10 new design agencies to watch in 2013

What a different 12 months make. These design agencies were all founded in 2012, and are already making a big splash in the industry. All 10 were shortlisted for the .net Awards 2013 - the international awards event organised by our sister title, .net magazine. And while you may not have heard of them yet - but we're certain you'll be seeing a lot more of them in the years to come...


SMACK has gained some big name clients in a short space of time

After working out of coffee shops and living rooms for the first few months, SMACK founders Sel-Vin Kuik and Lubna Keawpanna have expanded to a team of seven, and gained clients such as Aston Martin, TLQ, Royal Caribbean International and OMD.

One of their initial commissions was a Facebook app for comedy movie Goon, which allowed users to upload their photos and undergo a Goon makeover complete with bruises and black-eyes.

02. We Make Awesome Sh.it

The potty mouthed agency has worked with the cream of the global music industry

Founded by Syd Lawrence and Tom Gibby, five-strong agency We Make Awesome Sh.it had a fun 2012 with a range of cool social/music projects. They launched the new Calvin Harris album, '18 months', by giving it away for free via an app - but with a twist (you had to be dancing to listen to the music).

They also worked with 23 other global artists, including Kylie Minogue, Blur, Ed Sheeran, Plan B, Rolling Stones, and Swedish House Mafia. We're more than a little jealous.

03. In the Loop

In The Loop's portfolio site is simply terrific

Based in Canada and Switzerland, In The Loop won an FWA award for its first portfolio website and things have gone uphill from there, with clients including Akufen, Departement, Emakina, Fidel Studios, Swiss Art Gate, Golf Club of Gonville, Audemars Piguet, and Hugo Boss. Their latest project is a new web series called Emilie, for which they're handling the Flash development.

04. SuperFriendly

Dan Mall's team aim to fight evil with good design

After many years working at, for, and with a number of agencies, well-known designer Dan Mall decided to go it alone and found his own company. The four-strong team - plus a network of 'SuperFriends' - organises around the motto: "defeating apathy and the forces of evil" and clients include AOL, Google, TimeInc, WHYY, and 1-800-Contacts.

05. Pixeldot Creative

Pixeldot Creative's team combines experience in print and digital branding

Based in the British town of Brighton, Pixeldot Creative's mantra is 'Beauty with Brains'. Founded by two brand designers, Luke Taylor and Janusz Rust, the agency now has four members, who are evenly split between print and digital backgrounds. Clients include The Body Shop, Hibu, Yell.com, Stagecoach, EMC, RSPCA, and Monex Europe.

06. Maido

British TV presenter Davina McCall loved working with Maido

Maido's first year has surpassed even their own expectations. Twitter considered their LG Ticket Hunter Application a 'Best in Class' example, they won a Gold Internationalist Award for their Spider-Man app, and they produced the first YouTube gadget with open-graph actions on behalf of Homebase.

With a team size of 13, the London agency's clients include Virgin, Sony Pictures, Volvo, LG, Land Rover, Three, Waitrose, New Look, Impulse, Kleenex, and Mazda.

07. Brian Hoff

Notable designer Brian Hoff set up his own agency in 2011

Working as a freelancer since 2008, ex-Apple trainer and notable New York designer Brian Hoff set up his own agency last year and is most proud of its marketing site and product launch for WhippleHill, which went live in December. Clients so far include Outbrain, Breadcrumb POS (Groupon), WhippleHill, Beyond the Whiteboard, Practice Ignition, and Matchbox.

08. Baji

Baji's team come from both interactive and print backgrounds

The nine members of Baji form a hybrid of creative and interactive skills; half the team specialise in interactive solutions while the others come from a traditional creative/branding background. They're currently working on a project for the Seattle Seahawks, while other clients include Rotary International, Tooth & Nail Records, The Rich Dad Company, and Harkins Theatres.

09. fffunction

The agency's first project: a site redesign for the conference at which it was conceived

Created following a conversation between Ben Coleman and Adam Robertson at Brooklyn Beta 2011, fffunction's first project was, fittingly, the Brooklyn Beta responsive build for 2012. Since then the agency's attracted clients like Roland UK, Viral Ad Network, The Access Group, Fauna & Flora International, and Squarespace. Each of the four team members has both design and development skills, and they are all huge advocates of rapid prototyping, testing and iteration.

10. Active Theory

Active Theory built this responsive site for Venables Bell & Partners

Based in Venice, California, upstart agency Active Theory specialises in HTML5 and JavaScript work for advertising firms. The team of three only takes on work they can get passionate about and they claim they survive for days on sardines and almonds. Their client roster includes Tool of NA, Gentleman Scholar, and Venables Bell & Partners.

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Do you know of a newly formed agency that's doing great work? Tell us about it in the comments below!