Cheltenham Design Festival

After an influential visit to Cheltenham Design Festival last year I returned for the 2013 schedule.

The Art of Creative Oneupmanship was to discuss the meaningful client/designer relationship. A yellow sofa studio event, the intimate discussion was chaired by former Design Week editor and design writer Lynda Relph-Knight. In the hot seat was the Creative Director and founder of Bristol based Taxi Studio. Spencer Buck introduced his studio, their story, portfolio and more interestingly – their relationship with client Jessica Robinson.

Jess is the Global Design Director of Carlsberg, with a previous role in that famous red and white branded cola company. She sits on the client side of the relationship, but trained in design school she very much understands and appreciates the value of good design. Brought into Carlsberg 3 years ago she has been responsible for the global redesign of the Group’s 5 international brands as well as overseeing glassware, merchandising and POS – a pretty influential figure. Spencer and Jess stem back 10 years. They discuss their friendship and business relationship, with an insight to how they work together to push each others creativity (working for a worldwide beer company no doubtedly fuels some rad ideas). Jess speaks on how she works with people, not clients, how she’ll follow a talent – rather than brand. It’s those individual relationships that are an incredible asset to creativity and pushing the boundaries. She also explains how she chooses partnerships over pitches, which was a reassuring thing to hear.

It seems that times are a-changin’ for big brands, with the importance and value of design taking prominence in businesses, more and more companies will follow Carlsberg’s lead and be investing in internal design disciplines. This will aid the dreaded client/ agency relationship – through the mutual language of design. With figures like Jess on the client side, we’ll have savvy patrons backing our corner to interpret those bold ideas (and give a helping hand to convince the account managers it was all their concept). Hopefully, long gone will be the days of creative suppression by untrained eyes.