UK top 50 studios 2017

21. Studio Myerscough

Founded: 1993
Location: London
Number of staff: 1

Studio Myerscough is the one-person studio of Morag Myerscough, who’s spent 2017 working non-stop working on a variety of projects. These included the permanent exhibition Designer Maker User, which she’s been working on for five years; 65m of ‘mood tweets’ for a hospital in Sweden; her first permanent public art project for Battersea Power station; and transforming the cafe at the Bernie Grant Centre in Tottenham.

Another highlight has been completing two large temporary installations with collaborator Luke Morgan: Superhot in Romania and Joy & Peace for the Culture Mile, Smithfield and the Barbican, which ran until mid-October.

22. Wolff Olins 

Founded: 1965
Location: London (plus New York, San Francisco)
Number of staff: 150

It’s been a significant year for Wolff Olins, says chief design officer Chris Moody. “Both in New York and the UK, we’ve seen some of our younger designers flourish. The studios feel vibrant and reinvigorated. It feels like we have a new squad with some new ways of making an impact.”

The biggest challenge of 2018, he feels, will be “small ‘c’ conservatism and risk aversion, as we face uncertain and economically challenging times. We must keep reminding ourselves that seismic political and economic changes make fertile ground for radical and innovative work.”

23. Why Not Associates

Founded: 1987
Location: London
Number of staff: 9

Why Not Associates is celebrating its 30th year. “And as with every previous year, this has been different to all the others,” says partner Andy Altmann. “As ever, the projects we’ve been involved in have been quite diverse, from large museums to books for artists, through to new public art commissions, while the biggest highlight was directing The Telegraph newspaper’s new TV commercial.”

Asked why he thinks WNA was voted onto our list, he suggests it might lie in “the breadth of the projects we get involved in, or our love of experimenting with typography in all its forms.”

24. Build 

Founded: 2001
Location: Leeds
Number of staff: 5

According to creative director Michael C Place, Build had a slow start to the year, “but a good solid middle, and hopefully a strong finish,” he smiles. “We are still getting our head round being back up north, and working with the likes of Google seems like a great validation that location doesn’t matter; doing good work is what it’s all about.”

Other highlights have included winning the winning the pitch to brand The Great Exhibition of the North, against 32 other northern English agencies. “We’re incredibly passionate about representing and promoting design here in the north, so to be given this opportunity is very exciting.”

25. Sawdust 

Founded: 2006
Location: London
Number of staff: 2

2017 has been a time of renewal for two-man studio Sawdust, says founder Rob Gonzalez. “We’ve busied ourselves learning new software, and lots of extra plugins, while continuing to work on commercial briefs. We decided to undertake fewer talks this year so we could focus on both of these.”

The highlight has been working with Converse. “They’re great people and a fantastic company to work for,” says Gonzalez. “We also worked with ManvsMachine this year. It’s always good to work with people who are pushing the bar, and that you have a great deal of respect for.”

26. Studio Moross

Founded: 2012
Location: London
Number of staff: 11

Studio Moross has developed a keen interest in broadcast design, its founder and director Kate Moross reveals. It has also been doing more work internationally, including Japan, and has expanded the team accordingly. It hasn’t all been plain sailing, though. “I fell and broke my hand in January, and my staff were an amazing support to me when I wasn’t able to work,” she explains.

The coming year will see the opening of Studio Moross USA. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of having a studio on the other side of the Atlantic, while keeping London as my home base,” says Moross.

27. Universal Everything

Founded: 2004
Location: Sheffield, London
Number of staff: 5

The last 12 months have been “all over the place” for Universal Everything, says owner and creative director Matt Pyke. “We released a product, OpClock; created a Twitter visualisation for supercomputers; predicted what’s coming next with film series Screens of the Future, and brought AI to life for IBM Watson.”

His highlight was “working with childhood idols Zaha Hadid Architects to launch the Samsung Galaxy S8.” But Brexit has been a downer: “We’ve lost the chance to hire some fantastic European creatives based in the UK because of uncertainty over their future here,” he adds.

28. Turner Duckworth 

Founded: 1992
Location: London (plus San Francisco)
Number of staff: 97

“We’ve seen design become more and more important in the rapidly shifting world of communications, and design excellence more and more valued as a true differentiator,” says joint CEO and CCO David Turner. The company has benefited from these trends. “All three studios are growing, and we’ve moved to a new, bigger studio in London.”

The studio's flattered to be picked by its peers for this list: “It’s important for the same reason that awards are important,” says Turner. “It’s easy to believe your own publicity, but when your peers judge your work, you get an informed, objective opinion.”

29. Ragged Edge 

Founded: 2007
Location: London
Number of staff: 27

“We aim to get better every day, and the past year has been no different,” says Ragged Edge co-founder Max Ottignon. “We’ve continued to push ourselves and become a better branding agency as a result.”

The year’s highlight has been the rebrand of Camden Market. “To see it being so well received by the design community was hugely satisfying,” adds Ottignon. “It felt like a stake in the ground for the whole agency.” Ragged Edge has also been working with a number of startups. “You’ll start to see some of that work as it launches over the next few months,” he adds.

30. dn&co. 

Founded: 2006
Location: London
Number of staff: 20

“It’s incredibly rewarding to be honoured by our peers in this list, says founder Joy Nazzari. “Especially given that a lot of the brands we work with are often not household names or sexy consumer products.”

A highlight of 2017 has been the studio’s work for the V&A’s new Exhibition Road Quarter, followed by the exhibition and book Otl Aicher’s Isy, celebrating the designer’s vision for this small German town. Meanwhile, the team’s quirkiest project was a podcast in White City Place, and commissioning Fathom Architects to build a mobile four-person recording studio.

Next page: Top UK studios 31-40