Batch is a great book for lovers of design and craft – from designers and makers, to collectors and retailers.
Batch; Craft, Design and Product: The Work of the Designer Maker is introduced as a ‘glamorous coffee table book’. It is indeed a beautifully produced book with its hard cover, and great large and colourful images, showing an interesting mix of designers, makers and crafts people from across the UK and abroad.
But to really appreciate this coffee table book you need to read it, and find out the stories behind many of these successful product design businesses.
It is a very friendly book, and the author Andrew Tanner as a designer himself has obviously a great love and insight for making and manufacturing, that he shares in this book.
Andrew has been able to access a very varied group of designers and makers, at different stages in their career, across the world (although mostly UK), and mostly fairly small but successful businesses.
Designers include: designers Bodo Sperlein and Michael Marriott, designer consultants KleinReid, designer maker Kathleen Hills, glass and ceramic designer maker Simon Moore, Canadian designers Molo, Turkish design team Autobahn, silversmiths Ane Christensen and Sidsel Dorph-Jensen, textile designers Anne Kyyrö Quinn, Ells Doran, Margo Selby, Donna Wilson and Tait & Style.
Don’t be confused by the book’s title Batch, as it doesn’t just show designers with batch produced products, but work that is manufactured as well as the hand-made.
This book is great for recent graduates or people wanting to work as a designer or maker, as it gives great detail and insight into the designer’s backgrounds, education, inspiration, processes, their markets and clients.
The best aspect of this book is reading the designer’s personal stories how they have created their own business over time, and dealt with the ups and down, the opportunities and the market.
A great example here is Andrew’s own description of his career as a designer maker, designer and consultant, which is very personal and honest. It is pretty unique to get that kind of insight anywhere into the real life as a designer. In my opinion essential business reading for (recent) graduates who want to set up their own business as a warning and inspiration!
This is about the real life journey of setting up and running a design business, which often on the outset looks far easier than it actually is. But as Andrew says: ‘Learning from your mistakes is a good philosophy, but given a little help from your peers it may not always be necessary.’
There are some other very useful aspects to Batch for people wanting to set up their own business:
The images throughout the book are inspirational, and are great guide if you are looking for examples of good design product photography or creative portraits.
The book finishes with interviews with people ‘behind the scenes’. These really are the top people in the UK who can help you run and market your business, such as Rachel Moses of business support organisation Design Nation (which is The Design Trust’s sister organisation), journalist Barbara Chandler (who gives some great PR tips!), accountant Sydney Levinson, London based gallery Vessel (again with some great tips about how to approach galleries), trade fair organiser Ian Rudge, and manufacturer/distributor Thorsten van Elten.
(Please note that Rachel no longer works for Design Nation, which is now coincidentally run by Andrew Tanner, the author of this book. Also Ian Rudge is no longer involved with trade show 100% Design.)
This is in a way the weakness of the book, as with this kind of images and informative detail it will look out of date in a couple of years. But no doubt Batch will be a great ‘time capsule’ representing design around 2011.
To give you a taster of Batch, each designer interview finishes with some great practical advice and or insights for the next generation:
Furniture designer Gareth Neal: ’Take it seriously. Be prepared for hard work. Make sure you get the costing correct. Be prepared to have to do other things to pay the bills, and finally remember that ‘the dog that stays on the porch finds no bones!’
Ceramic designer Bodo Sperlein: ‘For a designer to be successful depends on a variety of aspects. First and foremost to have a unique style and a good business head. You should know the marketplace on a global scale and think big from day one.’
Belgian furniture designer Marina Bautier: ‘Be curious, and observe what surrounds you. It takes time for work to mature and to find the right people to collaborate with, so stay confident. Trust you own ideas, and work at your own rhythm. Enjoy your work!’
Textile designer maker Margo Selby: ‘Be open-minded about working with people and collaborating. You can move the business forward in exciting ways and gain exposure to new markets by teaming up with other individuals or businesses on collaborative projects. ‘
Glassmaker Stuart Akroyd: ‘Before going self-employed, try working for someone else in the same field for a reasonable amount of time. It is useful too see how it is, or isn’t, done well. You are then still learning and being paid for it!’
Glass artist and designer maker Kathryn Wightman: ‘Get out there and get your name known. You should have long-term goals – deciding what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve it by – and constantly review your progress and your goals. Good planning and time management are essential.’
Jewellery designer Jane Adam: ‘When you start, the one resource you have is time. You just have to keep going, keep trying, observe what happens to your work when it reaches the market, listen to what people (buyers, the public, etc.) are saying and how they react to what you are offering them. Learn from it, understand what they are saying and why, let it become part of your design brief, if you like, but don’t be dominated by it. In the end, you must let your voice be heard, particularly if it is saying something worth listening to.’
To purchase Batch; Craft, Design and Product: The Work of the Designer Maker click the link.
Batch was Book of the Month in August 2012. The Design Trust are really pleased to be working with A&C Black/Bloomsbury publishers as they kindly provide copies of our Book of the Month for free to review and or to give away in competitions. Every month we select a book from their extensive creative business range to review, and our Business Club members can get that month a 20% discount on that book (for more details see that month’s Business Club News). Please note that The Design Trust do not gain financially from this arrangement.
Have you got this book, what do you think? Which of the designer’s insights was the most helpful? Add your comments below.