Andrew Herzog and Nicky Tesla were coming off the closure of their previous studio, HAWRAF, when they founded New York City-based design studio School in the summer of 2019. The duo had learned a lot from the experience of closing a studio, and they didn’t keep the findings to themselves. In many acts of radical transparency, the founding partners (which also included Carly Ayres and Pedro Sanches) lectured, interviewed, and even shared a public Google Drive of company documentation so that other creatives could learn from their experience.
The guiding principles of HAWRAF—radical transparency and a continued search for knowledge—didn’t die when the studio closed its doors. Herzog and Tesla made the philosophy a key component of their new studio, and in some sense, it became its namesake. “We decided to call the studio School because we want continual learning and experimentation to be foundational components of our process and identity,” said Herzog in an interview with Lecture in Progress.
School is supporting that objective with a series of live streams called Public Works, which takes viewers beyond the reception desk for a day as a fly on the wall in some of the most creative offices around, ranging from museums, to ad agencies, to small studios like its own. According to Herzog, the live stream series will run on a monthly basis, with another episode before the holidays, resuming in the new year. The first episode, at architecture firm Food, launches today. Follow along during morning pinup sessions, project reviews, and sections led by studio director Dong-Ping Wong, who will share models from past projects. (Herzog qualified via email: “The hope is to keep it interesting.* *It’s an experiment.”)
You can watch it all go down live from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. EST. If you can’t make the live stream, not to worry, the episode will be available on the site after it goes through postproduction.
So why would a studio that’s under a year old take on a project that some might more closely attribute to a production company?
“The goal, as with most things we do, is to learn something new,” said Herzog via email. “We’ve been thinking a lot about what it’s like to work as a professional designer/artist/creative human being and the places that support those roles—usually studios, agencies, companies, and/or institutions. Within that, we were thinking about how finding yourself in those places can be difficult.”
Herzog sees the Public Works series as a bridge, democratizing learning opportunities so that industry newcomers can shadow some of the best studios around, no matter where they live. All they need is internet access. Herzog went on, saying he hopes Public Works will “give people the insight and knowledge to continue pursuing or start pursuing their work as professional designer/artist/creative human beings.” And while they started programming the series by reaching out to their connections, they hope that as more episodes are produced, they’ll be able to expand beyond their networks and add entirely new places to the series.
Public Works is also a recognition of process. Often, studios will present a finished brand identity, logo design, or architectural plan, but not the research, brainstorming, false starts, and long hours it took to get there. The live stream series aims to show how the creative sausage is made—from the mundane to the compelling. “Ideally, because of its length and access, the broadcast will provide a more realistic perspective of what life is like working in these places versus the more idealized short-form content we often see,” said Herzog in his interview with Lecture in Progress. “We imagine there will be some points that are quite boring, but at the same time, that’s what it’s really like sometimes . . . all of these processes are of interest and we think can be super insightful.”
The live stream series isn’t pure altruism however—School is hoping to gain insight from the series and its live stream functionality to improve their own work, too. Herzog expressed an interest in testing “what can be done with it outside of what we typically see it used for,” saying, “We plan to utilize live streaming in more projects down the road as a way to disseminate information. We see it as a useful technology to have a good grasp of moving forward.”
I think we can all acknowledge that sometimes the design process is ambiguous. The good news is that you don’t have to stumble through it alone—now you can see how other creatives handle the process, too, from that first cup of coffee in the morning till the laptop closes at night. You might think of the full-day live stream experience like take your child to work day. But now you’re an adult, and you can just live-stream it from the comfort of your desk.