Five questions for creatives
Nicola Westgarth-Flynn is a product designer and part of the St Neots based duo that formed Koti Studio in 2014. The creative design studio specialises in industrial design within the homewares sector. The studio has a growing portfolio of work, with high profile brands such as; Lakeland, Joseph Joseph and Joules.
Nic gained valuable product design experience working for Pearson Lloyd, Cambridge Consultants and TTP. She also freelanced for Charlie Oulten and Team Consulting. Her strengths lie in initial concepting, brainstorming ideas, and ensuring the products remain realistic, practical and manufacturable.
How did you get into the creative industry, and was there a defining point in your career that led you on that path?
Having always flourished in Design and Technology lessons at school, I had been lead towards a career in engineering by my school and family – I initially had no idea that Product Design was a profession. I was invited to take part in an engineering taster week where I would go and sample various areas of engineering, and I realised that I hated all of them! Engineering wasn’t how I’d ever imagined it to be – I wanted to be coming up with new products, solving problems for people and generally being more creative – not being stuck in a heap of maths all the time! My mum suggested to me that I should choose my favourite school subject to study at university instead. I said that DT was what I really wanted to do – but that I couldn’t do that at uni. I did some research and found out that you could in fact study DT, and really, as a professionalism it is referred to as industrial or product design. We went along to an open day at Brunel University, and after the opening talk, and seeing the concept models and renderings around the walls, I knew that the design school was the place for me to be!
Is there anything you would change in your current career and if so why?
I’m very lucky to be in the position of being my own boss, and working with another great designer. There isn’t much about my job that I’d change. I’m proud to have reached this far by this age, and appreciate how good I’ve got it – something which is always re-iterated to me when I talk to new people about what I do. I suppose like all creatives, there will always be a small part of me that longs to go and live in a massive workshop, where I would be able to design and make whatever I wanted with no clients and no constraints, but we are getting ever closer to that as a company as we strive to set up our own brand for which we can design and manufacture products that we can really call our own.
Where do you see yourself, and your career in five years time?
5 years time will see me turning 30. I’d really like to see the Koti Brand flourishing by then – it’d be so great for our own design work and products to be self-sustaining without the input of cash from the consultancy side of things. Later in my life I’d love to become a well-known and respected designer within the design world, so the idea that by 5 years time, Koti might be becoming a recognised brand in the UK is really exciting.
Are there any rules or habits that help you do your job more efficiently?
There’s nothing like a good deadline. If we don’t have any looming, we make them! Usually each week we will plan work to be done each day, and have a good idea of what needs to be finished by the end of the week. Apart from special circumstances, we try not to stop until we’ve got through our list of tasks and targets.
What tips would you give to anybody who is looking to get started in the creative industry?
I would urge everybody to find a section of the industry that they really enjoy and are passionate about. Unlike other industries, in the creative industry, you need to be prolific and self-reliant, as you have to produce all of your own answers and work. This can require a lot of drive, and such passion can’t be found unless you don’t truly love what you do.