Kyoorius Designyatra '09: Ben Terrett on his changing perspectives as a designer

By Biprorshee Das , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing | September 07, 2009
On the second day of Kyoorius Designyatra 2009, London-based graphic designer, Ben Terrett spoke of how his experiences in the design industry have changed his perspectives

Towards the end of the second day's presentations at Kyoorius Designyatra '09, London-based designer and partner in Really Interesting Group -- a multi-disciplinary organization working in post digital design -- Ben Terrett chose to add a personal and humorous touch to his talk.

Through his speech, Terrett clearly stressed on the need to break accepted norms and choose non-conventional ways to find solutions.

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Picking up from his experiences in the past year, he titled his discourse, 'Nine Things I Believed Last Year That I Don't Believe Now'. Terrett recounted how his perspectives have changed from his days at The Design Conspiracy, a company he co-founded and worked in, before selling his stake in 2008 and forming Really Interesting Group.

"We don't have business cards," Terrett said as he explained his first lesson. 'Keeping up appearances is essential' was the first myth he thrashed. Terrett warned against the perils of time wasted worrying about petty things, such as office stationery, letterheads and the look of the workplace.

The second thing that Terrett did not believe anymore was that 'The future is digital'. "A large part of it could be digital, but not all. The future is a wonderful mix of both," he said. He called attention to the need for designers to move past their "digital infatuation" and become "analogue nostalgic".

He spoke of how side projects must not be overlooked. According to Terrett, side projects are where the innovation, interesting people and work lie.

Terrett then spoke of how he is no longer a subscriber to the thought that 'Controlling everything is everything'. "But it doesn't work that way. It isn't true and it's downright rude at times," he said.

He attacked complacency, saying that the thought 'If everything is ok, that's ok' leads to average work. Achieving mere satisfaction of client and staff and regular flow of money is a recipe for mediocrity, he said.

"We are here to do the best work of our lives," reminded Terrett.

Terrett spoke of the book, 'Perfect Pitch: The Art of Selling Ideas and Winning New Business' by Jon Steel, which changed his earlier stance against writing down every word of a due presentation.

"Every single word has to be carefully selected like the broad idea itself. By writing it, you know what you are trying to say and have a coherent argument," said Terrett, advocating the need to write down a presentation word-to-word before making it. The hard work is worthwhile, he added.

"People that put stickers on laptops are not hippies and losers," he said, pointing out that such practices facilitate others to rework designs (seen on such stickers). Designs are not sacrosanct, he added.

One must remember that design is a business too, Berrett said. 'Money takes care of itself' is a view he does not subscribe to anymore. He reminded that it is important to never under-quote or undersell one's work.

Berrett finally explained that he needed to rush back home, since he planned to watch a cricket one-day international with his Indian father-in-law. A year ago, he thought 'Cricket is rubbish' -- which is the ninth thing he does not believe anymore.

"I used to think cricket is long, boring and made no sense. But then, England started winning," the designer quipped before signing off.