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Creating a Design Studio: The Elements of Design Studio Experience

The Elements of Design Studio Experience

There is a constant tension between the demands of your business—receiving monetary reward for your level of effort—and the knowledge that what you make has some form of meaningful impact. As design business owners and leaders, we wrestle with certain fundamental questions: What if I can’t earn a living running a design business? Am I going down the right path? Does this work make me happy?

Exactly how do you balance the competing demands of sustaining a profitable business with a joyful design practice? In the coming weeks, I'll be sharing the worksheets that comprise the last section of my new book Success by Design: The Essential Business Reference for Designers. You can use them to determine what your ideal design studio experience should be like. David Conrad (studio director of Design Commission) and I devised them, and we hope you can use them to better structure your design business to support what you love. Profitably.

The worksheet that kicks off this section of the book is The Elements of Design Studio Experience. This is a revised version of the framework I first wrote about two years ago on this blog (read more about it here).

Here's the new version of the worksheet, which you can download from SlideShare:

In the coming weeks, I'll be providing activities and accompanying worksheets that help you determine the five key elements in this framework that are necessary to create a stable design business: 1) Philosophy, 2) Customers & Staff, 3) Process & Culture, 4) Market Need & Capability, and 5) Product. By working your way from the bottom up, you’ll better understand how structure your design business to support your goals. I'll also provide you with an additional activity you can carry out to course-correct your business every three months.

Note: The worksheets I'll be sharing are covered under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. For details on this license, go to


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