During the early years at Blakstad Design Consultants, the studio evolved organically. Guidelines were based on trust, passion and gut instinct. As a company built in and of Ibiza, it sufficed to embrace the general mood of the island at the time, which was more fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants than plan for empire building. At the heart of it, our principles were common sense and subconsciously shared among the team but as we grew in scope, it became increasingly obvious that to truly grow one must know oneself. And to know oneself, it is necessary to have clearly defined principles to live and work by. We are still guided by trust, passion and instinct, it’s just that these days we know how to put it into words.
The studio is busier than it has ever been and it’s easy to become so busy with the workload that you forget to take a moment to check-in and make sure you are on the path you planned for. This is why we periodically ask ourselves as a business and as a team: Who are we? What do we stand for? Where are we going? How are we going to get there? The baseline for this self-reflection is our fundamental principles.
Architecture requires precise collaboration. Every element of the process feeds into the next and a fissure in the chain will lead to frustration, delays and unease. By checking in with the team regularly regarding their emotional and physical wellbeing, we are well placed when the inevitable roadblocks appear. Together we manage the stress and setbacks and together we find the appropriate solutions. At Blakstad, our team is everything.
Any creative pursuit that is reliant on market, environmental and governmental variations necessitates a level of flexibility. Anyone who has lived and worked in Ibiza will know that the island runs to the beat of its own drum. It helps to approach the inner workings of Ibiza with a philosophical outlook. Along with that comes the need for creative flexibility. Of course, we plan for all eventualities but occasionally some slip through the cracks. Instead of letting those moments stymie progress, we attend to them with flexibility of mind, creativity and demeanour. When a problem is approached with flexible thinking, it is much easier to solve.
As the Blakstad team has grown so has the need to install systems that save time and energy. The interacting elements that make up Blakstad Design Consultants allow the team to stay focused and purposeful, helping to avoid bottlenecks. Admittedly, system building within the studio has been challenging as over the years as we moved away from a more organic style to a more efficient one. Systems require frequent auditing and updating. Technology has played a huge role in helping us to refine our systems and while we currently find ourselves in a well-tuned position, there are always tweaks to be made along the way.
There are three levels of responsibility that we adhere to. Firstly, we are responsible for our clients. The relationship between client and designer is essential to reaching our collective goals. While the relationship often evolves into friendship, the basis is built on responsibility, respect and responsiveness. Secondly, we are responsible to our team to ensure their working environment is comfortable, productive and suitably challenging. Finally, we are responsible for our creative vision and communicate it within a framework of transparency and collaboration.
This word is full of possibilities and for the studio has become a cornerstone on which to pivot all our work. But what does that mean? At Blakstad, the concept of sustainability is connected to protection. We stand accountable for how we approach a plot, renovation or new build. Protecting the natural zones of a project is an essential part of our philosophy. Reducing the number of materials we ship and use, and recycling wherever possible has become a standard part of our process. The local and global environment and future generations are relying on us to get this right.
Architecture is a vast topic with offshoots into industrial design, fashion, interiors, furniture making, product design, art and so on. There is an infinite amount to know and the learning never ends. The Blakstad team are a naturally curious bunch so their continuing education manifests in multiple ways. Books and magazines abound in the office as one of the principal methods of staying up-to-date, in addition to courses when they are available. Of course, the internet is a huge part of our design process,s delivering endless inspiration. One of the most unrecognised resources for new information comes from our clients as well as each other.
Not something you normally see in a business guru’s book, but laughter is the glue that binds us. Many of our team have been with us for years, some of them decades and the layers of collective experience has built a comical shorthand. In the end, if you can’t laugh at yourself and with others, what do you have?
Our basic principles stand firm and provide us with a philosophical structure from which we can explore further possibilities and opportunities. Each element is connected in a web that supports our daily and long-term goals. Importantly, this list is continuously questioned and edited as our business grows into new realms. Adaptability is key to growth but growth itself is not the end goal. We aim not for empires but for harmony and authenticity, and to have a lot of fun along the way.