Goodbye freelancing, hello Rubber!

I’ve recently co-founded Rubber, a product design studio based in rainy London. We’re a small & nimble team, solving business problems for established companies and start-ups.

Read how it all came to be below.

Beginnings

Around 2 years ago I quit my full-time job at Just Eat. I joined when the UX team was still in its infancy and I’ve been there for the ups and downs of scaling internationally. The team grew, from 5 designers in the London office to 30 designers across 3 different cities. When I left, freelancing seemed like a good option until I can figure out what’s next.

I started my first gig at Farfetch, then Burberry, then some other small start-ups. I’ve worked with some extraordinary people and shipped amazing things.

Along the way I’ve also noticed some patterns:

  • I got better at building teams: Every few months I found myself searching for other designers or developers to help us ship things. Building a team for each project became the norm.
  • I enjoyed juggling projects: After a long time of being in-house, I missed having to switch focus every few months. Tackling other industries felt natural, switching platforms felt at home.
  • Freedom made me happy: More than anything, having control over what I did made me happy. I was working with the people I wanted to work with, on projects I believed in, becoming a better designer along the way.

Designing the design studio

That being said, 6 months ago I turned my freelancing gig into a proper design studio. I couldn’t do it alone, so my partner Louana joined as a co-founder. We called it Rubber. Yep, Rubber.

“Most agency processes are based on getting briefed, disappearing and then returning with the solution. Product isn’t built this way.”
— Jon Lax, Teehan+Lax

We believe the current agency model is broken, so the first few weeks were spent on figuring out who we are & who we want to work with. Here’s our Manifesto:

  • Product only: We prefer channelling our energy towards solving real problems for real people. That’s why the type of projects we usually tackle are UX-driven.
  • Partners, not clients: We believe collaboration is the key to deliver great products and we take that to heart. We form one team with our partners, working together from day 1.
  • Constant sharing: Sharing progress early and often helps us move fast and build the right thing. We’re good at design, you’re good at running your business.
  • Questioning everything: We don’t take ideas for granted. Instead, we validate them by asking the right questions at the right time.
  • No bullshit: We tend to avoid time-sheets, long presentations and big bang reveals. Getting things done is our main goal, and we dismiss things that stand in the way of that.

In the meantime, we also shipped a v1 for our website. Same as most of the projects we work on, it will change and adapt along the way. Check it out: www.rubberstudio.co

What’s next?

We tend not to have huge plans or roadmaps. Our goal has always been to help our clients solve problems through design, as we did in the past for Microsoft, Just Eat, Farfetch, Burberry and others. We’ll keep on doing that.

We’re always on the look for partners and collaborators, so feel free to reach out at dan@rubberstudio.co.

Huge thanks to Simon, Anthony, Emir, Paddy, Radu, Paul, Alex and all the other people that helped me along the way with advice, ideas or suggestions. I couldn’t have done it without your support.

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