Zoe Ikin is a lady beyond her years. In my mind she has always been Zoe Icon, but that’s another story. Anything she touches seems to turn into design gold – you can be sure that any work produced by Ikin will be flawless, beautiful yet provocative and original. Ikin is a co-editor of ‘Studio Magazine’, has spoken at design conferences such as Creative Mornings, Dinz Designers Speak series, Pecha Kucha, Design Assembly and is about the be a judge for the Design Institutes ‘Best Awards. Along with that, there is an array of side projects which include but are not limited to; silver jewellery making, homewares and planning a wedding. Although this sounds like a lot for one person, she is one of the most humble people I have ever met. A huge part of her ethos is to give back to the young New Zealand design industry, which will help define and help shape it into the internal player it deserves to be.
Name: Zoe Ikin
Occupation: Graphic Designer
URLs: http://studiomagazine.co.nz/ and http://www.zoeikin.com/
What did you study and what was your original intended career path?
I did a Bachelor of Design (Graphic) and strangely was one of very few in our year that actually wanted to be a Graphic Designer – not sure where the others were hoping to end up!
Give us a brief background on your career to date:
I graduated in 2007 and stepped into a design role at Studio Alexander. I learnt so much there working with Grant Alexander, one of the grandfathers of the New Zealand design industry. Three years on I was offered a job at Alt Group, where I’ve been ever since. Alt helped me get over to Chicago last year for a 3 month sabbatical at VSA Partners, which was amazing.
When did you decide to start your own magazine and jewellery business?
The jewellery was a weekend hobby which I started back in 6th Form. I learned everything from my Mum who taught jewellery as part of the High School Graphics/Tech curriculum at the time. I spent a few years making pieces for friends and sell the ranges online, but it became something marginally more serious when the Helvetica Brooch Range became stocked in World on High Street, Auckland. I’ve put the breaks on it now though.
You have a full time job that I understand is quite full on, how do you have time for a magazine?
Weekends and evenings! When we’re approaching a new Issue of the Magazine we’ll meet up every Sunday to work on it. I prefer to be busy and I don’t really switch off, so I don’t find it hard to motivate myself to keep the other projects going.
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”right”]It’s about contributing to an industry that’s still young and needs all the participation it can get.[/pullquote] You’ve spoken at several design events, would you say this is critical for getting your name out there?
It’s not so much about getting your name out there, though that may happen. It’s about contributing to an industry that’s still young and needs all the participation it can get. I spent 3 months in Chicago last year and couldn’t believe how many AIGA events were happening and how well attended they were. That’s what a more mature industry looks like. So if someone asks me to contribute to the industry here I’m more than willing.
What are some of the most exciting articles you have researched for your magazine?
Studio Magazine is like a creative passport for us. It’s an excuse to knock on some awesome designer’s door and invite ourselves in for a chat. So that opportunity in itself is exciting. But personal highlights would be Sagmeister & Walsh (Issue 1), HORT (Issue 3) and IDEO Chicago (Issue 4).
So your magazine is user generated content… How do you find people to write?
It’s a submission-based content model. How the studios represent themselves is up to them. Firstly, we write a hit-list of studios we’re interested in or admire. Then we send them an invite and a photography brief. They pretty much always say yes, maybe they have the same attitude as we do about getting involved. They submit the photos of their studio – some just snap off a few iPhone shots, while some tidy everything up and commission a photographer. Then for the interview transcripts we’ll either do an email Q + A, Skype them or interview them in person.
What are some of the unexpected results with having your own side businesses?
We’ve only ever poured money in, and nothing ever seems to come out!
Do you have a goal or end in mind for Studio Magazine or are you taking opportunities as they come?
We’ll just keep making Issues as long as the project interests us. It’s currently a print-on-demand model but I think the fantasy is that by Issue 10 we might have enough readers to warrant printing a beautiful offset colour job.
What advice would you give to someone starting a magazine of their own?
Keep going over the 3 Issue hump!
So you’re going to be a judge for the Best Awards – how did that happen?
Each year the Designer’s Institute asks a few people – practicing designers, academics and a guest from Australia – to spend judge their industry’s work for the annual Awards. I’m sure it’ll be a pretty full-on few days, equally frustrating and inspiring. The other judges are all far more experienced than me so it’s such an honour to be asked.
We’re designing the experience from start to finish – from how people get there, to the food they’re served, and a sequence of reveals throughout the event. We’re doing everything ourselves – I’m growing the flowers and making the cake with my Mum. It’s definitely not about expensive unnecessaries, it’s about giving your guests a memorable day of generous hospitality.
What person dead or alive would you invite to a dinner party and why?
Kate and Wills, I wanna be their friend!
What’s next for Zoe Ikin?
Keeping busy – more weekend furniture projects, another Issue of the mag, exciting projects at Alt Group.