The architecture and design world is one of dreams. It’s one of inspiration and it’s one of bravery. But for many of tomorrow’s greats, the dream seems unachievable. For myself, the journey was not what I expected.
July 2nd, 2018
Like all inspired, bright-eyed 18 year-olds, I embarked on a long, long journey breaking into the world of design. I did all the right things, checked all the boxes (undertaking a Bachelor of Interior Architecture and a Masters of Design), making sure that I was on top of every stepping-stone that would shape me into the ‘designer’ I wanted to be. And like all stories about a girl with big dreams, it had its ups and downs. I had to find my feet knowing that there were so many people out there with similar ambitions.
Leaving Thailand, Sydney seemed like a cornucopia of opportunities for emerging designers. But I never expected the odds to be so stacked against me. It’s not easy venturing into the industry – there are no criteria or constraints, no right or wrong. Apparently, some just have just the right luck, right attitude, and the determination to succeed. But sometimes, determination just won’t cut it. The heart pushes us forward, but the bank often has other ideas.
To this day, I have not practiced. At first, this was hard to accept. Why did I turn away from what I had ostensibly yearned for since childhood? Have I given up on the person that I wanted to become? No, I don’t think so. Was I disheartened by the apparent interminable struggle? To a degree. Or had I changed without realising it? A resolute yes. Soul searching for years drew my attention to another set of skills that I had not really paid that much attention to while chasing (seemingly endlessly) after the elusive goal of practicing design. I became a writer. And, I guess, the ultimate twist of irony is that my skills as a writer – and not a designer – paved the way to finally enter the professional design world.
As I look back today, my story ended very differently than I expected – but I hope that it becomes one of those success stories that inspire others to not give up or give in to the monkey on one’s back. Sadly, however, for a great many of my peers, their journeys did not have quite so happy an ending.
Why? The dreaded prototype.
Let’s forget (if only for a second) the egregious royalties structure of this industry, and look at how practicing designers feed themselves: production. In order to finally have the chance to produce one’s work, a rigorous period of prototyping needs to happen. Charles and Ray Eames’ now-famous Lounge Chair and Ottoman spent almost a decade in the prototyping stage, and for many this long period of experimentation and finessing spans just as many (if not more) years. It’s an exhaustive and expensive process, and frequently rings the death knell for emerging designers. During this period one has almost no access to the industry, crucial feedback or exposure to the wider design consciousness. And this is devastating.
Access to feedback is crucial. But it is also unbelievably difficult to come by! And with the design workforce numbers swelling like never before, it’s getting harder and harder. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a whole industry to get one product finally to market.
In 2003, a group of design industry leaders thought that this needed to change. What they eventually did was bring hope back to many who had all but given up on it. From a diverse cross-section of this industry – from architects to designers, suppliers to media and beyond – these leaders created Launch Pad: a mentoring platform that helps up-and-coming talent to launch their career and take a prototype through to production.
When I first heard of Launch Pad, I thought “finally!” I thought about all my peers who had given up their dream, and how an initiative like this would have turned their world upside down. I thought about the enormous possibilities for what this could do pushing the world of design forward. I thought about democracy and I thought about the very human quality of goodness.
This year, Launch Pad celebrates its fifteenth anniversary. It has been one of Asia Pacific’s most successful design initiatives, launching the careers of hundreds of designers, architects and creative professionals. For the winner it awards each year, Launch Pad promises “you matter. You have a place here”.
But Who Is Making This All Happen?
Each year, Launch Pad takes a lucky group of fledgling designers on a journey to develop their prototype and put it into production. In order to do this, these designers receive mentoring from leading minds in our industry on all manner of elements central to our practice: business management, product testing, retail processes, marketing and logistics, to merely name a few crucial learning outcomes of the program. It is little wonder, then, that the Official Partner of Launch Pad is Schiavello: one of the country’s biggest success stories in architecture and design.
“I don’t think I will ever completely understand or appreciate what my father and uncle have achieved. To come to Australia with little-to-no knowledge of English and create this kind of opportunity is nothing short of inspirational. They taught us to take nothing for granted, treat everyone with respect and believe that anything is possible. Culturally, this is what is instilled within our business today.” – Christopher Schiavello, Director of Schiavello Construction and International.
Schiavello is a company with a heart. It’s a company that wants to give back. And, like Launch Pad, it’s a company that believes in nurturing new talent to achieve their full potential. Offering unprecedented exposure and invaluable opportunity to have their prototypes taken through to production provides emerging designers with access to manufacturing, product development, marketing and business tools. “Schiavello is excited to be a part of Launch Pad,” says the brand’s Marketing and Design Director, Anton Schiavello. “It’s in the spirit of Schiavello‘s rich culture of supporting designers in Asia Pacific, aligning our fifty-plus years of creative leadership and vision with a new generation of designers.”
“Our collective design story extends internationally… and I’m excited to also collaborate with talent nurtured throughout Asia Pacific.” – Anton Schiavello, Marketing & Design Director.
From a family-owned company to now operating in over 15 countries, Schiavello always aims to be a changing force in the industry, nurturing emerging designers through programs like Launch Pad, thus making it one of the most proactive design companies in our region’s history.
Across several generations, the Schiavello success story is based on celebrating diverse experience, expert knowledge, and an unflagging commitment to develop intelligent and inspiring solutions for the future of any space. It’s a story that most individuals aspire to achieve for themselves and their own futures. And it’s one that definitely inspired me.
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