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Month / February 2015

Fill in the Blanks

We have a large set of shelves in our office that we call our library. It contains an arrangement of books organised informally by size and sectioned into:

• Old reference books.

• Treasured design, art and architecture books.

• Multiple copies of lovely books that we have designed ourselves. (These ones get the most space and are kept together like a trophy cabinet).

As well as all that there’s a section crammed with all shapes and sizes of blank dummies. A blank dummy, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a set of unprinted pages made up to show the size, paper, binding and general appearance of a book or publication. This is an essential stage in the design process, for without a blank dummy we can only guess how the printed piece will feel in our hands and if we get this wrong then the job’s ruined. This somewhat surreal short film by Michael Harvey and John Morgan gives an insight into the life of a blank dummy.

The blank dummy section is my favourite section of our library. I’ll choose a dummy, open it up and take in a page, turn over to the next and the next. My imagination is open to what could be printed on each page without any requirements of a brief or commitment of any detail. It’s the opportunity that’s exciting… like Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day, or the imaginary character in a book rather than the real character in the film. Imagination comes up trumps every time.


Lucy Richards

Challenging Behaviour

We’re always up for a challenge and quite enjoy being pushed out of our comfort zones. In that spirit we’re trying a few things out over the coming weeks. We’ll be taking turns to have a go at the challenges below and would love to hear from anyone else who wants to try them. Let us know how you get on and we’ll report back on our findings…

1. Get up, stand up
Spend at least 2 hours of each working day standing up, for a week. Standing burns calories, improves posture, increases blood flow and makes you feel more assertive and energised. Make it easy by standing up for four 30-minute chunks or try standing up every time you make a phone call.

2. Don’t mention the weather
It’s a predictable opener for every meeting and every morning – can we avoid it for a week? Making a real connection with somebody through stimulating, thoughtful conversation is good for your health and happiness. Relish the challenge of getting to know them a bit better.

3. Try a Digital Sabbath
No internet connection, no laptops, computers, tablets or smartphones for a whole day. The great outdoors and a great book will help with this one (I’d recommend the Alan Partridge autobiography). Spending time outdoors can significantly decrease stress, reduce anger and fear, and increase pleasant feelings.

4. Write to your friends
Send a handwritten postcard to a different friend or family member every day for a week. Taking the time and effort to write to someone (especially someone who doesn’t have the internet or a mobile) is a gesture that will be sure to put smiles on faces. I’m not sure if the biggest challenge is making my handwriting legible or thinking of something interesting to say.

Good luck!


Dave King

The Next Big Thing

The issue of obesity is big and it’s only getting bigger. 

Some things that alarm me: 

• M&S offers ‘Plus Fit’ clothing in their primary school uniform range. 

• School dinners provided by our local council offer a menu of choices that includes just one ‘healthy option’ for our kids (how many 6-year-olds will choose the vegebake over the pizza with chips?). 

• Bariatric care environments (just Google the images!) and bariatric furniture are a real consideration in the design of new healthcare, leisure and workplace environments. 

• Jamie Oliver warns us that ours will be the first generation to outlive the next because of the soaring diabetes rates and health problems children are faced with.

This is all wrong.

Let’s face it, we need to sit less and stand, and walk, more. We spend a lot of time working and most of that time sitting at a desk. So, at StudioLR we have taken some tiny steps to shift our culture towards a healthier workplace. 

At the start of last year we offered our employees one hour out of their working week to spend doing something healthy. By summer we had two obsessed ‘Tough Mudders’ (the 10-12 mile obstacle race designed to test mental grit and physical strength), one endurance cyclist clocking up 50 mile rides, a 100 x pull-up and press-up challenge, and we noticed the shift from crisps and biscuity snacks to oatcakes and unsalted almonds. And the occasional square of dark chocolate. 

We encourage a step-away-from-your-desk and walk-over-to-talk-to-each-other culture and a we-won’t-laugh-at-you-for-stretching policy. Only two sick days taken last year across the whole team seems remarkable – all in all a happier and healthier workforce. 


Lucy Richards