Featured Studio

Homework

October 2019

We recently caught up with Associate Creative Director of Homework, Michael Nilsson, and hear about their deliberately small, tight-knit team of creatives. We chat about the influence of Nordic design tradition, why they value open-mindedness and curiosity above all else, plus we discuss the changes in studio and agency structures over the last few years.

Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?

My educational background is not within Design, but back in the day, I had ambitions of becoming a composer and producer. Which is why I studied at music college in the US, trying to hone my skills. After graduating and returning to Sweden (where I’m originally from), it proved hard to make a living in the music industry. So after realising that, I started doing graphic design – primarily for recording artists and music venues.

Then the whole dot-com era started (remember, this was back in 1996) and I gradually shifted towards web and digital design. Worked freelance for some of the leading agencies back then and later on landed a job as a designer at one of those agencies. After that, things moved quite quickly and since then I’ve spent years working within digital design, brand identity, packaging design, and advertising.

Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.

[Homework](http://www.homework.dk/ is a creative agency based in Copenhagen that provides creative consulting and direction for ambitious lifestyle brands across the globe. This encompasses beauty, fragrance, interior, fashion and everything in between. We take pride in being a deliberately small, tight-knit team of creatives that share a passion for craftsmanship. We are platform- and channel-agnostic, which means we are well-versed in connecting every touchpoint of a brand – and create engaging, valuable and memorable experiences across them all.

How does the local culture of where you live affect your design work and getting clients?

I believe there’s a shared Nordic design tradition, which is an undeniable influence for anyone active as a creative in Copenhagen and Denmark. A thoroughness and attention to detail and craft is something we hold dearly at Homework. Also, positivity, curiosity, and open-mindedness are local traits that we always try to embed in our work. This no-fuss attitude paired with our design skills has enabled us to work together with some of the most renowned brands around. We strive for simplicity, but always ensure it’s not stale or repetitive. Always relevant and remarkable – and something that pushes the brands forward.

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I believe there’s a shared Nordic design tradition, which is an undeniable influence for anyone active as a creative in Copenhagen and Denmark

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

What we value is a graduate that is open-minded and curious most of all. Being attentive, loyal, positive and not afraid to get their hands dirty. We believe in the best way of growing talent, is to sometimes be thrown into deep water – and learn from those experiences. But we always have each others back and as a graduate you can always rely on someone willing to help.

Versatility is also something we value greatly. We don’t believe in one-trick-ponies that are specialised in one narrow field of work. Naturally, we all have our strengths and weaker areas – but developing your skills within anything creative is what moves everything forward. Being equally good at voicing your opinions and listening.

What's the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t think you have all the answers. Listen and learn from your experiences.

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

The past few years have been transformative, both for us and the rest of the design world. Brands build internal teams handling tasks traditionally done by agencies. Still there are agencies claiming to be full-service and able to provide anything needed by a client on their own. Those truly capable of that are very few.

I believe each creative should re-evaluate what their core strengths are, ally with people that complement with other skills – and focus on providing a holistic view. What brands struggle most with, is aligning and prioritising their efforts, which calls for creatives that can provide proper guidance. This is what we call a lead agency, that combine strategic insight with creative direction across all touchpoints. We believe Homework is that kind of agency.

Website: homework.dk

Instagram: @homework.dk

Behance: /homeworkdkstudio

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