London doesn’t have to be the capital of design – so if you get bored of the Big Smoke take a look outside.
Think what you will of London, it’s a complex city. For every creative rush there’s a soul-draining downer. It’s a city that I’ve lived in for more years than I care to think about – and it’s a city that defines the very core of creativity, both at an extremely local level, and one played out on the global stage of design.
It’s a hub, a cesspool, a throne, a maze, and a beacon. It’s a rat city, and a rare city. A city of contradiction. For many of us, it’s also home. A place where we can relax in front of the electric glow of the TV set, listening to the muted hubbub of passers-by and the surge of sirens.
It’s a place that we can spread our creative wings, while linking up with other creative nomads in pubs, clubs, galleries, and squares to share our trials and belittle our foes.
There’s so much to admire about London as a city of experience – I remember trekking London’s streets and gawking at the architecture as I walked from Bow to Oxford Street during Tube strikes.
I love the little diversions, the ones that bring you to hidden places, as well as the ultra-modern military ranks of the Docklands. Living, studying, dating, and creating in London, though, is a game for the young.
Ideally, designers with strong shoes in case of Tube strikes, and ear plugs in case of flats with loud neighbours and cardboard walls. If you can stagger from a pub at two in the morning, decipher a bus route, get home in one piece and still get a client’s work in on deadline, then London is absolutely for you.
The pace is fast, the networking fun and haphazard, and the clients often loaded. London is design in the fast lane. Which, oddly enough, maybe why living outside London has proved so attractive.
That’s not because we can’t cut it in the fast lane, mind, it’s just that the ear plugs hurt like mad, and suddenly two in the morning seems awfully early. Or late. Depending on your point of view.
So, it’s out in the sticks for me, and for many designers, the lure of fresh air (tainted only with the whiff of cow dung) is proving a real draw. It’s one I’d recommend.
With the rapid rise of broadband and cheap phone calls, as well as online disk storage and photo galleries, the ability to share work with clients and deliver content in a flash means we’re seeing the start of a design migration.
And, with local businesses keen to work with local design companies, you can not only make a decent living, but you’ll find plenty of creative scope, too. You’ll also be sucking up less petrol fumes and downing more real ale.
Sure, many Smoke-bound designers will scoff at anyone casting off the cloak of the capital – but they overlook the benefits of our other fair cities. These offer much that London does, only with better access to the green stuff and a more relaxed way of life.
London doesn’t have to be the capital of design – wherever design talent flourishes is a home to creativity – so if you get bored of the Big Smoke, then maybe you should take a look outside.