Doing Studio Notes

Everyone’s time is valuable. Everyone’s inbox is precious.

We all suffer from unwanted email, and it can be time-consuming and tedious to unsubscribe from all of the spam that you didn’t subscribe to in the first place. On the other hand, there are some emails that you receive regularly that are welcome because they contain well presented and engaging, inspirational or educational content that resonates with you.

Ahem! We’re not sure that Studio Notes is that thing…but that’s the goal to which we aspire.

To keep moving in the right direction, we’ve been working towards integrating the production of Studio Notes within the normal activities of the office. This isn’t for reasons of efficiency; it’s because to do what we do, we need to be engaged, inspired and educated.

A lot of the content that we share internally is worthy of a wider audience. For instance, as architects, we need to keep reminding ourselves what good design is, we need to know what the latest technical innovations are, and we need to stay abreast of recent developments in the way people live and how society is changing.

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The best

We’re not journalists, marketers or business gurus, so we don’t mind taking advice from the best. We’ve gone out of our way to search out some of the best people and sources to help us.

This may mean reading books such as David Hieatt’s book, ‘Do Open’ (the best book on how to create a simple newsletter) or Seth Godin’s book, ‘Tribes’ (the best book on how to find your followers).

Or it may mean reading blog posts such as ‘How to get newsletter subscribers’ (by one of the best newsletter producers) or ‘Why no one wants to read your newsletter’ (by one of the best marketers).

But it also means working with the best, and we are indebted to Sharon Tanton and Sonja Jefferson of Valuable Content for their constant enthusiasm and guidance in helping us to use what we do to sell what we do (sounds simple, doesn’t it?!). And we are also indebted to Tim LeRoy of Dirt Meets the Water for his strategic advice in helping to shape the business.

The actual content that we share amongst ourselves each month comes from a huge variety of sources, such as:

- The real world
- Real projects
- Our industry
- Printed books and magazines
- Online magazines
- Blogs
- Social media
- Other newsletters

Some of the best design-related newsletters that we subscribe to include:

- Hiut denim
- Alan Moore
- Cate St Hill
- Austin Kleon
- Do Lectures 
- Italian Bark
- Solidwool

And some of the best design-related online magazines that we follow (all of which have newsletters) include:

- Dezeen
- Ignant
- Yellowtrace
- Gessato
- The Spaces
- WePresent
- Creative Boom
- Design Milk
- Cereal


To share things amongst the team, other than word of mouth, we use Pocket and Slack. Pocket is an app for saving online content for later. With the use of an account that is accessible to the whole team, we can maintain a developing library that is used by everyone. Slack is a collaboration tool which can be used, amongst other things, for sharing ideas and inspiration and for having online conversations in which everyone can participate. All done without clogging up inboxes.

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Every week we hold a standup team meeting. This is an opportunity for us to talk face to face, to share what we’re doing and what’s helping or hindering us. It’s also a chance for us to share ideas and anything that has inspired us. We try to keep it interesting by asking a different question each time. Staying in touch and receiving feedback is always helpful. Things never get worse as a result of a conversation, they only get better. The power of the team is something to value.

Our own content

Architects are not writers. You will know this if you’ve ever read a typical architect’s design statement for their latest pet project. Difficult to read, flowery turns of phrase, obscure terms, the language of architects can often be impenetrable.

But the benefits of learning to write well are enormous, which is why we’re encouraging everyone to contribute to Studio Notes. To write well is to think well and there are obvious parallels with the skills you need for designing well. Sitting down to write an article is not for everyone, though, and this means that more creative ways are required to arrive at the desired result. If someone prefers to talk or draw or photograph or perform (!), that’s fine. We’ll find ways of capturing that instead.


Towards the end of each month Adam, Liam and Andy meet to review what we’ve come across during the previous four weeks. There’ll be a tonne of stuff that we filter out because it’s poorly presented or too technical or too esoteric. We want a balanced mix of the best of the best from our little corner of the universe. Content that we find to be well presented and engaging, inspirational or educational. We hope you do too.

Adam, Liam & Andy