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Members Interview: Oliver Murphy, working as freelancer in Tokyo (part one)

Recently, we have had a privilege of having Oliver Murphy from London to stay with us at factoria.

We have all enjoyed his stay here and we have decided to interview him to understand more about him.

Q: Why are you in Tokyo and what are you doing? Including what you do and what you specialise in.

Oliver: My name is Oliver Murphy,I am a freelance brand consultant and designer from London and mostly spend my time helping businesses speak to their customers using design. I tend to focus on packaging, website, retail and product briefs and I have worked with different ​brands from ​restaurants to a car brand. It varies week to week. I love it.

​As ​I spend a lot of my time in London working for British and an Australian clients and I wanted to see if I could bring my skills and understanding to Japan and identify the problems and opportunities

for Japanese companies in terms of branding themselves overseas. I have a huge appreciation and respect for Japanese design and culture so I like to think I c​ould​ help give small/medium Japanese brands a global voice, and what better place to start than in London.

Q: Has the jesus look worked out for you in Tokyo?

Oliver: HaHa! I prefer "The Dude" from The Big Labowski to be honest! I seem to attract older men in Izakaya bars who like Neil Young, Nirvana or James Taylor. So yeh I guess you could say I get chatted up.

Q: Seriously, you were here to establish connections to build your freelance business in Japan, how did it go? What worked and what didn't?

I have met some incredible people from all different kinds of companies. Japan is constantly surprising me and I feel every time I come hear I improve my understanding how to design better products/services.

​I also certainly feel it is more difficult to help Japanese companies in Japan. There are thousands of amazing designers here, so working with someone in London just isn't a viable decision for most businesses. However, those same businesses are recognising that Japan has an audience overseas and they want a piece of it. Thats where I have certainly identified opportunities.​

My main contact is within Baycrews. I have consulted on a new restaurant concept for January 2018. We spent time together London and Copenhagen this summer refining the idea and design direction. So this time in Tokyo, it has been great to discuss new ideas and meet new faces from different departments within the company as well as see how the project has been evolving. I have also begun a conversation with BEAMS so will look to pursue opportunities there next year. ​

Q: As a freelancer, is it important for you to have a working space instead of working from where you are staying or in a cafe?

​Absolutely, I spent most of my time last year hopping between cafes in Tokyo and it isn't sustainable. Your rhythm gets disrupted and its good to have a base where you can share ideas with others, interact and socialise with people from different parts of the world. It has been invaluable.

That said I like trying to explore new cafes and locations for my own research as much as I can. I take lots of photos of design details and store them for my future projects. For me its about a balance, I get itchy feet after a while and need to just go explore a cool interior or something to look at HaHa!

Q: You found factoria, what made you decide to work form factoria?

​The space was calm and had people from different industries to mine. I find that important. Not just being around other designers all the time. I guess it's why I enjoy being freelance. You expand your network and meet new people all the time. Its ultimately how you find new work. It was also in a really sweet little neighbourhood that I wanted to explore. Shibuya or Shinjuku everyday would drive me nuts!​

Q: Did factoria live up to your expectations?

​100%! Hiromi and Yuta welcomed me into their family like they would their own home. Helping me find contacts, cooking amazing lunches and even helping me host my own design event.​ I will be back for sure!

The part two of this interview will describe the event Oliver decided to conduct at factoria, a panel discussion based event talking about the challenges faced by brands entering foreign countries and how design could solve these challenges. At the panel discussion, he was able to invite interesting and creative Japanese people with many years of experience in this field.

Please subscribe so you don't miss out on the insightful information on how others are working as freelancers here in Tokyo!

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