A lot has changed in the past year for Caterina Bianchini and Studio Nari, the creative consultancy she started just before the pandemic hit. In the locked-down summer of 2020, she’d been extolling the virtues of running a ‘studio-less studio’ with just three full-time staff. Now her team has grown to ten people, based for the most part in a space in Hackney, east London. “Things have majorly flipped,” says Bianchini. “We had to rethink our structure and we’ve created this little powerhouse.”
The team is largely made up of previously freelance designers who Bianchini is quick to rave about – a refreshing antidote to common current gripes about the difficulties of hiring decent staff. It’s not hard to see how she’s managed to attract talent, though: “For me, design doesn’t feel like work, and I don’t ever want it to. I want the people coming in and working with us to feel that they have the space to think, explore, and actually be creative rather than just emulating the ‘dinosaur structure’ of other studios.”
Partly, she’s referring to vast, old-school studios where clients have to navigate layers of project managers and so on before speaking to an actual designer. One advantage of smaller teams is that everyone has a vested interest in the project, and it immediately equates to being nimble and responsive. It’s a more direct and rewarding client/studio relationship all round.