The act of running and how it helps us with design

Here at Aetha Design we believe in the act of running and the ability to use it as a tool to help our team to focus better, solve design problems and overall feel better. Now, to reassure you, not all our team run everyday. There are a couple of us that run a lot including; Ultras, Marathons, Park Runs, at lunch, to and from work…to put it simply “habitually” and this hasn’t gone unnoticed with the rest of the team.

The knock-on effect of seeing a colleague go on a run and believe it is helping them think clearer and more importantly design better is rubbing off on the whole team. Even Tom, the Founder of Aetha Design and an avid windsurfer & cyclist has had to admit that he has begun running and is enjoying it. He celebrated hitting his PB in the local Park Run recently (Poole Park Run) and said it was like a breakthrough for him mentally.

Image -Tom after his PB at the local Poole Park Run in June 2019

Similar to good design, the act of running is simple & honest: 

Running is a simple process. You put trainers on, you put on some shorts and a top and head out the door. You don’t need anything else, it’s that simple and the more you do it, quite often, the more you enjoy it.

Running is one of the only sports in the world that is reliant on the runner and only the runners ability. You could run a marathon with no trainers and simply a pair of shorts. There is no measure of the weight of your carbon bike, what size sail you are using or your racket technology. You can’t rely on your partner to get you round or carry you across the line – it is purely down to you to run.

Matt Taylor (CEO & Founder of Tracksmith) recently recorded an interview* with Daniel Bletcher. Taylor said, “In apparel, there’s no technology that will make you faster” and with that we believe it is one of the purest activity going.

Following the Dieter Rams Principles of Good Design – ‘Design is honest and as little design as possible.’   Sophie (our Account Manager) will tell you that “running is one of the most honest activities you can do and the best thing is there is no environmental impact for me going on a run from the office or to/from work. When I say honest, I simply mean, no set of trainers or running top is going to make me any faster…I have to train to get faster or to be able to run longer – for me there is nothing more liberating than going on a long and unsupported run.” Sophie continues when asked how it relates to work for her, “working with a team of designers & creatives, you quickly learn that getting them out of the studio can often give them the answer they have been looking for all day, it’s like having a reset button.”

Image – Josh & Dom on a training run in the Purbecks near Old Harry’s Rock

Continuing on Rams’ principle of ‘Good design is as little design as possible’ this is a shared popular opinion for a lot of runners. Those who are on short to medium length runs will say they prefer to have nothing on them (no change/no phone/no pace marker/no keys) as the small things annoy you when you run and so it is easier and often preferred to have as little on you as possible.

So how can running boost creativity amongst our design team:  

Here at Aetha, we often tell clients that we don’t really believe in “design sprints” as they seem counter intuitive to us…sitting down for 3 hours and trying to bash out concepts for a client is everything that goes against good design. We believe that we often think of the “golden nuggets” and have those “breakthrough moments” when we are away from the studio, participating in an activity that is nothing to do with work…quite often on the beach or in the woods running.

We asked Josh (from the design team) why he thinks running helps in terms of creativity. “I think there’s an intrinsic link between core body movements, like running and your creativity. It almost feels like you unlock some extra creative brainpower in your mind, to solve problems, by moving your body to a repetitive rhythm. That, plus fresh air and nature, are the ultimate combination.”

What about the environment:

Lastly but probably most importantly, the environmental impact that running has on our surroundings is zero… in fact having some of the team run to work has a positive impact as they would otherwise be in cars/on trains. We are passionate about sustainable design here at Aetha and often consult with our clients on how their projects can be more sustainable and cradle to cradle design.

Image – Josh on a 20 mile run from Kingston to Poole

Sophie comments on Dorset “Being positioned where we are, we see first hand the environmental impact that bad design has on our seas and beaches just walking or running by the coast. Excessive plastic packaging and inefficient manufacturing is to blame so running in these areas is a constant reminder to our whole team to help our clients keep this meaningful problem at the forefront of their projects and design for better using sustainable design practices.”

We are very lucky to have the Aetha Design studio & workshop based on the South Coast in Poole. Ask the runners of our team and they confidently believe it is one of the best places to run in the UK due to the varied terrain, “you can run roads, beach, woods and also miles and miles of rugged coastal path without getting into a car.” Dorset often hosts endurance and marathon races, Bournemouth Marathon is held every October from Bournemouth and the Coastal Trail Series & Maverick Series also host various races in the area.

So…you’re a designer or an entrepreneur & want to see if it can help you be more creative:

It may not work for everyone but you have nothing to lose by trying. If you are lacking creativity, have a good idea but are stuck on a design problem, we suggest you head out on a run. Leave the headphones & phone behind and enjoy your surroundings with a light run. Try and find some local woods/a park or even better the beach for the full effect. If you are lacking motivation to go on a run or feel you don’t know where to get started, have a look at where your local Park run is held. They are free events starting at 9am every Saturday all around the UK. We recommend them for new runners and experienced runners alike, as there is a huge variety of people taking part weekly from your local community and we know you won’t be able to go watch or take part without being inspired to take the leap and go on a run.

How does running help you with your design process? Got a product idea and want to discuss it over a run then definitely get in touch.

*Listen to the full interview with Matt Taylor (CEO of Tracksmith) here 

Image – Sophie during the Maverick Dorset run in May 2019

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