In this series of interviews, we speak with our 2023 cohort about their businesses, their commitment to creating better futures for their industries and what they’re most excited to learn and experience during their time as a Changemaker.
Speaking with us this month is Tom Dorkin, studio manager of Trifle, the UK’s first multidisciplinary studio with work created by artists and designers with learning disabilities.
What was the reason for starting your business and the driving force behind your mission?
Trifle Studio was founded in March 2022, but its starting point goes back considerably further. Trifle was established by visual arts charity Intoart, which has worked tirelessly for more than 23 years to improve accessibility to art for and by people with learning disabilities.
In 2017, we felt we could continue to push this goal by expanding into the world of design. We wanted to take the amazing work created in the studio and experiment with new applications and ways to make it accessible to wider audiences. What began as a small collection of products and prints quickly grew into exciting commissions and client relationships.
Trifle was launched to help focus on what we do as designers and provide a professional platform to work with clients, brands and collaborators. The process of setting up the studio and website was also an opportunity to make our working methods really transparent, so clients know how they can approach us and how we will collaborate with them to realise a brief.
What has been your proudest moment since starting your business?
Some of the proudest moments for the Trifle team have been getting to see the products we’ve created out in the world. Whether it’s someone wearing one of our scarves near our studio in Peckham or spotting our products for sale in the windows of West London, we love to see members of the public taking our work into their hearts.
How do you try to ensure inclusivity is at the heart of everything you do?
In the studio, we lead with a person-centred approach, which means the needs, priorities and interests of our creative team are the foundation of any project. The lived experiences of the designers aren’t something we see as a limitation but a great asset and opportunity for equity and leadership. For example, we’ve collaborated with a number of prestigious brands that have told us how much they’ve learned from our team of designers and been excited by the commissions that have gone on to be commercially successful.
“As a design studio that works across fashion, homeware, interiors and product design, it's always invaluable for us to get a sense of upcoming trends, which can help us plan ahead. So far, we’re also finding the Stylus’ Stat Bank very helpful, as it makes it particularly easy to find relevant facts and figures not only about design and trends but also about accessibility and disability.”
Below: Meet Tom Dorkin, Studio Manager of Trifle Studio.