A working studio


Most days I still feel as though I’m faking my way through life, playing at ‘grown ups’, waiting to be caught out, however there are moments where the old me, or rather the younger me, the me before the diagnosis peeks through.

Being involved with the award for Big Society Capital has helped me remember what it felt like to be challenged, to have deadlines, to collaborate with others; I hadn’t realised how much I missed social interaction.

It still feels as though I’m acting, wearing a different persona until I’m confident enough to let the real me show. I find the mask slips every now and then when I’m in the studio, I let myself get inspired and excited, and allow myself to enjoy creativity rather than feel ashamed of it.

This award allowed me to play and be creative without the guilt.

Having a design brief (size, colours, materials etc.) allowed me to work within boundaries, it helped me organise my thoughts and ground myself as well as my ideas.

Taking the ‘work’ home opened up a new routine, rather than my usual ‘retreat to sleep’ I stayed up past the watershed for the first time in a long time and found myself out of the house looking for my dust covered computer, hoping the mice hadn’t found it. It felt like a mini victory when I turned it on and discovered that I hadn’t forgotten how to use it, maybe it meant I hadn’t lost me?

The easy bit was done, 6 concept designs ready within a few hours.

It was much harder to actually show them.

Collaborating meant relinquishing control, but far worse it meant this was real, I wasn’t pretending to design anymore, it wasn’t just a project for uni, it would be a real tangible thing, something that someone wanted and valued.

Fortunately, the designs worked well. Translating the graphic design to a screen print on wood proved to be little more problematic. The colours were seeping into the wood, a stain skulking into the grain rather than shouting well done Big Society Capital winner!

A change in material solved the issue and the printed Perspex added another dimension.



Seeing the design develop from onscreen little doodle to a 3D object, felt wonderful. Something from inside my head had made it out.

There was however, a little voice inside telling me ‘I had just added a token picture to an already amazing award, it was just luck the client liked it’. Was it really good?

I showed it to someone outside the safety of my Designs in Mind bubble, I shared it with my partner. We are finding our balance again, as partners and parents, after a long period of time being carer and patient.

He noticed the difference in me and recognised the sense of achievement I felt. It was one of the few things I had followed through on. I hadn’t given up, or become distracted by another idea, it had a purpose and an end. It also allowed me to show him what we do in the studio, to reiterate that it wasn’t crochet, cakes and conversations, it was real work. We make things people are willing to pay for, I am proudly part of a team to make them, whilst helping find and show the world the real me.

R’s Story

Why commission an award from Design in Minds?

Big Society Capital was set up 5 years ago to develop social investment in the UK – so that social enterprises and charities can access repayable finance to be able to deliver more of their great work. We recently reached a milestone of £1 billion of social investment now in use or available through investments that we have made together with other investors – including pension funds, individuals and foundations. It’s a big sum, but the money is meaningless without the social impact that is being created all over the UK in different ways such as providing better routes out of homelessness to supporting a better start for children in more deprived areas through quality not for profit nurseries. What’s been achieved so far has been made possible by the efforts of many many stakeholders, and above all that of the social enterprises and charities that have used social investment.

But getting this far is also down to our colleagues who collectively bring their investment knowhow and passion for the social sector together to get social investment out there and working. And as we pass this milestone, the team wanted to say a particular thank you to our Chief Investment Officer Jeremy Rogers who has driven so much of this work, and we liked the idea of working with a social enterprise to come up with an informal “award”.

I love what they’ve made – the concrete base representing the foundations from which to grow, with R’s design is great.

Our mission is about improving lives through investment, and it’s lovely to see from R’s story that the process of creating this award has made a difference to at least one life. It’s a powerful reminder that as organisations and individuals, we have chances to transform lives in so many ways, including where we choose to spend and invest our money.

Geetha Rabindrakumar Head of Engagement, Big Society Capital