Studio Dynamic // Josh Rigali
Throughout our time at Kansas State the dynamic of studio has remained fairly consistent. We have always worked individually on one project at a time. We are able to manage our time, work when we want, and create our own schedule. The Design+Make Studio has made for a drastic change that will help prepare us for our careers within the profession.
Working individually is no longer an option, as collaboration is necessary to generate better ideas and production with limited time. The idea of working on a singular project has been thrown out the door as well. Throughout the semester each member in the studio has worked on at least three projects at one time. Each project had its own set of demands, and differing schedules. Occasionally the schedules work well together, but at times, the schedules overlap, making it difficult to manage our time. For each project, we were split into several teams, each team with around 3 to 6 members. These teams change with every project, with each studio member working on three different teams. This means each member works with three different groups of people. People who are team members for one project will be on competing teams for another project.
As we worked to develop projects throughout the first semester, we were essentially competing against the other ideas for the most successful design. This created interesting situations as team members for one project were competitors for other projects. This competition is friendly and helps to motivate and push our design efforts, but there is still a clear desire to have the most effective design. Presenting several ideas to the client allows the client to see different strengths and weaknesses of each proposal. As a result the client feels they are getting the beat work that the studio can provide. As these designs developed, team members began to fall into different roles. Someone with a major role on one project may have a more supportive role on another. Other members took on major roles across several projects. Although I have taken more of a leadership role on certain projects my work load remained even. I found that my set of skills was used the same on each team allowing me to do what I am best at in order to produce the best overall project. At times there was tension among the studio as team members felt they were doing more work than others. This is a natural occurrence that I have seen throughout my years as a student. Certain team members take on more than others, others put in less effort. At times there is not enough work to be evenly distributed.
A collaborative meeting at Design+Make
As one or two designs for each project were chosen to move forward, teams were combined into larger teams. This created an interesting situation as team members from two competing teams were brought together to work on one project. As designers we tend to get attached to our designs, and will argue and fight for them. It is sometimes very difficult to feel so strongly about one design solution, and then focus that energy on a completely different solution. I personally was switched to a new team midway through the design process. Although it was difficult at first to get on board I was able to bring new ideas to the table that would have otherwise not been mentioned. This strengthened the design and helped to propel it forward.
The initial collaboration of these super groups is usually slow as half the team is on one page and the other half is on another. This leads to disagreements and differing opinions. What at first seemed like a problem however, eventually strengthened the designs with new ideas and ways of thinking. In some cases, the best aspects of the two teams’ designs were combined in to one singular design. This not only strengthened each team and design, but has increased our ability as designers to work together in the studio. This experience will no doubt prove to be invaluable to us as we advance in to the profession.
Written by Josh Rigali