My week at JungleFish

Walking up the concrete steps to be greeted by the bright orange and white sign plastered on the door, JungleFish was my home for the next week. I had always been interested in the world of design, whether it be branding, advertising or media, I tend to have the urge to be creative, using whatever outlet I can get my hands on. When I was accepted to come to JungleFish for my work experience week, I had no idea what to expect. You see, I had always had a passion for design but never had an area to apply my thoughts and to learn more about what design actually entails. This is why JungleFish was the perfect location for a week of integrated learning and hopefully, the chance to influence my decisions on whether design is exactly the field I want to enter.

I was handed an agreement sheet which Mr. Obermeier had written out for me that highlighted what I would be doing while at the company as well as my various objectives that I was very happy to fulfill. To begin, I was instructed to interview each member of staff about their jobs, what they studied, benefits, difficulties, any question that I had about their field, I could ask. This made me particularly happy as this meant I could learn about each aspect to the job, not just the industry in its entirety.

While artfully dodging those who had a lot of work to do, I was able to interview several people, each with incredibly interesting stories to tell. Amongst the graphic designers, product designers and even Mr. Fries, I was given some of the most profound explanations about their field and about the industry around them. The following statements came out of the interviews, all providing me with powerful insights into their world.

  • “You are adding beauty to this world”
  • “Working with likeminded individuals means that you can inspire each other”
  • “Different cultures think differently, approach problems differently and create solutions differently. Which means often, you learn how to solve problems more efficiently rather than just observing and doing it your own way.”
  • “We adapt to different ways of thinking”

All of these quotes add meaning behind the work that each individual does and adds enfaces on what drives their passions. I spent hours recording and then transcribing the most important points into my notebook, which is now brimming with words and conversations. In all honesty, I had never fully understood what these jobs meant, I knew there were the Creatives, the technical minds, the managers but for each person to have an incredible story to tell, was something I was not expecting.

After the interviews, I spent my time reading back through my notes and highlighting points that gave me an idea of each field. Once these were added up, it shed light on the design industry as a whole. At JungleFish, the word “design” covers a broad spectrum of opportunities. It spans from market research to understanding the market in which the client is based as well as searching for opportunities for innovation. All of these aspects result in creative concepts and results all fitting to the needs of the client. Sitting with the team, quietly observing the dynamics of a morning meeting was particularly fascinating to me as the fast paced dynamic moved the conversation in very contrasting directions. The team may have started out talking about a poster for a famous dance theatre and then in a blink of an eye, be on the subject of sewage treatment. I think everything is settled but no, now the subject has turned to vacuum cleaners. This chain goes on, office chairs, kitchen appliances and a retail store opening next week. There is never a dull moment while sitting in on meetings, all without utter confusion between languages.

I was intrigued to find that there is very little miscommunication at JungleFish. After living in Nanjing for three years, I had become accustomed to speaking slowly, as well as being prepared for confusion, but not here. With the mix of cultural backgrounds and languages, the group is extremely coherent. The working language is English, yet no one is a native English speaker. To watch discussions is something of captivating.

A design team, as in JungleFish, has a stable process. This process, from beginning to end, involves mostly all of its team, enabling each side, whether it be graphic designers, information designers or product designers to have a say and to get involved in the project. This allows for different opinions to be heard and in many cases, this increases the quality of the finished product as not one personal is uniquely specialized and set in one particular area. In JungleFish’s case, when working with Chinese clients, creating branding opportunities as well as concepts for the products, the team works together rather than communicating individually. With this system set in place, the team can work together to provide the client with a new way of thinking in addition to the knowledge that everyone understands what is going on and what is planning to be done. By not segregating each member of the team, it allows for unanimous decisions to be made and for the client to be given the best outcome possible.

My week is whiled away with observations and generally taking in the atmosphere around me. The paneled walls, filled with concepts and sketches, turn the room into a place of collaboration. If one wanders along the walls, illustrations bring ideas to life and this, in essence is what evokes my interest in this profession. Being able to provoke audiences, build businesses and create emotional connections, all through the art of design. JungleFish has shown me this, even in a very small company; you have the ability to create pieces of influential design in all efforts to give Chinese brands the potential for success.

JungleFish, in its entirety, has shown me how, with dedicated team members, collaboration and a simple design process can work together to create concepts for their clients. A week at JungleFish, to put it simply, is an inspiration in itself.

I am grateful that I had this opportunity.