Alice Hoult, 29 January 2013

Session called by Alice Hoult, attendees were Tom Spencer, Tom Martin and Michelle

Owoo, and a couple of others towards the end, sorry I didn't get your names...

I felt as though designers were underrepresented at D&D this year, where are we all?

It frustrates me that there are potential collaborators out there who are struggling to

find a designer when I know there are many designers open to collaboration who

aren't being found.


A preconception about designers working to commission was discussed. It was

mentioned that money is an issue and people aren't sure how much designers should

be paid, one issue was not having the language to have a dialogue about design, not

knowing how to find the kind of designer they need.

There is some fear involved with embarking on that relationship in case it doesn't work

out, taking a risk on someone you don't know. The Young Vic runs sessions to help

directors and designers begin those collaborations, no one at the session had followed

through with anyone they met there.

No one I spoke to knew about the SBTD (society of british theatre designers) as a

resource for finding a designer.

Preconception that the director/performer has to be the initiator, some would like to

know what designers want to do?

Solutions and positives

Directors would like to see designer's process, would benefit from an open studios

event. Perhaps directors could present a series of scratches to show their own

process to potential design collaborators.

Designers tend to be better at documenting everything which is really useful in a

work-in-progress situation.

Designers as initiators: It was talked about that directors can feel pressure and

loneliness at the stage of ideas generation, and some would love to be brought in to a

project with a brief that a designer has set them. Is there a way programmers can work

with designers to initiate a project in a specific space, work with them to come up with

a brief and work on reading applications from directors. Tom M had worked as a

performer in a space initiated by 2 designers at BAC, it was suggested that this is a

good venue to produce work in this way.

There is often a question around who owns the work when in the collaborative/ideas

stage. It was suggested that a kind of consultancy session would help both directors

and designers talk about their projects, get expertise from the other side, and find

someone they like working with, with less risk involved and a prior agreement to

openly share ideas.

Finally to mention, directors know directors and designers know designers, - we need

to share contacts!


I will organise an event based on an ‘open studio’ model where designers set up their

‘desks’ - focusing on process, how they like to work and what inspires them. Michelle

has offered to help me advertise this event to producers and directors, Tom will pass

this on to his contacts, and will think about organising the partner event which would

be for directors to showcase their work

Links: - Society of British Theatre Designers

Call Out

Anyone interested in getting involved with an ‘open studio’ event please leave a

comment here and it will get sent to my inbox. Anyone who can suggest a space with

desks/tables that this could happen in, please do also get in touch! Or if you have a

resource/list of people who might like to come along to the event.


process, Process, collaborators, Risk, scratch performance, Initiate, open studios,

documentation, initiate, visual artists, SBTD, designers, Documentation, risk

Comments: 2

Abigail Anderson, 1 February 2013

Hello there, Alice. I'm a freelance director who'd love to come to an Open Studio event such as you describe. Please put me

on your mailing list [email protected]. I'd also be happy to extend the invitation around my director colleagues'

network. Best wishes, Abi

Lisa Sangster, 10 May 2013

Hi Alice

I am a designer living and working in Scotland and we share similar problems up here. I would be really interested to hear

how your open studio event went? My e-mail add is [email protected]

Best wishes