Leading Lights #1 – Fiona Casey, Senior Designer, Dragon Rouge London
Leading Lights is our new series pointing the lens at the champions of projects, who get the job done in the day to day. We take a look behind the scenes in our London office’s design team, a day in the life account of how it all works. Fi joined Dragon Rouge two years ago and has led rebrand and new brand creation projects for the likes of Macmillan Cancer Support, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and one of the world’s largest, oldest real estate firms.
Q.) Tell us about a typical day in the studio.
A.) I’m very lucky to work in a job where every day is different. This morning I was painstakingly crafting a logo, a couple of weeks ago I was hands on working in a traditional print press, but next week I’ll be flying out the country to art direct a photo shoot. I work across a huge variation of projects, in scale, timing and across many different industries. Being able to intersperse big, gritty projects with swift turn-arounds injects momentum and energy into the studio. We’re never bored.
Q.) You have various projects for different clients going on simultaneously. How do you split the work up?
A.) It’s a balance of good personal time management, a brilliant client services and project management team, and most importantly communication!!. We’re a busy studio, but we sit the full team down for a catch-up every Tuesday and Thursday morning before we all get going to ensure everyone knows what their doing, and to see if anyone needs a hand (or three).
Q.) How do you make sure you get the best creative ideas out?
A.) That’s easy. Collaboration. The best ideas come from knocking heads together, whether it’s a small team of two or the full creative floor huddling together on the sofas, the best ideas can blossom from anywhere (and that’s why no idea, is a bad idea). Never be shy, ideas for a project don’t have to come from the direct creative team, it doesn’t matter if you’re a fresh faced intern, or someone outside the design team. If you’ve got an idea, we’re all ears.
Q.) How do you work with the other teams – strategy, client services?
A.) It sounds naff, but we’re all one team. Everyone is respectful of each others ideas and everyone has their voice heard, we are each experts in what we do but that doesn’t mean we can’t all have opinions on other areas of the business.
Q.) How do different personalities around you affect you?
A.) Smiles are contagious, if someone comes in the office with a smile on their face, they’ll get me smiling too (that and my first coffee of the morning). It’s all too easy to see the negative side of things so I like people that can see the silver lining in any given situation.
Q.) Do you see any ongoing trends/ patterns in the way designers are working or the way project requirements are shifting?
A.) Naturally there are trends in ways of working but it’s our job to work out what is appropriate for the project and the client. Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean we should too. At Dragon, we want to be the ones that set the trends.
Q.) Tell us something that’s different about the Dragon Rouge London studio
A.) The Dragon Rouge London office is across the round from Hyde Park and the Serpentine Gallery. We all know the importance of a little fresh air, especially when the day’s taking its toll. To be able to stumble out for a walk in one of London’s biggest parks is a luxury you won’t get anywhere else. (And it’s an especially good park if you’re a dog fan)
Q.) Have you ever worked with the other Dragon Rouge offices?
A.) Excitingly this is something we’re doing more and more, it means we get a more global perspectives on the design industry. Of course, every project we get through the red doors is an exciting one but if a project is something a bit different, we’ll try and get everyone on board, sharing thoughts and ideas from every office.
Q.) Fixed desk space or hot desking?
A.) I’ll always be a fixed desk worker. I own too much (all very necessary) clutter.
What would I do with all my old print scatters, empty highlighters and tubes of Berocca?
Q.) Who makes the tea?
A.) We’re a fair bunch, we all take turns. (I won’t name and shame the ones who make the milky teas)
Q.) What inspires you?
A.) I moved to London 6 years ago (predominantly to shorten my commute into London and stretch out my morning lie in …) but also, for the culture. I recently invested in a Tate Card which gives me entry to any exhibition at the Tate galleries around the UK and in the London office each employee received an Art Pass for Christmas. At weekends (when I’m not at a bottomless brunch) you’ll find me pottering around a gallery or museum, headphones in listening to a new album. Last weekend was the new Hot Chip album and the Olafur Eliasson exhibition.
Q.) What advice would you give to design students looking for their first roles?
A.) Really think about who you want to work for, and what you want to be doing. Don’t send out blanket emails, curate your design book, do your research and when you contact an agency, tailor the cover email to them. Yes, it takes time, but it’ll be worth it.
Fiona Casey is a Senior Designer in Dragon Rouge’s London office.