our take on projects

We now never take on projects that don’t personally interest us. If we don’t get that feeling immediately, from experience, we know it’s not for us.

In the past, we had to take on projects which, if we are honest now, looking back, didn’t float our boats at all. Our business was very different a few years ago, and we didn’t have the luxury of being selective about work. We rented a big office space, and with that rent came all of the additional costs such as business rates, utilities, maintenance and upkeep. We worked with other designers and had to ensure that we were earning sufficient to ensure that they were paid. And, all of that before paying ourselves and actually living day to day. These circumstances meant that we said yes to projects which we knew we were just doing to pay the bills. They weren’t creative, in the ways that we wanted. Most of these projects felt dry, because the clients – often based in the corporate world – wanted designs which fitted the corporate mould. Lots of blues, lots of towering skyscrapers, lots of often seen stock images of two people shaking hands over a deal. Sometimes we hit really lucky with clients from a more corporate background, who were prepared to be a bit more innovative and think outside of the box with us, but even most of these have moved on.

And things do move on. We have, both literally and metaphorically. We now live just over the Italian border, in northern Istria, in a stone house which we’ve spent six years renovating, in between design work. We still work with our UK based clients, and since coming out here, have taken on new clients, all from the UK. (We took the decision early on to not scope for work out here – language barriers, different design styles, too complicated to source and easier to keep everything finance/tax wise in the UK). Our work continued over the lockdowns, as clients were having to very quickly adapt their businesses to the new way of living/working, and as we had largely (since relocating) conducted meetings via calls, emails and Zooms, nothing really changed in this respect for us and our clients. The situation we were all forced into, actually has had an unexpected positive impact as now it’s just the norm for clients to communicate with us over the airwaves, rather than in person. This helps us all to be more efficient in terms of time, as we’re not spending hours travelling, or having tea breaks cutting into valuable meetings. None of our clients think that our working situation is in any way unusual, which is the result we really hoped for, but were a bit anxious that it might not work out. It also means that we’re no longer office based – we are so, so lucky to work from home, in such a beautiful place. In the winter – as it does get chilly here – we can work in the living room, from the sofa, in front of the wood burner. In the summer, we can work from a cool downstairs room, overlooking the garden. All of this makes the whole process of designing so much more pleasurable, and something which is honestly a daily delight. And in no small part, due to the fact that because of the new circumstances we now find ourselves in, we can be more project/client selective.

Sometimes, though, we don’t need to make the decisions. They’re made for us. We sometimes are approached about design work, and we think it’s right up our street, but once it’s known that we are not in Manchester any longer, not even in the UK, the enquiry ends, as the client wants someone “close by”, who they can meet up with. And that is totally fine with us, because it would probably never have worked out, especially if being geographically close is important.

The type of client we work with, is very important to us. Speaking bluntly, no-one would choose to work with an arse, but sometimes these characteristics aren’t immediately revealed, and often, you have no choice – for all the reasons we set out above. But we are finding now, that we don’t get contacted by people who could fall into this category very often, as most people who make an enquiry have either approached us based on a recommendation from a current client, or have checked out our portfolio and from that have decided we may be right for them.

We would absolutely encourage anyone thinking of approaching us, to do one or all of the following :

  • read our blogs – you’ll find out a whole lot more about us;
  • scrutinise our portfolio;
  • make an initial contact with us – either via the contact form on our website, or if you prefer, call us. Our Manchester number – 0161 445 7759 – has been ported to my UK mobile for ease, so I’m generally always available to pick up a call;
  • follow us via our social media – there’ll be snippets you’ll pick up on Twitter & Facebook;
  • contact any of our clients to get the lowdown – you’ll find their email address on their websites, and as we won’t know you are contacting them, we think you’ll get an honest view of us.

If you think you might like to approach us, we’d love to hear from you. There will be no pressure, no obligations. Just an opportunity for you to find out about us. That’s as straightforward as it is, because why make things complicated when they don’t need to be?