Over at Subtraction, Khoi Vinh (Design Director of NYTimes.com) has a post on Great Numbers, Not So Great Design. His basic point is that bigger design studios are not better, and that smaller studios tend to be your best bet for good design. As a very small design shop here (two people!) I must of course agree. If my wife and I can’t communicate and get in the flow with you, we have problems larger than mere miscommunication! Here’s the leadin to Khoi’s article/rant, which I suggest you go read:
Let me admit a real prejudice that I have, and maybe you can try to convince me that I’m wrong: it’s my belief that you just can’t get great design out of a design agency with a staff larger than a dozen or two. Design doesn’t scale well, in my opinion, or at least it doesn’t do so easily.
This craft, and whatever pretensions to art it can pull off, rests so much on the efficiency of transferring ideas from the brain to the hand. This means that in its ideal form, it works best when practiced by a single person. The perfect design staff is a single designer who can conceive of and execute an idea from start to finish — a straight shot from the right brain to the wrist — maintaining the same coherent creative vision throughout.
Of course, as an economic matter, this is impractical. For design to work as a business, it almost always has to scale to some degree. The smaller the scale, though, the more efficient the practice of design; transmitting ideas among a small number of people is much more effective than transmitting them among a large number.