A design learning space like no other.
As professionals, we entered into Werkhouse thinking we would be enlightening the young participants with our knowledge, but we quickly realised this is a shared learning experience. In the end, we’re not sure whose eyes get opened more.
"It was brilliant to be surrounded by such talent and creative minds."
Aimee Harper, Participant.
Our learning: design professionals
When the professionals involved in Werkhouse first came together, it was on the basis that too many of us had met graduates that seemed ill-prepared for working studio life. In the UK, the majority of design agencies employ less than 20 full-time staff. While they need fresh new talent, they can’t afford to take on staff that require a substantial level of additional support before they can fulfil their own junior role.
So, we entered into Werkhouse thinking we would be enlightening the young participants with our knowledge, but it quickly developed into a shared learning experience. In the end, we’re not sure whose eyes were opened more. Everyone agrees that the professional development opportunity of working together with peers, and facilitating groups of young designers, provides a learning space like no other.
The Creative Directors guide the techniques, the Senior Designers steer the teams, and the teams share their ideas. Everyone witnesses how other creatives work across different roles, and how different agencies approach the same brief.
Managing teams that have only just met is a tough test of people skills. Co-developing the creative direction in multiple teams was also a challenge. But it is a reminder of just what can be achieved when everyone focuses on one brief over two whole days.
The energy created from working with talented colleagues and motivated participants is remarkable. The young participants have real zest. Hearing their thoughts, and perspectives, creates new understanding about the state of design practice.
"A fantastic opportunity to work alongside my peers, learn different approaches to the design process and to meet new people."
Bob Mytton Mytton Williams
A space to challenge design education
Putting 20 design professionals and 30 young designers in a studio together provides a unique moment to check-in on whether education is meeting expectations - on both sides. Each weekend workshop pauses to have an open conversation, covering topics such as: Is University the only way into the design industry? How can diversity be better supported? What is the best way to get a placement? What do young people expect from a career? The group share and compare their experiences inside and outside of university courses across the UK, as well as overseas.
A clear message is that university design courses vary, and university is not for everyone. Some courses are excellent, with students revealing just how much they learn and how much experience they get access to. Others raise more worrying issues about unmet expectations, limited facilities or a lack of industry connections.