Daniel Westwood (Family) interview

"As a designer, creative and thinker you must stick to what you know and what you believe in." We talk to the man behind UK design studio Family.

Interview by Julian Hutton

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i. Bell & Smokey – branding, art direction, online presence
ii. Bell & Smokey - spring/summer lookbook
iii. Co.Co – Branding - bar and restaurant
iv. I Hart Mosshart – gold foil print
v. Sample Exhibition – print
vi. Shape-Clock – concept clock – product design

All photographs © Family, 2013

When did Family start?

Family formed in 2006 in the UK.

How many people are currently working with you?

Currently Family is just myself, but with a huge resource of designers, typographers, photographers and stylists.

Can you tell us a little bit about your workspace?

I like to think of the studio workspace as an organised chaos. It’s clean and modern but with a system that probably only I can decipher. As for architecturally, it’s set in a renovated factory/warehouse in Birmingham.

"I once had a letter from a student saying that she 'didn’t much like typography’. My answer to her was simple: ‘Don’t become a graphic designer.’ That is how passionate I feel about typography."

How would you describe the studio’s approach to design?

The approach is, and always has been, to supply a creative solution for our clients’ needs. More than anything else, it needs to be considered. I am a big believer in something not only looking aesthetically pleasing, but it also must solve a problem and intelligently answer the brief.

The role of the graphic designer is constantly changing. Where do you see graphic design heading in the near future?

Graphic design, like most industries, is constantly evolving. I’ve noticed real highs and lows. One minute it’s all print, the next, digital and online. I personally think that as a designer, creative and thinker you must stick to what you know and what you believe in. As for the industry on a whole, I honestly reckon the more bespoke, smaller outfits will stand strong and continue to amaze.

I notice you create your own typefaces. How much time do you devote to this? Do you think it strengthens your understanding of visual communication?

Yes, completely. Typography is the bare bones of this industry; it’s the bricks and mortar. I once had a letter from a student saying that she 'didn’t much like typography’. My answer to her was simple: ‘Don’t become a graphic designer.’ That is how passionate I feel about typography. As a studio, we devote a lot of time to type – it’s our craft.

What has been your most rewarding project so far and why?

For me, it has to be Bell & Smokey, simply because it was the one project where we developed the brand together – studio and client – from the ground up. Everything from art direction to typography, literature, copywriting… it was all a joint effort and worked out so beautifully in the end – a full brand experience. 

"I honestly reckon the more bespoke, smaller outfits will stand strong and continue to amaze."


Some great work comes out of the UK. How do you find the creative community over there?

The creative community within the UK is amazing. It still blows me away daily. Not only do they consistently create thought-provoking and beautiful pieces of work, but also the talent that is emerging from education and of course non-education backgrounds is fantastic. It’s a very exciting time to be within the creative industry.

What's next for Family?

We hope for another strong six years creating work we can be proud of and that stands the test of time.

designedbyfamily.com