When I was first asked if I might possibly be interested in going to live and work in London for a few months, my immediate reaction was "hell!" and "yeah!". (Translation: "yes!" and "please!")
I had been to London back in April for a round of design testing sessions and had stopped by our UK office (then called The Core) to introduce myself and see what our partner agency was up to. The second I stepped through the door, I immediately got a good vibe that got even better as a group of us headed down the road to the local pub to drink beer outside in the warm late afternoon sunshine. When the opportunity to go back for a longer length of time came along, I jumped at the chance.
So fast forward to a few months later – armed with my passport and an open mind, I was on my way.
When I arrived for my first day of work, I immediately felt welcomed and treated as one of the team. The atmosphere reminded me of studios I'd worked at when I was just starting out as a young designer years ago.
There was a true sense of "why not?” and “let's try it" and an energy that came from people really loving what they were doing. Both physically and organizationally, there weren't many layers of bureaucracy to get in the way of creating great work. The office was arranged in an open configuration (no cubicles), which reflected the open and collaborative nature of the way everyone worked. Though it took a bit of time to get used to the boisterous and sometimes chaotic nature of the workspace, after a few weeks it felt perfectly natural. All in all, it was very egalitarian in how work was inspired, created and reviewed.
The old saying "two countries separated by a common language" didn't prove to be that much of an issue. Although there were a few "who's on first" moments, especially when working on a new chip packaging project (chips meaning fries, not potato chips, which are called crisps). I had the opportunity to take the lead on that job and had several off-site client presentation meetings, which made for a fun and interesting experience.
In the end, my time there served to remind me why I became a designer in the first place. Yes, we all have to sit in meetings and do our timesheets. But at the heart of it, the lesson was quite simple: create a powerful emotional connection with your audience through the use of great design.
That, and room-temperature beer is really good.