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Pivot Etc.

24 Things We’ve Learned About Design (Over 24 Years): Part 1

August 04, 2022 3 minute read

This month, Pivot Design Group celebrates its 24th year in business as a design studio in Toronto. To mark the occasion, we thought it would be interesting to come up with 24 things that we’ve learned about working in design and what it takes to run a thriving design studio. In this post, and in each of our subsequent weekly posts for the month of August, we list the first six on the list:

  1. PIVOT! PIVOT! PIVOT! – always be open to the possibility of change. Be agile and ready to learn, adapt in the moment, and then be ready to adapt again. Adaptability is one of the most important of design principles and embracing it will be invaluable to you over and over again.
  2. Retooling Your Design Practice – during the COVID-19 pandemic, our physical and digital worlds melded together like never before. As a result, technology accelerated, taking us toward a new virtual and remote working reality. WFM became the norm, our homes morphed into our workplaces, and we quickly became experts in new software tools and virtual surroundings on a daily basis. As designers, we took on significant change and embraced the new normal, staying creative and being collaborative in the new design universe.
  3. Flexibility is Good – it’s OK to make mistakes. They happen! The trick is to own them, understand them and learn from these experiences. That way, you’ll continue to grow as a designer, acquire more creative skills and prepare yourself for the next phase in your professional journey.
  4. Have Patience – the other side of the coin! Don’t be in such a hurry to come up with the answer. And don’t overthink your plan for reaching your destination. Your path is in the learning. It is where you will build your skillsets, shape your interests and help you learn to be the designer you want to be.
  5. User-Centred Design (UCD) Research – applying UCD research early in the design process can help reduce those costly late-stage changes that can come up in the project. According to IBM, “companies that do not use UCD research in their product development stage tend to spend up to 80% of their costs on unforeseen user needs down the track.”
  6. We Don’t Know Everything! – often at the start of projects, most of us find we know comparatively little about our clients’ industries and the people using their products and services. Design research is the solution to providing that knowledge. Giving us the necessary understanding and helping to build the empathy for users and open doors to creative solutions for their needs.

This month Pivot Design Group celebrates its 24th year in business as a Toronto design studio. In the first of four weekly posts for the month of August, we thought we would mark the occasion by listing six interesting things that occurred to us about design practice and running a studio.


Ian Chalmers, RGD
Principal & Creative Director

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