Featured Studio

DesignStudio

April 2018

Yassss Sydney! We chat with brand-spanking-new DesignStudio Sydney Creative Director, James Gilmore. James shares his journey and perspective on careers, Sydney's design scene, and the future of the design industry.

Tell us a bit about yourself and the studio that you work for.

I’m the Creative Director of DesignStudio Sydney. Prior to rejoining DesignStudio to open our first Australian studio, I worked for For The People here in Sydney and DesignStudio in London. I’m the Vice Chairman for AGDA here in NSW helping to build and promote design culture. I also mentor at UTS, Shillington and Billy Blue.

I'm currently building the team here in Sydney, so we're always looking to meet hungry, interesting creatively minded people.

When I’m not working I try to spend as much time surfing or cycling as possible and getting away from the computer to remind myself of the life beyond design.

What was your plan for graduating and what actually happened?

I had huge and slightly unrealistic ambitions of working in the music industry. I was and still am a massive fan of TDR and Warp Records, and Village Green and Fabriclive. I definitely thought I would go straight into a job in design for music.

The reality was I graduated in 2008, just as the global recession was taking effect. So I spent the next year interning around the country, sleeping on friends sofas and making long commutes by train to take any opportunity I could. This time taught me a lot about persevering and working to find the studio right for you.

What career advice would you give your 16yr old self?

I’d probably say don’t worry, ‘careers’ used to be scary things which you did for your whole life. Those times are gone, people change job, location and career with increasing frequency. All of this opens up the opportunity to really follow what you love and what feels right at that time.

Don’t look at what everyone else is doing as a model for what you should do. Forge your own path.

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‘Careers’ used to be scary things which you did for your whole life. Those times are gone, people change jobs, location and career with increasing frequency.

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What is the design landscape like in your city and where do you fit in?

Sydney feels like it’s at a really interesting point in its design life. A lot of great agencies are getting global recognition. Combined with a desire in a lot of sectors to shake up sleeping giants, I think the next ten years are going to be all about how design can really shape and change life here in Australia.

Hopefully DesignStudio can offer something different. We are a independent, global group of three studios in London, San Francisco and Sydney. I hope we can help grow the community in Sydney and recognition of amazing Australian designers.

What qualities and skills to you look for in a graduate?

It’s hard to pin down, but with graduates I want to see passion, excitement and an interest in the role design can play in the world around them. Graduates and juniors should be the conduit to culture in a studio. I’m less concerned about their book. At a graduate level attitude is way more important, skills can be taught.

Where do you think design is heading in the next five years and how will you adapt?

If I knew that I’d be way ahead of the curve. That’s the really interesting thing about design, we all think we know where it’s going but because it’s so inter-related to human behaviour which is so prone to change of direction, so who knows? That’s what makes it so exciting.

Certain technologies will of course have an influence: AI, experiential technologies (AR,VR & MR), automation, these will all play a role in shaping the world around us and by association design and its relationship to the world.

I think we’ll adapt the way we always have, by remembering to be flexible and open. What is doctrine today is antiquated tomorrow and there is only one direction of travel: forward.

Website: design.studio

Instagram: @designstudio

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