What is innovation design? Miki Chiu fills us in on her role as a creative consultant for Fluxx
When Miki Chiu graduated from the design course at Goldsmiths, she didn’t quite know what specific role she would later end up in. What she did know was that she didn’t want to be just a graphic or web designer – but hoped to stretch her creative muscles and do a bit of everything. Eventually, after job-hunting for what felt like an eternity, Miki was offered a job at product and service innovation company, Fluxx. A year on, Miki talks to us about the world of innovation design, discusses the difficulties of asking for what you want as a junior, and the power behind being proactive.
Junior Creative Consultant, Fluxx (2019–present)
Events Coordinator, Carousel Spaces (2019–2019)
Experiences Assistant, Carousel Spaces (2018–2019)
BA Design, Goldsmiths, University of London (2016–2019)
What I do
How would you describe what you do?
I’m one of the creative consultants at product and service innovation company, Fluxx. I’m lucky in that I get to work on both the creative and the strategic. From graphic design to consulting, both parts of my job require a level of creative thinking.
What’s the best thing about your job at Fluxx?
It has to be said that the people are amazing. Another perk of the job is how much variety there is. For me, going into a straight graphic design or web design job would somewhat tire me after a while. However, at Fluxx, I’m always doing something different with innovative design. I’ve worked with companies ranging from big insurers, to pet care brands and a government authority. It’s always keeping me on my toes.
As a designer, it’s nice to pull on so many different aspects of your craft. It won’t always be graphic design or video work, for example – sometimes it might be a completely different medium, like designing an exhibition. The ideation side of things is great, and I love brainstorming and finessing ideas with the team.
How would you define innovation design and how did you discover it?
I’d define innovation design as creating something new (that works!) in an uncertain environment where results aren’t guaranteed. Things may work brilliantly or flop totally, but it’s about learning, testing, and building new products and services.
I discovered innovation design when I was at an event which was set up by Salt Recruitment and Karmarama called Landing Your Dream Gig. After being told a couple of times that I had a really interesting and diverse portfolio, this one guy at the event looked through my portfolio, and asked me: “Have you ever heard of innovation design? It aligns with the stuff in your portfolio. I think you’d like it.”
What do you like about working in this area, and what skills are required to work in innovation design?
I love the variety that comes with this job. It suits a multi-disciplinary designer – which I am. I’m always happy to get involved in anything – from high-level creative concepts scrawled on post-its to implementing last-minute practical details on Adobe Illustrator. I’d say if you’re the kind of person who’s happy to muck in then this could be the field for you.
“This guy looked through my portfolio and asked: ‘Have you ever heard of innovation design? I think you’d like it.’”
What recent Fluxx project are you most proud of?
I don’t think I can reveal anything about the client yet, but it was work that we did in Abu Dhabi right on the cusp of the Covid pandemic outbreak. The project centres around childhood in Abu Dhabi.
It was a great campaign to work on as we got to see it from beginning to end, which we don’t necessarily always get to see. One thing we do at Fluxx is create lots of little quick experiments and go out into the world to test them on real people. We learn from that and develop and evolve whatever we’re testing. One thing that I got to do in Abu Dhabi involved freelancing with families and young kids to see how they would respond to temporarily exchanging their phones for family games we provided. I got to design the I got to design the ‘fake’ brand for this, whilst also working on strategy and consulting.
How I got here
What was life like after graduating?
Job hunting is always tough. Especially as a fresh-faced grad, you so desperately want to find the perfect job (and then, just any job). I was lucky to have full-time event sales work to fall back on for a steady income, so that was one pressure off – but it meant I’d spend my bus rides to work scrolling through Glassdoor, lunch breaks on The Dots, evenings in bed on LinkedIn... You get the idea.
I created a thorough job hunting spreadsheet that listed the number of jobs I applied for. You can check it out here. Did I mention job hunting was tough?
What area of design did you imagine you’d go into when you were graduating?
I had no idea! That was one of the best – but also scariest – things about graduating from a degree that is just called ‘design.’ I had a background in a bit of everything – from graphic design, to interaction design, and even object-oriented coding for games, and didn’t particularly like the idea of being stuck in one discipline i.e. a graphic or digital designer. But that was all I was coming across during my job-hunt.
What would you say has been your biggest challenge in the industry so far?
A challenge that I’ve always struggled with is being proactive and getting the help and support I need. Luckily at Fluxx, I have a great support system around me, and I’m a part of a mentee initiative, which also helps. I’m learning that if you need something, then ask for it. If you don’t speak up, you won’t progress at the rate you want to be progressing. I’m working on being more assertive and proactive.
In terms of finding information, advice, or inspiration, has there been a resource that you’ve found particularly helpful?
I’ve been using this new thing called Lunch Club – It’s a virtual one-to-one networking platform, and they match you up with someone based on your interests. You’ll then proceed to have weekly video calls, and I’ve found it helpful so far!
If someone was interested in moving into innovation design, what advice would you give them?
Find the people who work within it on a day-to-day basis, and talk to them! There are a tonne of great creative free virtual events now. People are looking and open to meeting emerging designers and voices. Networking and reaching out to others has been invaluable for me.
Another important habit to keep in check is asking for things you need. It’s something that just needs to be practised, especially amongst juniors. It’s good to start small and start to work your way up. Even if it's like small things in daily life or in your current workplace.
Interview by Indi Davies
Introduction by Siham Ali
Mention Miki Chiu