A personal letter from the editor
Katie | March 23, 2017
Read the last post from Design Geek editor Katie Treggiden – a personal goodbye and look back over some of the blog’s best bits.
I am writing this with a heavy heart, because this is to be the very last confessions of a design geek post. I have been writing this blog for seven years and in that time I have gone from being someone who is passionate about design, to someone who blogs about design, to a full-time design journalist, editor of an independent design magazine and author of three design books. I am about to take the next big leap of my career – I have been offered a place at the University of Oxford to study MSt History of Design. It’s a part time course, so I’ll be continuing my work as a journalist alongside my studies, but sadly, I won’t be able to keep up Design Geek too, so this is goodbye.
I have been incredibly humbled to realise how important this little blog has become to the design community, especially to design students, all over the world, so I am truly sorry to hit to the stop button. But so that we can go out on a high, I thought I’d share some of my favourite memories, proudest achievements and most heartfelt thank yous. I’m incredibly proud of everything I’ve achieved with this blog, and profoundly grateful to everyone who has helped make it happen, but the first thank you is to you. None of this would have happened without my loyal band of readers, so thank you. It’s been an incredible journey and I’m so grateful that you all came along for the ride.
Next up is Paul Armstrong. One Friday evening some work colleagues invited me for a drink after work, I politely declined, bashfully explaining that I was going to a private view of some hand-printed wallpaper instead. They laughed, called me a nerd, and Paul said, “You should write a blog.” I thought he was ribbing me, but the next morning he sat me down and showed me (a) what a blog was, and (b) how to set one up. A web domain and a twitter handle later and I was off. Thank you Paul – as I’m very fond of saying, this was all your fault!
Quite ridiculously, five weeks later, confessions of a design geek was nominated for an award. It went on to win mydeco’s Best Interior Design Blog in Great Britain – just five months after it had launched! Part of my prize was to be the official blogger for the London Design Festival and I was hooked. So big thank you to Kelly Hoppen and Brad Ford who were on the judging panel – and to Daniel Nelson who launched the awards in his role at mydeco, now runs October Communications, and has become a real friend. Design Geek went on to be listed as a ‘top design blog’ by Elle Decor Italia, Dwell US, The Sunday Times (thanks Katrina – that made my Mum’s day!), Cision, Amara and lots of other really lovely people – thank you all. All of that gave me the confidence to write and publish my first book, a collection of Q&As with designers, entitled Interviews that was stocked by the V&A, the Design Museum shop and Skandium among others.
I started writing for Design Milk – my first paid design writing gig, for which I will always be grateful to Jaime Derringer – and at the end of 2011, I took the leap and left a 12-year career in advertising to see if I could become a design journalist. I quickly found a home as the part-time in-house copywriter for Maggie’s, re-writing all their communications following a Pentagram rebrand and eventually developing a Lexicon to define their tone of voice. Maggie’s provides emotional, practical and social support to people with cancer and their families and friends from striking buildings within the grounds of specialist cancer hospitals. I loved working with such an incredible charity and am very proud to this day of the impact I was able to make in the way they communicate. It was both an honour and a privilege to tell the stories of some of the most courageous people I have ever met. Huge thank you to all the team there, and to all the people with cancer who trusted me enough to share their experience with me.
Outside of my work for Maggie’s, I seemed to spend most of 2012 bouncing around international trade shows! It was my first real taste of the international design festival circuit and I’ve been doing it ever since. As well as going to Maison et Objet with the lovely Zoe Brewer, the Stockholm Furniture Fair, and Milan Design Week, Design Geek was selected as one of twenty blogs to be represented in New York for one of the very first Blog Tours – it was an absolute blast and where I met fellow blogger Stacey Sheppard, another design pal I’m very grateful to know!
