Studio Band

We caught up with one of our faves, Studio Band Creative Director Chris Cooper, to learn a bit more about how the studio name came about and how being in Adelaide impacts — or rather doesn't impact their work & clients. Plus we chat about design education failing to keep up with a rapidly changing world, and the impact AI and machine learning will have, whether we like it or not.

Any hilarious stories about you as a kid being creative?

I’m not sure if I can remember (getting old), nothing really hilarious. I have lots of fond memories of spending time with my dad doodling and sketching, he was an incredible artist and I use to really admire that. He could honestly draw anything, really quickly and with amazing detail and accuracy. He was an engraver and a calligrapher, that’s where my love for type came from really.

How did you name your practice and what does the name represent to you?

I get asked this a lot, the short answer is that it came from a title of a French Nouvelle Vague (New Wave) film called Bande a Part or translated to English means Band of Outsiders. The film or its story has no real relevance, I just liked the meaning of Bande a Part, “to do something apart from the crowd”. This really resonated with me because of the way I got into the industry, at the time it was really difficult if not impossible to get a job in the industry without a uni degree, I didn’t like that idea so I took a different approach.

Design work by Studio Band The Design Kids interviews Studio Band work-2

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

Culturally I don’t think it directly affects our work too much to be honest, we tend to take a more global perspective with our work and try and avoid any trends or fads that are happening locally. We have a belief that trends and fads can lock you in to a short term way of thinking. It’s wise to analyse and evaluate trends or fads and the impact they can potentially have but I don’t think it’s wise to adopt or be a part of a trend or fad with what we do, especially when a brand is to be enduring or lasting. I mean it’s somewhat bad branding, certainly bad marketing to have to update your brand every 5 - 10 years right? Trends and fads fade away, they come and go, they have impact and can have influence but strong brands should be lasting and enduring, they should be consistent over time, this is strong branding.

Adelaide is a fairly small city so it’s quite easy to get caught up in what’s cool style of thinking. At Band we have developed a specific way of doing things, a set of laws or a framework that we apply to our process. This allows us a more objective view. If we were to categorise the style of work we do people often say that our work has a more Melbourne or even European feel to it. I guess that’s because we find those cultures more inspiring and have a greater consideration for what the market wants in relation to the brief as opposed to concerning ourselves with what everyone else is doing. Most of our clients are attracted to us because of this way of thinking.

Who are your top five design crushes globally right now?

Design work by Studio Band The Design Kids interviews Studio Band work-4
Design work by Studio Band The Design Kids interviews Studio Band work-4

Trends and fads fade away, they come and go, they have impact and can have influence but strong brands should be lasting and enduring, they should be consistent over time, this is strong branding.

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

Ability to think objectively, knowledge of craft and positive character and personality

What's the quality of design education like locally?

To be honest, I personally don’t think it’s great. I think there’s a lot wrong with what we are teaching students about design currently, it’s far too design centric and somewhat antiquated. It’s a rapidly changing industry, with the increase in crowd sourcing platforms such as Fiverr and 99 Design, as well as easier access to simplified design software powering in house marketing teams to do the jobs that we were once employed to do. This all means that businesses aren’t just looking for ‘specialist graphic designers’ anymore, they’re wanting a broader skillset to resolve complicated business and marketing problems. You almost need to be an expert in all areas of marketing, branding and even business to be successful. I’m just not sure we are arming our students with the right ammunition to be able to accomodate these changes?

Design work by Studio Band The Design Kids interviews Studio Band work-6

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

Big question which I’m not sure I can answer fully in a few sentences. I touched on it in the previous question about the influence of technology and how that will shape our industry. Crowd sourcing platforms, simplified and easily accessible software that was once reserved for the ‘experts’ and even advancements in AI and machine learning are all going to have a massive influence on the design industry in years to come, whether we like it or not. We have to be more evolved, have a greater skill set and think more objectively. Specialised design skills and design craft will be one of the many skills you will require to be a successful designer in the future, you will have to have a thorough understand of branding, marketing, business management and strategy. I am currently studying an MBA specialising in marketing, this is helping me shape and develop strategies around how my services as a designer will be relevant long into the future.

Design work by Studio Band The Design Kids interviews Studio Band work-7
Design work by Studio Band The Design Kids interviews Studio Band work-7

Where to find Studio Band online.

Website: studioband.com.au

Instagram: @studioband

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