Mutt Industries is a design studio with a quirky personality. The founders include a the former executive creative director of Wieden+Kenndey, Steve Lucker, another former W+K creative director in Mike McCommon, and W+K’s former Director of Planning, Scott Cromer. All three have numerous multi-million dollar advertising campaigns in their resume, but prefer a more casual and interactive environment to inspire them – in their company profile, they describe the studio as “accomplished as any purebred. World-class creative minus the world-class bureaucracy.” The entire studio is comprised of eleven to twelve employees, but they focus on hiring multi-disciplined designers to meet the demands of big-name companies like Nike, Coca-Cola, ESPN, Target, HP, Heineken and Discovery, among others.
“In selecting an agency we were looking for real thought leaders who were comfortable pushing the envelope and redefining the relationship between a brand and its consumers,” said Corey Maynard, Director of Marketing for Gerber.
After viewing a television special in Pre-Press last spring term, may of us are familiar with IDEO in their innovative design process; a high emphasis on collaboration and hiring a wide range of disciplines. The work environment is designed as a hybrid of personal workspace and collaborative work space, for the studio sees interaction as an essential factor to the design process. More importantly, however, is that their design process focuses so acutely on the target audience to the point where they employ “Human Factor Specialists” to infuse a high dose of empathy, passion, and effective communication into every aspect of a design.
When describing what it would be like to work as a designer at IDEO, their website mentions that one will “work collaboratively, creatively, and flexibly within interdisciplinary teams and with our clients. IDEO’s human-centered design process involves careful observations of people; gathering insights from those observations and other creative perspectives; exploring and defining design opportunities; helping to define strategy; creating tangible design expressions; and communicating the essence of these ideas. Being a designer at IDEO means you do a lot of listening, observing, brainstorming and iterating with a group of people with backgrounds very different than yours. This diversity of thought and approach results in breakthrough ideas that lead to innovative outcomes.”
David Carson is known for bringing about a new style in graphic design; the visual grunge style of his work and play between imagery and type brought to the forefront the idea of typographic legibility not being equivalent to effective communication.
In an interview with Vibe Magazine, Carson gives this insight into the relationship of one’s personal life to the design process: “My environment always influences me. I’m always taking photos and I believe things I see and experience influence the work. Not directly, but indirectly in some shape or color or something that registers. The ocean has always played a big part in my life, but it’s hard to say exactly what that influence is in regards to the work. But I’m always scanning the environment I’m in, and I’m sure it ends up in the work.
I think it’s really important that designers put themselves into the work. No one else has your background, upbringing, life experiences, and if you can put a bit of that into your work, two things will happen: you’ll enjoy the work more, and you’ll do your best work. Otherwise, we don’t really need designers—anyone can buy the same programs and learn to do “reasonable, safe” design.”
In a less formal published interview, more details about Carson’s personal work environment are revealed: “Instead, in true West Coast style he concentrates on the vibe, having a studio with a view to inspire: “I look out the window and see palm trees.” Looking around the inside he notes with pride: “It’s messy. Lots of colour, surfboards, photos, pictures of kids and past loves, stuff from all the travels.” It seems the work may simply be an extension of the person. There’s one more essential ingredient before anything can get done: “I can’t work without music.” But even this lacks orgainisation, something music lovers everywhere will find hard to deal with: “I’m looking at hundreds of CDs, all hopelessly separated from their cases, never to be reunited.” Extending the messing-up then sifting-and searching process he’s famous for into his CD collection, David’s last word of advice is totally practical: “You’ll do your best work if you work to music you like.”