Design by Zag

In today's Talent we catch up with Kat Loudon and Kirsty Geddes of Glasgow-based studio Zag, to discover more about their collaborative, detail-driven approach to design and their ambitions for the future...

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Kirsty Whiten, Wronger Rights

Describe the studio's work in three words…
Considered, meaningful, expressive.

How did the two of you meet, and why did you decide to start a studio together?
Zag was a joint venture between myself (Kat) and fellow Glasgow School of Art ComDes graduate, Alice Rooney. It was following a LongLunch talk by APFEL that we were inspired to set up Zag. We really admired Kirsty and Emma’s studio ethos and design values so took the inspiration and idea and ran with it. Eight months into business, we were introduced to Kirsty Geddes; our friend was her tutor and raved about her so we jumped at the chance to get her into the studio when she approached us to do an internship. From day one we knew we had to have her as a part of the team! Alice left the business earlier this year to move back to Belfast and it’s been the two of us since then.

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Recoat, This Will Ruin Everything

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Recoat, This Will Ruin Everything

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Recoat, This Will Ruin Everything

What's the first project the two of you worked on together?
Just the two of us – it was an artist's book for urban art duo Recoat (Ali Wylie and Amy Whiten). It was a celebration of 10 years of Recoat. Ali and Amy are friends of ours, so the pressure to make something great for them was huge.

The 224-page hard back book was the biggest book we have done to date and we only had 30 days for delivery, from concept to completion, so it was a pretty crazy month! The whole visual aesthetic of the book was centred around their foundations as mural artists, so we encapsulated a hand generated response throughout the book utilising materials and techniques akin with their practice. The first time that we saw the book was the first time the client saw the book too, at the opening of their exhibition, so it was really nice way to end the project.

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Open Jar Collective, Soil City

Tell us about a favourite recent project…
We have been really lucky to have worked on some really interesting projects with some very exciting clients. We are in the process of developing a visual identity for a luxury Scottish sleepwear brand at the moment, which has been a really nice project for us. We love the concepts and creations that Ciorstaidh and Ruth are working on – they are heavily inspired by nature and the Scottish landscapes, so it's great have the opportunity to draw upon these subjects in abstract ways. We are looking forward to presenting the final identity in new ways and pushing the constraints of how we work.

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Glasgow Doors Open Days Festival

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Glasgow Doors Open Days Festival

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Glasgow Doors Open Days Festival

Describe your studio space to us…
Our studio is located in SWG3 in Glasgow. We work from the top floor of the building in a communal design space with around 15 other creatives, mainly designers, illustrators and web developers. There are artists' studios on the same floor so there are plenty of people around, and always someone to chat to while making a cup of tea! The rest of the building is used for filming and photography shoots and is a major club venue, so from time to time we are subject to the odd sound check! The space itself is as you would imagine a communal design space to be – open-plan, white walls and lots of natural light coming in through the skylight. The usual suspects frequent the studio on a daily basis with some others coming in as and when. Its really encouraging to have so many talented individuals around and great to be surrounded by people whose work we admire. At such an early stage in our career it's really reassuring to see that everyone faces similar hurdles along the way.

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Architecture Fringe

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Architecture Fringe

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Architecture Fringe

What kind of clients do you like to work with, and are there any particular types of project or client on your studio 'wish list’?
We tend to work on projects and with clients who work within the arts – which can feel like quite a luxury sometimes! It’s always really nice to work with clients who have a creative practice of their own, because on the whole, they tend to have a mutual appreciation and understanding for the design process. We would be really excited to work on more big book projects, where we could deliver a really experimental outcome, utilising a selection of paper stocks and print processes.

The V&A Dundee is opening soon so that is definitely one on our future client wish list!

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Craft Scotland, London Design Fair

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Craft Scotland, London Design Fair

Any advice for other designers looking to establish a studio?
Get a studio (or at least leave the house): working freelance can be quite isolating, so surround yourself with like-minded people. Creating that separation between life and work is a really good routine to get into. It gives you the opportunity to unwind and give yourself some headspace.

Manage your money: managing cash flow is so difficult, especially in the early days when it feels like feast or famine. Getting an accountant or using accounting software will help with managing your finances.

Collaborate: collaborate with other people as much as possible. Working with others is a good way to gain self-awareness, as you are often forced to articulate your strengths and weaknesses in a constructive and creative way. It stretches you to think and work indifferent ways and its also a really fun thing to do!

Embrace your failures and celebrate your successes: as with any business, there are always going to be highs and lows. Remember that every mistake is a learning curve, as you will never do it again.

Finally, fake it till you make it.

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Ruth Gilmour, Nothing is Solid

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Ruth Gilmour, Nothing is Solid

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Ruth Gilmour, Nothing is Solid

What are you working on now, and what's next for Zag?
We have had a very full-on year, so we are looking forward to a couple of weeks off over Christmas.

We are currently working on a number of visual identities, with more to come in the new year. We will be starting a new packaging project early next year – it's not something we have worked on before, so we are really looking forward to getting started on that. We are really keen to do something big for International Women’s Day this year. As a female-run design studio we are really keen to organise an event or project to celebrate this.

designbyzag.com

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Kirsty Whiten, Wronger Rights

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Kirsty Whiten, Wronger Rights