This manifesto is written from the experiences we have shared at the studio while building our portfolio of work. Both are inseparable from each other, and we value both these aspects of our studio immensely.
The Value of Friendship
Quicksand completes a decade of practice in 2015; so far based out of New Delhi and Bangalore in India. During this time, the studio has perceptibly transformed from a small creative agency to one of the country's leading innovation and strategy practices. However, the principles on which Quicksand operates are still rooted in the simple pleasures of co-hosting an independent practice with friends. There are expectations of autonomy, openness and camaraderie from team members, while there is also empathy and respect for the independence of spirit that drives us as creative individuals.
Making sense of chaos
Quicksand pushes the exploration, understanding and application of design-led thinking as a mediator for chaos. Facilitating sense-making through design strategies is increasingly what the studio identifies itself with - a broad definition that fuses boundaries between contexts. Whether it's creating experimental toilet infrastructure in urban slums, proposing the future of household products, inspiring next generation communication devices, developing a technology platform for rural schools or even producing our own video game franchise, Quicksand has pioneered a case for the value of design thinking in the Indian subcontinent.
People at the centre
Robustness of creative work within such complex briefs can only arise from a systemic world view that places human experiences at the centre of all processes. There is a movement towards higher empathy in everyone at Quicksand, and we have built this robustness over a multitude of projects - in often unfamiliar contexts. There is a focus on learning and discovering the softer, people-centric aspects of the contexts we design for, as this is the fountainhead of inspiration for our work.
An Open Studio
If we assign the word 'open studio' to mean a collaborative, free-spirited and imaginative collective of professionals, it would be fair to say that Quicksand is constantly looking for more ways to open itself up. A deep dive into the projects Quicksand has worked on reveals a high degree of flexibility, variation and depth of content and approaches. This can be attributed to the central role that 'independence' plays in the daily life of Quicksand. The experience of being at the studio, the constant expectations of autonomy, the collaborative decision making process and an atmosphere that celebrates personal expression - these are all facets of an open studio that can only be enjoyed with an independent spirit.
Act Flat. Think Tall.
Quicksand embraces a flat structure, especially in it's everyday practice. Of course there are seniors, juniors and interns, but what you won't find are molehills of vanity and caverns of despair. Quicksand could sometimes be a confusing place to be at, especially for those coming from more traditional institutions or organizations. But our fundamental belief in a space that belongs to everyone at the studio is manifested in how we work together, play together and realize fascinating dreams together. Here, respect is earned not through rank, seniority or success, but through the hard journeys of process and failure.
Get Your Act Together
Quicksand might not be a great fit for everyone. This is an environment that continues to challenge our individual intellects and assumptions about ourselves. We are a small team that does a lot. We are a small team because it is tough to find people who have the breadth and depth of competencies, intellect and emotions that our work requires. Being at Quicksand also means leaving your credentials at the door and striving to humbly prove yourself in domains you might know nothing about. Being able to improvise and think on your feet, is essential to the everyday practice of the studio.
If it were not apparent by now, we should spell out that we prefer lifelong learners to credential slinging prodigies. Each one us is on several learning tracks at most times, and our projects are structured as much to please users and clients, as they are to nurture our own education. A clear history of self directed learning in projects or otherwise, is essential to anyone who strives to be a part of the studio.
Be Local. Feel Global.
Through its work, Quicksand articulates the unique opportunities and challenges that are a part of attempting to explore an independent and local mandate for design thinking and strategy in south Asia today. An incredibly fast moving and layered environment coupled with the complexities of scale and economics places unique demands on sense-makers in India. How this local view interacts with the global economy and consciousness could often be conflicting, and poses serious questions to our team on most projects and is something we do not take lightly.
Give it a shot
We might come across as being a tad bit too serious or uppity in this reading. But if you think we seem like an interesting place to check out, then do write to us. We are constantly seeking out meaningful partners, clients, friends and teammates.