Design studios collaborate on training initiative for underrepresented designers

Bristol and Bath design consultancies come together to prepare young designers for work by simulating a real studio environment.

A weekend studio experience called Werkhouse aims to give early career creatives from underrepresented backgrounds a step up the ladder of the design industry.

Werkhouse was launched in 2017 by a small group of design professionals from Bristol and Bath with the aim of helping young creatives succeed in the design industry. It is open to all design disciplines from product design, graphic design to illustration and digital design.

All images are from last year’s Werkhouse cohort

This year’s experience is run by 20 professionals from nine different studios in the South West of England. Participating studios include Bristol-based agency Taxi Studio and Halo Studio and brand strategy and design firm Mr B & Friends.

Werkhouse co-founder and Creative Director at Mytton Williams Bob Mytton explains how he thinks young designers can be “better prepared to go to work”. To that end, the two-day workshop provides a crash course on the creative and interpersonal skills needed to thrive in a design studio.

Helping young creatives who “might not have the connections to get an internship” is also a priority, according to Mytton. He adds that the volunteer studios “do their best to be inclusive and support diversity”.

Paul Bailey, strategic director of Halo Studio, said: “We believe there are new routes to the creative industry and Werkhouse is a way to open up the creative industry to a much larger group than just university graduates.”

Applications for the Werkhouse experience are now open until October 14 to anyone over the age of 18, whether they are self-taught or have formal design training. An online application form will ask designers to share details about their design backgrounds and in recent years has included specific questions about gender, ethnicity and disabilities to ensure a fair selection of young creatives from all walks of life can apply.

After being placed in teams, each led by a senior designer, participants are given real client instruction, followed by quick, team-oriented tasks, simulating a real studio environment. Briefings come from charities and are not revealed until Saturday morning.

These type briefs can have multiple design solutions, so they are meant to encourage lots of ideas and strategic thinking. Last year included a letter from the national food charity Fareshare on how to better involve the volunteer team.

Sessions start promptly at 9:00 AM and last until 6:00 PM. After you get the assignment from the client, the first day is all about exploring the problem and generating ideas. At the end of Saturday afternoon there will be an industry discussion about balancing health and wellness with work expectations.

Sunday will consist of refining, visualizing and presenting ideas. Subsequently, each team’s proposals are presented back to the client on Sunday afternoon.

Selected applicants will work with a variety of industry experts, from creative directors and senior designers to account managers, copywriters and strategists.

Although a job after the Werkhouse weekend is not guaranteed, participants from previous years have successfully secured an internship or entry-level position at a number of agencies.

Werkhouse accepts 30 participants and will take place on November 19-20, 2022 at Taxi Design Studio in Bristol. There is no cost to this workshop, but participants are expected to organize and cover their own travel and accommodation expenses.