What's the secret of a successful design partnership?

We ask six creatives: "Design partnerships can be tricky to manage. What's the secret to success?"

There's no guarantee that even the most skilled creative partnership will succeed if there's a clash of personalities. Previously we've asked whether you should really set up a studio with your friends, and we've seen what can happen when designers fall out.

But things don't have to go wrong - sometimes they go spectacularly right. So here we canvas the opinions of some top designers on what they think the secret is to a successful design partnership.

Karl Maier
Co-founder, Craig & Karl

"Our biggest disagreement was clearly about whose name got to go first when we set up Craig & Karl. Actually no, I lie. It was always going to be Craig & Karl because we didn't want to get confused with a techno producer. Sadly we don't really disagree on anything much of note. Good partnerships are a matter of trust and compromise, but compatibility above all else. Putting 3,500 miles between you may also help."

Rob March
Creative Director, Beard

"We once formed a collaboration with a marketing and PR company. We did a load of design work for them, for which we were told we would receive reciprocal work. Suffice to say this didn't happen. When confronted, the conversation didn't go well. In hindsight, we got into bed too soon, and didn't have any kind of written arrangement in place if things went wrong. But you live and learn. We're still happy to work with other businesses – we're just a bit more savvy as a result."

Mario Hugo
Co-founder, Hugo & Marie

"A good partnership feels natural – even compromise should prove totally organic. Argue, be passionate about the work. Be honest and open with your ideas and feelings. The relationship won't work if one party is too passive. You need to encourage discussion even if each may find they have separate roles."

Yuko Shimizu
Illustrator

"I usually don't like to overstep the boundaries, but when something definitely isn't working out with a client project, and I can explain why, I write an email to them. Firstly, I explain that I don't, by any means, want to offend, and they can ignore me if they disagree. Then I offer what I think would be a better option. Usually, the client agrees and we get a much better result in the end."

Jacob Kent-Ledger
Managing director, Kentledger

"A few years ago, a friend and I joined forces for a creative mobile app concept, but the idea fell apart before launch because we had arguments over the ownership of the idea. Because it was a small idea and we wanted to get it off the ground, we hadn't done any paperwork. So my advice is – go with your creative idea or project, but remember the paperwork and legal side."

Nan Na Hvass
Co-founder, Hvass&Hannibal

"We've never had an extremely serious disagreement where we've thrown things at each other or haven't spoken for weeks, but of course smaller disagreements happen once in a while – and they should, as we are two different people. Sometimes we don't agree on which direction to take an idea, and mostly the best solution is to find a third direction, because it's much easier to complete a project if we both feel strongly for the concept. One secret to a successful partnership is to give each other space and positive feedback."

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 224.