Evolving business models, more humane ways of living, and the need for collaboration emerged as just some of the themes in the What We Need Now conversation with East London designers and entrepreneurs Ella Doran and Sian Evans. Moderated by curator and design consultant Charlene C Lam of The Creative Edit, the conversation is now available for replay:
Here are some of the observations and insights shared by our speakers:
On Doing Better and Doing More with Less
“With the nature of the time that we live in, people have had more time to think about how they want to function and connect with more responsible ways of living. Lots of people have started gardening, for instance. And also people have been thinking about how to recycle. It’s suddenly made a lot of people wake up and think: What can we do better?” – Sian Evans
“It’s almost like we were being guided to do more with less, which is what the planet needs.” – Ella Doran
On What We Need Now, As Creative Individuals
“We all have this kind of underlying, new layer of anxiety because we live in uncertain times. I think that impacts creatives a lot. Having a layer of anxiety can impact on your energy levels, definitely. So I find some days I’m really, really productive. And other days, I really don’t feel like doing very much.
But because I live very close to my studio and it’s just a nice walk, I’ve got the discipline of coming in every day, at the same time and working on something — even if it’s polishing hammers.” – Sian Evans
On Evolving Business Practices
“We’ve always created roller blinds made to order. But because my whole company is now really streamlining to made-to-order, the stuff that sits on a shelf is literally selling off and not being replenished.
The whole premise is that we just go to create for people that want it.
With the roller blinds, we’re now trying to close the loop because when you think, “Oh, I want a new window blind,” the old blind more often than not ends up in landfill. And yet the chains are of value.
I’ve just found a jewelry designer who’s working with roller blind chain. So she’s getting a whole load of them from us. Before, I was taking them to the metal recycling, or plastic recycling.
So I am excited in a way by the new hunger (because of the situation we’re in) for reuse and thinking, “What can I do with this?” – Ella Doran
On What the Industry Needs
“I find proper adult businesses really fascinating. The industry, especially in the UK, has a lot of fascination with emerging designers and the newest thing, or the luminaries, the big names. There’s not as much focus on the people in between. And I think the people in between are the most fascinating. It’s easy to start a business, but to keep it going and keep it evolving — that’s where the real challenge is.” – Charlene C Lam
“Very good work comes out of collaboration. That idea of having total ownership over everything that you design, or you have your name on, is kind of old fashioned.” – Sian Evans
“Transparency is going to be the new currency for success.” – Ella Doran
On Silver Linings and Lessons
“We are in situations now that we couldn’t have imagined being in seven months ago. While that’s really disconcerting, I also think, ‘Oh, but what else is possible? If this kind of craziness is possible, what kind of positive things could be possible?'” – Charlene C Lam
“The biggest silver lining is humanity realizing it can change really radically and really quickly. Before the pandemic hit, it seemed like making any small changes was difficult. Politicians, structures and systems feel kind of intransigent and unable to shift. But we’ve seen that is just not the case. Now, we can. If we want to, we can change.” – Sian Evans
“The social value of our communities really comes into sharp focus in a positive way. If anything, we need to talk that up all the more, rather than the negative stuff that can come at us from news platforms.” – Ella Doran
Watch the replay for more of the insight and experiences shared by designers and entrepreneurs Ella Doran, Sian Evans and Charlene C Lam.
Learn more about our speakers at:
Charlene C Lam