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Carte Blanche Lecture Review

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The sounding board had the great opportunity to organize a one-day event for the whole class. We were asked to take into account the different interests and fields of each student and come up with a program that reflects this variety and is relevant to our design education. What we had planned can be read in another article, but I'd like to share a few thoughts I took away from this exciting and entertaining day full of hands-on advice and inspired discussions.

Oliver started his lecture with a very pure and honest talk where he mentally sketched three pillars of a design studio. «Geschäftigkeit», «Talent» und «Kommunikation». The later two words are quite easy to translate: it's talent and communication. But, I lack a good translation of the first one. Let's call it «business thinking» for simplicity's sake. He came to the conclusion that there's no successful design studio that is solely focused on one of the three. Particularly for a designer the first one, business thinking, seems to be pretty hard to learn or master. Yet, it may just be the most crucial one to get right. In the second part of the lecture we discussed a variety of topics circling around working and communicating within a team distributed over three countries, the importance of a partner-like relationship with clients, the potential of self-initiated projects that can become recurring revenue, and the validity of bluffing your way through the first months as an independent designer. It was a very vivid discussion and Oliver answered the raised questions with lovingly narrated stories from his past and present life.

Julian arrived at 2:30pm with his train directly from Mannheim. With a bit of delay, we started right away with a presentation covering recent works from Julian's design studio DEUTSCHE UND JAPANER. After a broad overview he went much deeper into his master thesis, an extraordinary branding project for King Bansah. The story behind the project developed to be even more heart-warming and inspiring than I expected. It's impossible to reproduce the energy without images showing Julian in Ghana at a royal parade on one hand and in the king's appartment in Ludwigshafen on the other. Just imagine an eclectic culture clash… priceless! In the following discussion, Julian answered a lot of very practical questions regarding the design business he runs and how he runs it. The honesty of his answers was wonderful and I believe we all enjoyed this peek behind the curtains of a young and successful design studio.

From my perspective the day was a big success as everyone showed interest in the speaker's thoughts, engaged in the discussion and hopefully learned a thing or two along the way. I certainly had a great time and it was a big pleasure to get to know such incredible designers and entrepreneurs.