2012 was also the year that I launched the confessions of a design geek bursary with Clarion, one of the things I am most proud of to this day. Every year since then, we have awarded a bursary, now worth £10K in kind, to launch a new designer’s career. Jessica Hogarth won in 2012/3 and then Fanny Shorter in 2013/4, Alicja Patanowski in 2014/5 and Marta Bordes in 2015/6. It was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, so huge thanks to all the partners and mentors who gave up their time for free year after year to make it happen: Ian and Alejandra at Top Drawer, Adam at the Barbican Centre, Jess at West Elm, Yeshen Venema, Blair at Press Loft, David at Seen PR, Jo at HAM, Justyna at Decorum, Daniel at October Communications, and Patricia at The Design Trust.
In 2013, I hurtled around lots more international trade shows, founded We Blog Design (now run by the lovely Daniel Nelson), published the the May Design Review and the London Design Review – precursors to Fiera Magazine – and launched Brink – a showcase of new design talent at Tent (now the London Design Fair.) Huge thanks to Yeshen Venema, Zoe Brewer and Jimmy MacDonald for making that happen. confessions of a design geek also won the Bloghome By The Baltic Sea competition run by Visit Finland, as the blog chosen to represent design and architecture – which meant I got to spend an amazing long weekend in Helsinki and the archipelago.
In 2014, I began a collaboration with Desso, which has seen me curate window installations, exhibitions and talk programmes on everything from new design talent to the power of individuality. I also began working writing part-time as an in-house design reporter at Dezeen and will be fovever grateful for Dan Howarth, Amy Frearson and Anna Winston from who I learnt so much so quickly. 2014 was also the year that saw me fulfil a lifelong dream of meeting Sir Kenneth Grange, and not only did I get to meet him, but I was lucky enough to interview him in front of a live audience for Clerkenwell Design Week. The note his PR sent me afterwards telling me how impressed he had been with me is still stuck up above my desk. I was invited to speak at blogging conference The Hive in Copenhagen about building an authentic brand with social media, something that built on the lecturing I was doing at that time for the London College of Communication.
In July we raised £16,332 on Kickstarter (against a target of £14,000) to fund the first issue of Fiera Magazine, which launched in December. I can still remember the smell of new paper and ink as I opened the box and held a copy of Issue 01 in my hands for the first time. After a lot of incredibly hard work it was a truly unforgettable moment, for which I will be forever grateful to the incredibly talented Jeremy Leslie of magCulture. We published four issues over two years, ran a series of events called the Fiera Briefings and curated a series of exhibitions called the Fiera Edits. I must also thank Steve Watson, Anthony Leyton and Rebecca Harkness at this moment, all of whom were absolutely instrumental in Fiera’s success.
In 2015, my second book, Makers of East London was published by Hoxton Mini Press and led to a series of events, exhibitions and workshops across London. Design Geek launched #designbookclub a monthly online book club that meets to discuss design books – and we had contributors for the first time in the shape of the amazing Kate Brewer and Maya Alvarado, both of whom wrote brilliant columns for us. With a slightly different hat on, I also combine my background of 12 years in brand strategy with my editorial experience to work with brands as a creative consultant and copywriter, and in 2015 the American Hardwood Export Council commissioned me to write a series of four essays about the Invisible Store of Happiness by Sebastian Cox and Laura Ellen Bacon, which was a really rewarding project.
Last year we redesigned and relaunched this website – huge thank yous to everyone at Venn Creative for all their talent and hard work to make that happen. The lovely Rebecca Harkness joined me as my partner in crime and worked incredibly hard to get the Jobs Board off the ground as well as everything else – it was really fun having a team-mate for the first time, and I am so grateful to her for all her hard work, ideas and enthusiasm. I wrote the foreword to a third book, Residents: Inside the Iconic Barbican Estate, by the wonderful photographer Anton Rodriguez, and continued to write for Guardian, Elle Decoration, Stylist, Design Milk (where I am Editor at Large), The Spaces, AnOther Magazine, etc, etc – none of which would have happened without this little blog, that seven years ago was only being read by my Mum!
It’s been an absolute whirlwind and I feel so privileged to have been on a journey from someone standing on the fringes of the design industry peering in with nothing but passion, to someone who makes my living in this wonderful community every day. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
All my love, your humble editor,