3 Ways to Build a Strong Design Team

Whether it’s time to grow or you already have a team you trust, how do you create strong group dynamics? We asked three designers—Stephanie Brown, Anna Booth and Claire Ownby—to share their team building secrets.

Stephanie BrownCourtesy of Stephanie Brown Inc.

Don’t touch, don’t touch

“We like to focus on inclusion where everyone on the team can have their hands on every project in one way or another, where they can feel involved in the business. Beyond that, we try to keep things light even though we work hard. It’s really important that we sometimes distract ourselves from work, whether it’s going to events, going out for lunch, it’s about doing things that allow us to have a good time together. —Stephanie Brown, Stephanie Brown Inc., Vancouver

3 Ways to Build a Strong Design Team

Anna BoothCourtesy of Anna Booth Interiors

person to person

“What we do starts and ends with people. Each position within our firm is different and each person brings a unique skill set, way of communicating and professional goals. While some roles are customer-facing, others are behind the scenes, and no role is more valuable than another. The Enneagram has been an incredible resource for understanding each individual and how their internal dynamics manifest in an external environment. By learning from each other, we learn what makes [our staff] feel motivated, how they communicate naturally, how they gain a sense of belonging, etc. [so the team can] learn. Everyone is included in the trips, not just those in design roles. I want my project manager to understand how a piece of furniture is made, not just to coordinate the logistics…[I want them to] feel part of the design orchestration process. When the upholstery arrives damaged to our recipient, if he or she already knows the language of furniture making and has a relationship with our suppliers, they feel empowered to resolve the situation. —Anna Booth, Anna Booth Interiors, Atlanta

3 Ways to Build a Strong Design Team

Claire OwnbyCourtesy of Ownby Design


“We are incredibly fortunate to have a strong sense of teamwork within our company, which is why we put everyone’s needs first when it comes to creating a harmonious work environment. We do this by organizing monthly group outings for birthdays, boat trips on a nearby lake or a casual sporting event. Being able to spend time together outside of the office allows us all to get to know each other more intimately and feel more connected. We also try to allow our teammates to help set expectations for the group. In our experience, people work best together when they feel the person next to them is carrying their weight, and they know they can count on them when they need help. —Claire Ownby, Ownby Design, Scottsdale, Arizona

Homepage image: An indoor-outdoor home office designed by Stephanie Brown | Courtesy of Stephanie Brown Inc.

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