Hardhat is a design studio run by NZ and Brit duo Nik Clifford and Jenny Miles. The couple met in late 90’s while both working in London design agencies for big corporate clients.
In 2000, Nik and Jen decided it was time to do it their own way and combined their skills to form Hardhat. Today, the business has two bases, Auckland and London, with plans for a third base in New York.
“Very early on we tried to build the business to be as mobile as it could be. We even bought laptops back when laptops were astronomically expensive. We would spend summers in New York and work for British clients while we were there,” Nik says.
Finding inspiration down under
Around five years ago, Nik and Jen left London for a while to spend more time in New Zealand.
“We were feeling a little jaded about the whole big city life. We spent some time down here and it was great for our creativity. It’s amazing how it drove us to be much more proactive,” Jen says.
For their new Auckland base, Jen and Nik have taken up a month’s part time residency at the Auckland BizDojo, and will then move on to a Global residency.
They’ve now been in New Zealand since November, working for their local clients. Recent jobs include website design work for Avanti Bikes, The Oyster Inn, and Workroom Design. Their re-branding for Coffee Supreme won two Bronze Awards at the Best Design Awards.
In mid-March, the duo will be heading back to London, where they’ve already got some jobs lined up. Their clientele in the UK vary from young entrepreneurs and designers to big brands like Penguin Books UK.
Keeping it fresh by coworking
Nick and Jen are planning to fly over to New York for the summer and set up work there. They are looking to base themselves in a New York coworking space.
“It’s nice crossing paths with people, seeing what they’re doing, and getting feedback on what you’re doing. I like seeing the way people work. Just because you’ve found your process, doesn’t mean it’s always the right way,” Jen says.
“It’s good to change the way you work, and not get stuck in a routine. If you change things up, you get a better perspective on what works for you,” Nik adds.
These world citizens intend to be back in Auckland every year around November for two to three months. If you don’t get a chance to meet them before they fly to London, be sure to be around at the Dojo next summer!