How to design without ego

Camden market tote bag reading 'Live by the river'

Farringdon-based studio Ragged Edge prides itself on having no egos. "Our strategy was always to hire people better than us," explains co-founder Max Ottignon. "That's how to get better – you have to put your ego aside if you’re bringing in all these talented people who can do things better than you can."

It's a great ideal, but how does it work in the real world? In this video and written interview below, creative director Luke Woodhouse reveals how Ragged Edge's open, collaborative and ego-free creative process works in practice, and how his 'T-shaped' team of designers can rise to any challenge.

01. Get T-shaped

"To get that sort of integrated approach and that seamless brand experience, we've built a real mixed team with a lot of different skills," says Woodhouse. "We love the principle of having 'T-shaped' people." 

People wearing Camden market typography black and white T-shirts

Ragged Edge's rebranding of Camden Market was a real passion project for many of the creatives, and won a Wood Pencil at the D&AD Professional Awards 2017

He's referring to the idea that the vertical bar of the T represents a depth of expertise in a particular field, while the horizontal bar represents a spread of more generalist skills. 

"All of our branding designers have something that makes them stand out, whether it's 3D, specialism in digital design, motion typography, that sort of thing."

02. Keep learning new skills

"Learning new skills just happens quite naturally over the course of a project," Woodhouse believes. 

"We're always looking for the best ways to do something – and there's always a better way to do anything that comes along, and I think that's something really inherent in Ragged Edge's nature. We needed to make a film, so Sam learnt how to use After Effects!"

03. Collaborate and communicate

Woodhouse admits that sometimes – especially when the pressure is on – the last thing you want to do as a designer is discuss your work: "It's kind of easy to revert to getting headphones on, getting your head down and doing it on your own."

Hot pink, green and navy blue artwork for Bulb rebrand

Ragged Edge rebranded green energy company Simple Energy as Bulb, and developed a campaign based around the idea of Positive Energy

But, he believes, that's not helpful in the long run, and the more you communicate among your team, the better the results will be. 

"I think we have got a really good team ethic here – a good team spirit. Everyone's really collaborative and naturally supportive. When we're reviewing work over the course of a project, everything just goes up on the wall. Everyone's invited to join in, whether it's your project or not. Good ideas can come from anywhere."

This article was originally published in issue 273 of Computer Arts, the global design magazine – helping you solve daily design challenges with insights, advice and inspiration. Buy issue 273 here or subscribe to Computer Arts here.

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Nick Carson

Nick is a content strategist and copywriter. He has worked with world-class agencies including Superunion, Wolff Olins and Vault49 on brand storytelling, tone of voice and verbal strategy for global brands such as Virgin, Pepsi and TikTok. Nick launched the Brand Impact Awards in 2013 while editor of Computer Arts, and remains chair of judges. He's written for Creative Bloq on design and branding matters since the site's launch.