There are a few companies out there with whom the &co blog shares a similar name – perhaps unsurprisingly a number of these companies are in creative fields.
I met &company’s Director, Anna Lise de Lorenzo, in a small café in Sydney’s Surry Hills where we began with a short history of the company, which has only really been around since December 2009, but is already making its mark.
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“I’m really interested in product design,” Anna Lise explains, “but I’m somewhere between industrial designer and craftsperson – that in-between zone that doesn’t really have much of an industry in Australia if you’re a graduate.
“It’s really either you start your own studio, which is hard to do, or you just do corporate web design because that’s where the jobs are.
“So it was trying to hold on to those people who weren’t yet going to be entrepreneurial on their own, but there was just nowhere for them to install those skills.”
So &company was born – as a place where these designers could exhibit (sometimes for the first time publicly) and then take their prototypes to manufacture. So far, the first range is currently in production with 3 pieces by Harriet Watts, Sarah Long and Naomi Taplin:
‘Bounty’ – Naomi Taplin &company
The ‘Milkskin’ Jug – Harriet Watts &company
‘Pebble Platter’ – Sarah Long &company
The idea is simple – bring together a range of people with diverse skills across multiple disciplines to make the most out of your resources. Anna Lise has sought advice from a number of professionals in object design as well as calling on other skills (from copywriting to legals) when and if they’re needed.
“I’m the director and I usually have one intern working with me. I always get asked ‘who’s the we’, but it’s far, far more than just me.”
The question that’s always at the front of my mind – and it’s something I plan to delve into in more depth – is; ‘how do people make money from creative collaborations?’.
Anna Lise presents a simple equation that, although it’s early days, essentially sees the designer pocket 60% of the profits and &company 40%. It will be interesting to find out how others go about it and if it’s sustainable.
“It’s pretty fun, and the people that I’ve met, that I would never have had the opportunity to meet… it’s incredible how generous people are with their information.”
I wonder if this is the most significant part about a creative collaboration – does it bring a sort of legitimacy to individuals? Where having 20 or so people behind you, in a branding and organisational sense, can help you make contacts you otherwise may not have been game to make and to present yourself in a more professional way?