Paloma Strelitz co-founded Assemble — the Turner Prize winning design studio focused on championing inclusive civic, cultural, and economic growth.

From Mayor of London’s Design Advocate to Harvard Loeb Fellow, and collaborations that include the Design Museum, Wellcome Trust, and Pentagram, her work spans the worlds of cities, culture, and technology. She is a frequent international speaker, advocating for the creative industries and inclusive development.

Here, Paloma Strelitz, explains why she joined Patch as Head of Product and Creative Director.

Why I joined Patch

We are entering a pivotal period for inclusive transformation, with an urgent collective imperative to rethink, redesign, and act for a more equitable world.

Throughout my projects with Assemble, I experienced the empowerment that new tools and venues can bring to individuals and communities, widening possibilities, and enabling more people to tell their own stories.

Then last year, as a Loeb Fellow at Harvard, seeking empowering solutions to challenging social issues, I focussed on the positive scope of technology for societal transformation. A key question I explored was how to give more people greater agency to shape their worlds.

So, when I first read Freddie’s vision for Patch, I was struck by the power of the proposition — it felt both intuitive and radical. It opens an exciting prospect to apply my experience at this critical moment to forge constructive change. At its core, Patch is about building the workplace as it should be — innovatively, accessibly, and sustainably. And it also does much more — by way of inclusive development and democratising access to knowledge.

Here I explore how the vision for Patch aligns so well with my values and interests, and open the conversation on what better balance means to you.

Towards better balance

Covid’s disruption has exposed many inequalities and challenged us all to rethink the status quo and create a world more reflective of our needs, dreams, and ideas.

At an individual level, the impromptu global home working experiment revealed many tangible benefits: more time with self and family, more local engagement, flexibility for better balance. Of course, these weigh against the negatives of working entirely from home: isolation and loneliness, chaotic blurring of personal and professional lives, stymied productivity. While the challenges encountered by consistent working from home vary with household set up, life stage, and other circumstances, the dulling effect of feeling ‘cut off’ when working at home has been widely experienced.

The Patch vision is pluralistic. We’re confident in its provision for a future of work that counters the negatives of home working while building on the positives we felt the past year. Patch’s offer — ‘Work Near Home’ — enables a rich and balanced work-life: stimulating space and resources to work close to home, an environment for both concentrated and collaborative working, and more time and energy in local communities, with your family and friends.

A vision for inclusive growth

By creating high-quality local infrastructure, Patch aims to make the world of work more accessible and inclusive — to everyone. What starts at the personal and local scale is part of a bigger vision of positive externalities. The Patch vision is to support opportunity across the UK — by investing in towns and cities outside central London, widening access to jobs in the knowledge economy, and creating opportunities to access new skills. This involves dynamic Patch spaces on local high streets, combining well-designed workspace with tech, digital and educational resources for broader public enjoyment and use.

From commuting to community

Working closer to home generates deeper local connections and a greater stake in our local communities, and I’m attracted to the ambition for Patch as a launchpad for local enterprise and a center of civic activity. On weekdays, Patch will mostly support local people working across a range of sectors and industries — civil servants to engineers, designers to analysts — becoming a catalyst for new collaborations. After hours and on weekends, Patch will be a space for education and wider public events.

Covid has intensified pressures on local UK high streets which have long suffered from the lack of custom, first impacted by out-of-town shopping centres, then exacerbated by the sharp rise of e-commerce. With my heightened perspective on this through my role as a Mayoral Design Advocate on the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Initiative, I’m keenly conscious that this is a critical moment to re-imagine and re-invigorate local high streets, and Patch has powerful scope to contribute. Our dynamic, well-equipped local workplaces will offer compelling professional space to work locally, avoiding wasteful commutes, and contributing to resilient and sustainable local communities.

The power of near — and far

Of course, we recognise the buzz and energy of working in a city — the chance encounters, the easy access to cultural events, the frequent exposure to new ideas. By forging local and national partnerships to provide meaningful opportunities for depth and range of experience, we are building these valuable features into Patch’s DNA. One way we’re delivering this is with the Patch Academy. Partnering with organisations like Code First Girls and The Raspberry Pi Foundation, we’re creating accessible local spaces to explore, develop digital and tech skills, and build capacity.

The future is here now

The last year has demonstrated our ability to adapt quickly under pressure. Now is the time to look ahead — to redesign our future, with purposeful intent. Through Patch, I’m excited to create and offer meaningful infrastructure to support a better life balance, and to leverage new intersections of physical and digital experiences to connect local participation to global opportunities.

My impetus to join Patch is co-creating a more facilitative, more equitable ecosystem. If that syncs with your vision, it will be great to welcome you on board.