I always used to think design was about problem solving. I’ve spent 14 years working to solve problems. Problems I didn’t care about much, like how to sell more fizzy drinks to young people, right through to problems I cared a lot about but couldn’t solve like connected healthcare services.

Don’t get me wrong, these 14 years have given me so much. A valuable set of skills, a much clearer understanding of my values and plenty of real world experience of designing everything from chocolate bars to vaccination booking services.

But it’s time for a change. One of my earliest graphic design heroes was Stefan Sagmeister. He used to (maybe he still does) close his studio for a year every seven years for personal development. There is also some science (I think?!) about seven year cycles of development. Seven years ago I moved back to the UK from New Zealand and travelled round South America for three months. Seven years later I’m taking my next big leap.

My coach used to talk about being too far away from the joy. Most people who know me would probably not describe me as an optimist (maybe because I’ve spent 14 years solving problems) but recently I’ve started to wonder. What if design were to focus on bringing form to a positive state rather than rectifying a negative one. Would that mean I could get closer to the joy I felt when I first wanted to be a designer (aged 16) or when I wanted to be an inventor (aged 10)?

What designing and inventing both have in common is they are both about making. Intentionally putting something out into the world with purpose. I’d like to use design to help people do this.

That’s why I’m launching Joy. A boutique design consultancy that helps organisations deliver on their promises by combining user research, service design and brand development.

When I used to work in branding I sometimes felt it could be a bit empty. The careful crafting of promises that were not always delivered on. What if organisations designed their services at the same time as they developed their brand so they could be sure they were practicing what they preached. Would that result in happier customers?

Through Joy I’m looking to work with:

  • Start-up businesses or not-for-profits that are in the early stages of their brand and service development
  • Small-medium sized businesses or not-for-profits looking for a review of their brand or service to move to the next level of growth
  • larger scale organisations looking to build the capability of their staff to design and deliver new propositions

Essentially, any organisation with big ideas that is looking to understand what brings their customers joy then design branded services that harness this insight.

Business aside, this move is grounded in personal intent. I want to work more flexibly and make time for other things that bring me joy. I want to knit scarves and sell them through my soon to be launched knitwear brand. I want to help grow the sustainable herb business at which I’m a director. I’d love to become a trustee for a charity working to advance trans rights. I want to take a memoir writing course and write a book. I want to travel again. But most importantly I want to make more time to see my lovely nieces smile.

If you’re interested in using design to bring joy to people then I’d love to work with you. I’m available now for initial conversations and for work from mid September 2021.