In the world of design, where creativity meets functionality, Amy Quickfall, Director of Studio Nice One, stands out as a visionary leader with a passion for research and a commitment to delivering meaningful design solutions. With a diverse background in fashion and a keen understanding of market dynamics, Amy has built a reputation for creating authentic brand stories that resonate with both local and international audiences.
With an educational background rooted in Fashion Design and Marketing from the renowned Northumbria School of Design in the UK, Amy has honed her skills and carved a unique path that has led her to this pivotal point in time. During her time at Northumbria, Amy immersed herself in the study of market analysis and trends, while specializing in graphic design. Her exceptional talent and strategic marketing knowledge was duly recognized when she was awarded the distinction of Best Strategic Marketing Plan at Graduate Fashion Week. This pivotal achievement cemented her conviction to pursue a career in design.
Amy’s journey in the design industry took shape during her internship at a menswear design studio. This experience allowed her to refine her skills in creating fashion graphics, surface prints, and a wide variety of menswear designs for esteemed brands. Immersed in the dynamic world of fashion, Amy developed a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of the interplay between aesthetics and functionality. However, the onset of a recession dealt a significant blow to the design studio, leading to its unfortunate closure. Despite this setback, Amy’s passion and determination remained unwavering. It was during this challenging period that she spotted an opportunity to further her career at Burberry, an iconic fashion house renowned for its timeless style and innovative approach.
At Burberry, Amy embraced the opportunity to contribute her talents to the brand’s digital illustration team. This new venture allowed her to explore the realm of digital artistry, adding a fresh layer of expertise to her repertoire. With her creative flair and proficiency in digital illustration, Amy made contributions to the brand’s digital catalogue and this experience improved her eye for detail
As Amy’s design career progressed, she found herself taking on new challenges and seeking fresh opportunities. Her journey eventually led her to a role at River Island, a renowned fashion retailer, where she played a pivotal role in spearheading graphic design for their esteemed menswear ranges. Working in such a dynamic and fast-paced environment allowed Amy to further refine her design skills and gain valuable insights into the ever-evolving fashion industry. However, despite her success at River Island, Amy couldn’t shake off a growing desire for something more. The bustling London lifestyle, although vibrant and exciting, left her yearning for a change and a greater sense of creative autonomy. Amy’s adventurous spirit led her to contemplate the prospect of living and working overseas, eager to explore new cultures and expand her horizons.
This was when fortune smiled upon Amy during Graduate Fashion Week in 2016 when she had a chance encounter with Senior AOD lecturer, Stuart Macleod. Stuart, recognizing Amy’s talent and potential, introduced her to an exciting opportunity that would change the course of her life. He unveiled the possibility of leading the Fashion Design and Marketing course at AOD (Academy of Design) in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The thought of teaching and nurturing emerging talent in a different country intrigued Amy. It presented her with a chance to share her expertise, inspire young designers, and contribute to the growth of the design industry in an entirely new context. The idea of living in Sri Lanka, with its vibrant culture and rich artistic heritage, captivated her imagination, making the decision even more enticing.
Embracing the chance for a fresh start, Amy relocated to Sri Lanka, immersing herself in the vibrant culture and nurturing the creative talents of young designers through her role as Programme Leader. This immersive experience propelled her to establish Studio Nice One in 2018, driven by the immense potential she saw in Sri Lanka’s burgeoning tourism, hospitality, and textile industries, as well as its untapped market for locally produced goods.
Studio Nice One’s portfolio is a testament to the fusion of their tropical surroundings and a playful, hand-rendered design style. Their expertise lies in crafting brands for local produce exports, including tea, coffee, spices, and recently, a cacao project utilizing locally grown beans. Additionally, they collaborate extensively with hospitality venues such as bars, restaurants, and hotels, creating memorable identities that resonate with both local and international audiences. Amy emphasizes the importance of authentic brand storytelling, delving deep into cultural, historical, and geographical research to infuse meaning into each project.
The philosophy and work culture at Studio Nice One mirror Amy’s leadership style, rooted in collaboration and inclusivity. Prioritizing the well-being and satisfaction of her designers, Amy ensures a small team where mentorship and training are personalized for each individual. The studio welcomes ideas from all team members, fostering an environment free from hierarchical constraints. In a country where gender disparity in leadership roles persists, Amy actively works to create an inclusive space, disregarding gender as a criterion for success.
Flexibility is a hallmark of Studio Nice One’s work culture, with remote work options, early Friday finishes, and the choice to observe Poya, a Buddhist holiday. This relaxed yet productive atmosphere fosters creativity and inspiration, resulting in outstanding design outcomes.
Moreover, Amy understands the significance of keeping pace with industry trends and harnessing innovative tools to stay relevant. Studio Nice One actively promotes its work through design blogs and a dynamic social media presence. Recognizing the shift in audience preferences, they focus on sharing behind-the-scenes processes and personal insights to establish a personal connection with potential clients. Additionally, they integrate artificial intelligence tools to streamline internal processes such as enhancing efficiency in script generation for social media content and improving pixel resolution on images for presentations.
Amy has a personal philosophy in design that centers around thorough research and unwavering curiosity. She believes that many designers rely on superficial research and superficial sources like Pinterest, lacking a deep understanding of the target audience, industry trends, and the importance of a brand story in developing a creative concept. At Studio Nice One, Amy and her team prioritize extensive research and design strategy to ensure that their outcomes are purposeful and problem-solving. They choose to work with clients who respect the creative process, allowing them to deliver solutions with meticulous attention to detail and imbued with the unique personality of each brand. They recognize that the initial solution is rarely the best one and therefore allocate time in their project timeline for the creative process, which involves exploration and experimentation.
Giving her opinion in terms of the future outlook for the industry, Amy acknowledges the challenging landscape resulting from the nation’s ongoing economic crisis and recent turbulent years. While their own struggles may have been relatively small compared to the hardships faced by many businesses, Studio Nice One encountered difficulties in day-to-day operations due to power cuts, resulting in no internet and a decline in local clients. Despite these obstacles, Amy remained resilient, drawing inspiration from the words of Dilmah’s CEO, who emphasized the economic benefits of creating new brands, such as contributing to exports and providing employment opportunities throughout the supply chain. The studio’s location in Sri Lanka affords them a competitive advantage, as their overhead costs are lower compared to design studios in the UK or Australia. Consequently, they attract a significant amount of business from international clients, striking a balance between local and international projects to mitigate the impact of sudden changes in the local market. Additionally, Studio Nice One leverages the growing popularity of Sri Lankan culture and produce overseas, catering to a niche client base of Sri Lankans living in the UK, Europe, and Australia who seek to source and sell Sri Lankan products in the international market.
With their unique blend of creativity, expertise, and an unwavering passion for design, Studio Nice One is poised to leave an indelible mark on the industry, elevating Sri Lankan design to new heights and inspiring generations of designers to come. The future is bright, and Studio Nice One is ready to seize every opportunity that comes their way, with the aim of shaping a world where exceptional design and Sri Lankan culture go hand in hand.