Interning at Seymourpowell - The first week

Seymourpowell are based in London and are one of the most highly regarded design consultancies in the UK. They work on a huge number of projects ranging from speakers, to train interiors, to motorbikes and even outdoor clothing; with these projects being for extremely influential clients such as Unilever, LG and Cadbury. After signing a fair few NDA's I can't give anything away about what I'm working on. Sadly this mean photos will be kept to a minimum and I'm going to have to be quite vague about certain things.

Almost a year ago today I was approached by Seymourpowell about an opportunity to intern with them. This came about when a designer working there saw my work online, forwarded it onto their director who then got in contact with me. I felt incredibly privileged that I could start my design career at such a renowned company, so I of course signed my 3 month contract and here I now am.

Walking into a huge company like this for my very first day of professional design work was quite intimidating to say the least! Over the last 5 years I have founded and ran my own company, headed up another and have worked on endless freelance design contracts. However this doesn't really prepare you for this experience. Yes it means you know what you are doing when it comes to design, but it also meant I had no idea what to expect at all. I didn't know how companies like this work, didn't really know what each day of work would look like, and crucially had no idea what they expected from me.

For the majority of the Internship I will be working with the Packaging design team who work on almost everything. They don't make standard cardboard packages for boring products, but instead create extremely clever solutions that win a lot of design awards. A great example of this is their Lynx can or this Cadbury's product.

The working hours at SP (Seymourpowell) are pretty relaxed which meant I got in on Monday morning at 9.30 and after a bit of waiting around was shown to my desk, where I was given a very new MacBook and all the card a and prototyping tools I would ever need. One of the designers in the team gave me a quick tour around SP's new studio's in Southfields and after being introduced to one of the Directors, I was put straight to work. I haven't had the chance to do much cardboard model making but with my first task being to make some final packaging prototypes, which were to be presented to the client, it became clear that I will be getting pretty good at this! Cardboard is a very diverse material that can be used to make quick crude mock ups but, with some skill, can create packaging that is almost as good as the mass produced solutions you see from the likes of Apple. The design team here are amazing at this and over the next 3 months I'm going to be learning so much about cardboard prototyping.

As much fun as making things is, I was glad to see that not all my time would be spent doing this. One of my favourite aspects of design is researching problems and create solutions that the users actually want. And on my second day I was taken along to a creative session with various designers to work on a new concept. Due to the NDA's I can't be too specific, but the aim was to update a packaging solution on the market they had worked on with new technology to help engage the users. It's been a good few months since I had been in a group creative environment such as this, and being in a place where every single designer there is amazing at what they do is so inspiring.

For a good few hours people were constantly chucking out ideas and building upon each others creating endless solutions that all had at least some potential. This is the reason why people hire these guys. They are just so damn good at what they do! After initially speaking out with a few ideas I quickly became more integrated into the session and having world class designers listen to what you have to say, and then build upon it, is such a great feeling!

For the rest of the week I was asked to work on creating concepts for a Limited Edition packaging solution. I was given completely free reign and quickly began sketching out ideas, prototyping cardboard mechanism and making full scale models. Being able to spend 3 days working on this and learning new techniques from the other guys in the team gave me the chance to understand techniques quickly and start to see how the team works. I never expected to be given this much freedom, and it seems that being an intern means you are given the tools to learn but still have to push yourself really quite hard. Next week I will be getting feedback on the models I have made, so it's going to be interesting to see how that goes.

As a whole the first week has been eye opening. Not only because it is a completely new experience, but also just seeing how top class designers can constantly churn out creative ideas and get stuck in no matter what.