collaborative design practices / the micro agency model

It is a growing trend that Function/Form is a part of and one that it embraces. In both North America and Europe it has become common place for small studios (1-3 peoples) and solo practitioners to bind together to establish a larger commercial offering without losing their agility and ownership. Here in Australia there is also a move towards smaller more specialist collectives coming together to collaborate on project by project basis. Fueled by more and more senior level designers, developers, writers and strategists going out on their own to put their ideas to market – the connectivity of the modern digital world enables such solo practitioners around the world to work as one.

So what if any are the benefits of this working model and why should you consider engaging a micro agency for your next project?

For our own part the motivation behind Function/Form adopting this model was the very nature of our parts – we are a number of creatives in different fields of expertise, in a number of different countries. On the whole we are solo practitioners, we collaborate on projects, but also pursue solo interests and projects outside of the practice. This contrast of solo and joint pursuits is very much the essence of the agenda for us and something we believe to be key in pushing the creative boundaries. It brings a freshness and energy that would be lost were we to all set up a traditional agency model, move into one big studio, hire some account managers and slip into the old routine.

We see ourselves as complimentary parts of an organic whole but it is key to maintain a structure that actively encourages our individual differences as much as our complimentary visions – this is very much the essence around which collaboration thrives.

This is stretched further when actively seeking out other like minded collectives or the micro agencies to work with. It’s a network but not in the large global advertising agency sense. It’s scalability and agility in a market place what no longer has such defined notions of how large a budget or an execution to market should be. And so the power of the collective lies in it’s readiness to adapt, it isn’t anyone thing and by not being bound by a traditional structure it thrives on change and fresh challenges – in today’s every changing markets this makes it a serious contender.

Not to be approached by clients alone – increasingly smaller collectives are being hired by large traditional agencies to provide core expertise at all levels of the creative process on large corporate accounts. In North America and Europe this is seen to have great PR leverage for the launch of a campaign to market – hires to create the new online campaign for . In short the micro agency is seen in the same was as the photographer on the illustrator is an Art Director, a resource you hire in towards the creation of the big idea. Everyone wins: the micro agency get to work on a large international brand with a big budget, the large ad agency delivers a far fresher braver idea that it’s own structure would have allowed and the large international client gets a creative campaign fashioned with more passion and energy that the large ad agency would have delivered but with the safe knowledge that they have resources to deliver a campaign of this scale to market successfully.

We believe this is just the beginning for the collective / micro agency approach and that it marks what are becoming increasingly exciting times for the creative industry. If you are looking for new ideas, energy and a freshness of approach it might be time you looked to a collaborative design practice.

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