Parallel universes and meowing debit cards: Inside Patrick Stevenson-Keating’s experimental studio
On the podcast this week, we’re joined by founder and creative director of Studio PSK, Patrick Stevenson-Keating. Looking back over his career so far, Patrick explains how his journey evolved from creating parallel universes at university to founding a studio collaborating with glass-blowers and anthropologists. From finding inspiration in Etsy customers disgruntled at losing their ‘cha-ching’ to harnessing the cat as the “spirit animal of the internet”, he talks us through the inventive orbit of PSK’s work.
Founder and Managing Creative Director, Studio PSK (2014–present)
Visiting Lecturer, Royal College of Art (2016)
Product Designer, Novalia (2011–2013)
Associate, Superflux (2012–2013)
BSc Product Design, University of Dundee (2007–2011)
Founded in 2014, and now based out of an old barbershop in Peckham, PSK has helped turn young athletes into scientists for Nike, taken over the entire floor of the Tate Modern Switch House for UNIQLO, and even made the world's first meowing debit card for financial start-up, ANNA Money.
From producing the right creative strategy through to physically bringing concepts to life, it's the studio’s fluid, multifaceted approach that has become a lasting trademark for the practice, as opposed to a signature style or look.
“Understand the value of your work; make sure the things that you think are important come through in it.”
Setting up his own studio was not initially part of the plan. Having grown up in Ireland, Patrick sought out any opportunity to further immerse himself in the design world, later leaving his home town to secure a place on the innovative product design at the University of Dundee. Reflecting on his final year on the course, Patrick describes how a project about parallel universes helped open up doors in industry: “Unsurprisingly, there weren’t many companies out there looking for people to make parallel universe machines for them!” he recounts.
While heading up his own studio requires a mind for business, it also offers Patrick the flexibility to work freelance or in-house for other companies, too, where he’s free to focus on the thing he enjoys the most – the creative work itself.
“Don’t focus on producing work that you think will go viral, or will lead to a particular outcome.”
Graduation saw Patrick relocate to London, where he landed a job at design agency Superflux – all the while trying to work out where exactly his place in industry was. He thinks back to his thoughts at the time, and how a project with University of the Arts London put him on the path of getting his own company off the ground.
Finally, Patrick shares his advice for emerging creatives, the importance of doing work you believe in, and the value of nurturing genuine relationships with people: “Don’t focus on producing work that you think will go viral, or will lead to a particular outcome,” he says. “It’s much more valuable to produce work that you’re really passionate about or that resonates with you. And there will always be an audience for that.”
Interview by Indi Davies
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