulfield, VIC) Bachelor of Arts in Visual Communication. I graduated in 1992 (that sounds like such a long time ago). My first (design) job was at a small design studio called DesignWorks in South Melbourne, where I worked for 3 years before travelling overseas for a gap year. When I first worked there, there were no computers. We used to create artwork on a huge drawing board using paste up. Bromides (aarrrr!), White out (aarrr!), Technical pens (aarrrr!). My next job was at Cowan for a year designing FMCG packaging, then finally hit the big time getting a job at Cornwell. I worked there for 3 years ending up as a Design Director leading a team. This is where I feel I really rose to the challenge. It was incredibly competitive, and we worked really hard. But I learnt a lot. It was the perfect launching pad to go off on my own. Next after a decade of experience I started Studio Brave in 2002.
Tell us your favourite spots to get inspired?
Anywhere and everything. Travel / Discover / Art / Galleries / Exhibitions / Music / Gigs / Books / Magazines / Libraries / Museums / Markets / Shopping / Workshops / Classes / Lectures / Forums / Photography / Sculpture / Print making / Fashion / Fashion Designers / Fabric Design / Jewellery Design / Film / Short Films / Art house cinema / Open air cinema / Digital culture / Websites / Online forums / Instagram / Twitter / Pintrest / Blogs / Architecture / Interior Design / Industrial Design / Furniture Design / Dance / Ballet / Opera / Theatre / Plays / History / Modern Art / Design History / Writing / Poetry / Manuscripts / The spoken word / Cycle / Hike / Explore nature / Inspiring people / Look up / Look down / Look sideways / Experience something new.
Which three people in the design industry would you pick as mentors and why?
A Mentor can be anyone that inspires you, or gets the most out of you. For me I had an amazing mentor in Uni, a lecturer who really pushed me, challenged me and helped me get the most of myself and helped me understand what I was capable of. Then I had another who was a colleague at Cornwell. I was totally inspired by him and he helped me raise the bar. I don’t think I could pick 3 people I didn’t personally know. I think you have to know them and find them organically.
What qualities and skills to you look for in a graduate?
Obviously a great folio, but one thats idea driven and not just aesthetically pleasing. Something with unique attributes. When we are employing we always look out for something that our studio currently doesn’t have. Something new. Someone who can think. And someone that can think outside the box – laterally. We look for people who are passionate, and driven and who will take on initiative. A graduate should also be confident, but not too confident. Arrogance is a huge turn off. We look for people who will take direction well. A bit of self confidence and self belief is good though as these skills can turn into potential leadership. Ultimately also we are looking for a great personality. Someone who will fit in well, and be a good cultural fit. I guess what employers look for is a nicely balanced combination of these things.
Where do you think design is heading in the next five years and how will you adapt?
Design now is much deeper, more layered and more strategic than it ever was. If we look at branding for example, it is now much more about peoples experience with a brand than merely a surface facing brand identity. For us as a studio, we have found we are moving towards ‘Branded Environments’. We have been working more with architects, interior designers, property developers, retail design mangers and the like, integrating brand identity design into environments that people interact with and experience. It’s a really exciting space for us. We’re looking forward to seeing where it goes.