Design Pool celebrates 20-years of supporting young creatives 

This year Pentland Brands celebrates the 20th anniversary of Design Pool, our in-house design internship programme. For many young creatives, getting a break in our industry can seem unattainable; Design Pool was set up to create career opportunities and develop the next generation of creatives, helping them land jobs for some of the most well-known brands in the creative industry.  

The industry-recognised programme has helped to unleash the creative potential of 160 young creatives and, twenty years on, it continues to assist up-and-coming creatives to strengthen their portfolio and build their professional network. During the short or long-term paid internships, young creatives grow their skill sets in a fast-paced, challenging, and rewarding real-life industry setting. 

Katie Greenyer, Creative Talent and Network Director at Pentland Brands, shares her insights into the magic of Design Pool and how it has stayed true to its purpose of supporting young creatives.   

Why is helping young creatives so important?   

The creative industry can be notoriously difficult to break into because there’s no set route, like a lawyer or doctor would have. If you can’t see a particular creative career; how do you know if it exists? Design Pool gives you that tangible start, no matter where you decide to go afterwards.  

In the past it used to be difficult to get into because everything – from marketing to applications – was done by post or in person. And these days, the sheer amount of information available can make the process overwhelming.  

How does Design Pool shape creative talent?  

It helps sharpen skills and build industry experience. It also gives young people the chance to explore diverse disciplines such as footwear and textile design, art direction and UX. But even more valuable is that it offers an insight into what makes acclaimed brands tick. With our team’s guidance, young creatives work on projects set by our bestseller brands. A typical day could be designing textile print graphics for Speedo’s newest swimwear, creating animations for footwear brand Kickers, or helping on fan photoshoots for rugby brand Canterbury.  

How successful are our Design Pool alumni?    

Our Design Pool graduates have gone on to find roles in our in-house creative agency, product design teams, and brand teams. They’ve also landed positions in sought-after agencies and companies worldwide, including Adidas, Puma and Doc Martins.  

How does Design Pool reach out to the young creative community?  

We go to student creative events and shows, we sponsor awards that recognise fresh talent, and link with inclusive careers companies and organisations such as Creative Lives In Progress, The People and Artstread. We also link in with colleges and universities to create career pathways for their graduates.

We believe in creating opportunities for the next generation of talent, and work with amazing schools and charities like The National Saturday Club to get kids and young people exploring their creativity. By welcoming up-and-coming talent into our Pentland community, Design Pool helps open entry-level creative opportunities for young people across the UK.  

How has design changed over the last twenty years?   

There used to be physical portfolios, everything was printed or sketched onto a pad, no emails, and your diary was an actual diary. Now we can colour up anything within seconds! This change is significant for sustainability, reducing paper and material usage. However, there’s something to be said about the lost art of picking up the phone to discuss an idea. Design may have changed over the last 20 years, but our commitment to developing young creative talent has stayed the same.  

Across industries, creativity is one of the most in-demand skills for the future workforce. How can emerging talent further develop this skill?  

Creative skills in virtual design, such as AI, will continue to increase in demand. I think science and design could work more closely – when those two become one, the magic will happen. Working on deadline and to budget, and understanding commercial appeal, can’t be forgotten either. I still believe nothing can beat a sketch pad and the ability to get your idea over to someone quickly. And above all, forward-thinking and great ideas will revolutionise the way we see design.  

Interested creatives can send their portfolios to 

Image: Katie Greenyer, pictured third from left.

Image credit: Rachel Connerton