As the dust slowly clears in Christchurch, some folk's thoughts are starting to turn back to business, and there is quite a predicament facing those in the business of design in the city. All types of businesses are going to take a hit, but it seems inevitable that the city's small– and medium-sized firms, which often depend on hometown work, might struggle to find it. Stephen McCarthy is a graphic designer with such a business. "It's pretty nuts," he says.
"Small design studios [like us] are still reliant on work from people, and with most of our local clients are in a state of limbo. If there are any large studios out there – Auckland, Wellington – who have excess work they can farm out to the likes of us.… that would be awesome. I know a few people in the same same shoes, small studios.… but we've got our laptops and ready to roll. I guess the big thing for us, for long-term recovery, is to keep working. I guess it's asking people to stop and ask the following question: If the price is competitive can I purchase this product or service from Christchurch? If the answer is yes, you will be helping to rebuild Canterbury and save jobs.…. It's kind of as simple as that."
McCarthy sent through the link below of his office's evacuation, a rush from a third-floor building in the CBD "just as a group of bricks landed on my mouse pad".
Some of McCarthy's recent projects include the Busker's Festival, designing posters for a plethora of touring bands, as well the well-received campaign for kerbside recycling. If anything, he says, the recent quake earthquake has reinforced the logic of having clients from out of town. In a strange twist, the recent disaster has also seen him become sought after as a public speaker.
"I'm heading to SXSW (South by SouthWest) in Texas this month – just to hang out and see bands. This morning I got an email to ask if i can be a speaker to talk about having a design studio during a disaster… funny stuff."
Peter Oxley heads up Ratio, another small graphic design studio in Christchurch. Oxley submitted this poster after the September quake (unfortunately it looks like we need a new one now). He says this:
"Myself and my partner Jan escaped unharmed and we had little damage to our house as this time around we were on the opposite side of town to the epicentre. In the first one we took the hit. Our thoughts are with every one affected in the badly hit areas, especially of course the CBD zone which has been destroyed. The extent of the damage is unbelievable and to my mind will take several decades to rebuild.
"All designers are going to suffer greatly from this natural disaster in Christchurch; many city studios are now gone. So work-wise we all need to find new clients and leads outside Christchurch as well as with those businesses left locally. If any North Island agencies can help with work I for one would be keen to get involved in any projects. Its hard to think too clearly right now but in the coming weeks new approaches to work will be needed. If New Zealand business out there can focus in any way on supporting Christchurch design studios during the recovery phase it will help get Christchurch back on its feet. Ratio: for one is ready for work. In the long term I do hope art, design and architecture plays a major role in raising Christchurch to a new level of cultural and design importance not yet seen in New Zealand – almost a blank canvas is now offered to the current generation to create great works."
Those are just two designers' stories from Christchurch. If you'd like to contribute yours then please get in touch.
– Michael Barrett