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ECHO Brand Design Work Placement

Scott Kibblewhite from Canary Wharf College undertook a Teachers in Residence placement in October over two days.  This placement was hosted with Blueprint 1000 member Echo Brand Design.

Echo Brand Design

Formed in 2004, Echo is an independent Brand Design, Innovation and Sustainability agency based in London. Echo consists of an integrated team of visual planners, identity, packaging, structural, and product designers. They bring insight, creativity, and realisation together using the latest technology with craft to create seamless brand experiences.

They have many high-profile clients including Rexona (Sure deodorant in the UK), Kleenex, English Tea Shop, Smarties, and more. Echo bakes ethics into the heart of their work, believing that, as design fosters consumerism, design is obligated to address the consequences. So, as well as approaching brand design from a commercial perspective, designers employ their innovative thinking to investigate ways that design could make the world a better place.

Canary Wharf College

Scott initially heard about the placement through his head of department at Canary Wharf College. The placement was advertised via the Design and Technology Association and was quickly snapped up by Scott. He had also recently attended a separate workshop by Award-winning Product Design Engineer Jude Pullen at the time which he thoroughly enjoyed. This ignited a deep passion to learn more, and therefore the Teachers in Residence programme seemed a perfect opportunity to develop his skills.

Canary Wharf College is a secondary school for 11 – 16-year-olds. It opened in 2016, in the heart of the Docklands. Canary Wharf College Crossharbour is part of a growing Multi-Academy Trust, the third school founded by Sarah Counter. Canary Wharf year ten students are so enthused by Design and Technology that they are undertaking placements at London Design agencies including our Blueprint 1000 member, ELSE. Their vision is for all of their students to achieve academic success and develop the values and life skills that will allow them to lead happy and rewarding lives.

Their Design and Technology department is relatively small but makes a big impact on students and delivers high-quality teaching and support. The department fosters young talent and inspires them to succeed. This determination and drive in the pupils is reflected in the teachers and leaders at the school, who similarly want to grab opportunities and develop professionally.

Skills Gap

There is an ever-growing importance to connect industry and education to eliminate the skills gap. The Teacher in Residence programme aims to do just that as it helps to develop a deeper understanding of modern industry and the technical skills required by employers which gives a clearer view of the career pathways. This enables industry links and identifies opportunities available for students.

But the skills gap is unlikely to be completely eliminated. The UK will always need people with skills learnt with in design and technology. And businesses will always need to find ways to obtain these skills, that’s why schemes like this benefit schools and industry equally. Businesses can ensure the attributes they need are being taught in schools to help to equip young bright students entering the workforce with the relevant and required abilities.

How did it go

Scott commented on how it went above and beyond and far surpassed his expectations. “The vibrant, fast-paced studio was exceptionally welcoming and helpful during the residency”. Scott goes on to explain, “Everyone was open to questions and willing to talk and share what they were doing at any given point. There were 30-minute meetings scheduled with everyone in the company to get a clear overall picture of how the studio operates.”

Scott didn’t have a full understanding of the whole of the design sector prior to the residency and wasn’t involved in every design process during his own studies at university. His art-based background didn’t look at each distinct role or the intricacies of how a design studio operates, so this placement helped give a clearer picture on what goes on in industry. Following university, he began a career in cabinet-making which then paved the way for a technician position in a school. Working within the school brought his passion for teaching to the fore and he then went on to successfully pursue a career in teaching.

Teamwork

Scott remarks, “They were almost like a living organism, supporting each other and working together in harmony and it was excellent to see the teamwork that goes on in studios.”

The residency highlighted how essential teamwork is in the working world and this ethos has been adopted by Scott who emphasised how paramount teamworking is. There are a number of reasons why teaching teamwork in schools is important. For one, it helps students learn to communicate and cooperate with others. This is a valuable skill in a professional environment and encourages collaboration and growth. It was certainly a big factor in how Echo operates.

Moving Forwards

Since the residency teaching practice has been adapted to ensure projects are broken down to match the way design briefs are delivered in studios. This included more research and moodboard creation to help the students get clarity on the task in hand. On his latest brief for students, he asked himself “Let’s get a real client, let’s make sure we test it and make it seem as real as possible.” This then helped structure the project which is then transferrable to real-world design briefs. This change in style was heavily inspired by the residency at Echo as the studio shared a range of their case studies with Scott which displayed their approach and ethics.

Long term the plan is to introduce a lot more of the basic skills needed such as InDesign and Adobe and ensure the tools of the trade are intrinsically weaved into lesson plans. “Sometimes the focus is too much on the conceptual design process and we do need students to grasp those essential tools.” Scott explains.

So much was gained during a short space of time, and overall, the residency was a success with Scott gaining a great deal from the experience.

Teachers in Residence

This is a free programme that is managed by the Design and Technology Association and supported by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). Applicants will be matched with a company where they will be fully immersed in their day-to-day activities, from working across different departments, attendance at client meetings and as far as possible and hopefully it will provide a 360-degree first-hand experience of working in industry. For further information about how to get involved please email neesha.mistry@data.org.uk.

ECHO Brand Design is a member of our Blueprint 1000 initiative. If you are a business leader who would like to hear more about Blueprint 1000 or how the association aims to connect industry and education please email amelia.wright@data.org.uk or visit blueprint1000@data.org.uk.

For further information about ECHO Brand Design please visit: www.echobranddesign.co.uk.

Scott Kibblewhite

Canary Wharf College

“They were almost like a living organism, supporting each other and working together in harmony and it was excellent to see the teamwork that goes on in studios.”

Echo is an independent brand design, innovation and sustainability agency in London.

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