Earlier this year, Computer Arts polled almost 70 top designers, creative directors and studio founders across the UK to discover which industry peers they most revere, respect and in some cases envy, to produce the second annual UK Studio Rankings.
The results are detailed in Computer Arts issue 246 – on sale now (opens in new tab) – alongside a wealth of insight and advice from each of the top 30 studios, plus a host of statistics that will be helpful whether you're a freelancer for hire, designer looking for a salaried job or student seeking an internship.
Just to whet your appetite, here we reveal numbers 30-25: is your studio on the list?
30. Music (opens in new tab)
- Founded: 2008
- Location: Northern Quarter, Manchester
"We're notoriously introverted," admits Dave Simpson, partner and creative director at Music. "So it's great to find out that people know about us." They certainly deserve to be known, having created superb work for the likes of Manchester City FC, British Fashion Council and Universal Music, joined in 2015 by new clients Powerleague, Henry Moore (pictured) and Victoria Plum.
"As we approach our 10-year milestone, our ambitions are centred around rewards for the people who work with us," adds Simpson.
As for newcomers, Music employs paid interns on a minimum of a four-week rota, or sometimes longer. "It's important to give students an opportunity," says Simpson, "and a few of our interns have turned into full-time members of staff."
29. OK-RM (opens in new tab)
- Location: Hackney, East London
A collaborative practice engaged in partnerships with artists, curators, editors, architects, designers and institutions, OK-RM has gone from strength to strength in 2015. Co-founder Rory McGrath describes the studio's ethos as "the belief that to be realised, good concepts need appropriately good ideas".
He picks out the year's high points as follows. "Founding InOtherWords, which creates books as collectable objects, working in close collaboration with artists (pictured). Working with the V&A on Reading the V&A , which gave us the opportunity to work in different mediums. And having the opportunity to work with talented designers and a project manager in studio, which is helping us build a collective and inspiring spirit to undertake new, exciting projects."
Currently employing two full-time young designers, OK-RM also aims to work with two to three design interns per year.
28. Hingston Studio (opens in new tab)
- Founded: 1997
- Location: Soho, Central London
What makes Hingston Studio different, says founder Tom Hingston, is "a real diversity in our approach. Our collective skill set allows us to execute beautifully crafted work in any media."
And not unexpectedly, his high points for 2015 are suitably diverse: "Winning Best in Show at the Type Directors Club for our Bowie promo 'Sue'. The completion of our installation in the lobby space of the Ampersand Building in Soho (pictured). And collaborating on two title sequences with old friends, directors Anton Corbijn (Life) and Joe Wright (PAN)."
What of next year? "The studio has started producing more and more moving image based work over the last two years," says Hingston, "so we're really excited about the idea of developing this approach further."
In general, he feels, it's a great time to be a studio in London. "UK design has a greater respect than ever before, and the UK is being recognised as a thriving, global hub for creativity."
27. Saffron (opens in new tab)
- Founded: 2001
- Location: Hoxton, London; plus NYC, Madrid, Istanbul, Miami, Mumbai, Vienna
2015 was a time of rather mixed emotions for Saffron. "It was our first year as an agency without one of our founding partners, the great Wally Olins, who sadly passed away last year," explains executive creative director Gabor Schreier.
But the studio has continued to move forward "as Wally would have wished", winning new clients in 2015 including Tiger (Retail, Copenhagen), Bank of America-MBNA and Sodexo, and creating new branding for electronics company BQ (pictured), telecom giant Telco and oil company Cepsa.
"As our London studio continues to grow and flourish, we recruit talent on an as-and- when-we-need basis," adds Schreier. "For example, last year we took on a graphic design intern who is now a full-time junior designer."
26. Sennep (opens in new tab)
- Founded: 2003
- Location: Whitechapel, East London
Sennep moved to a new home in Whitechapel this year. "The struggle is real in London – prices and demand are no joke," says co-founder Matt Rice. "But we got there in the end. And our new home is pretty much a blank canvas to design our dream workspace."
2015 also saw their new online store for Edwin Europe (pictured) go live – "a great sense of achievement after nailing some technical challenges" – and a slot at design event Semi-Permanent ("presenting alongside some big names really got the blood flowing").
Meanwhile, Sennep continues to draw in new talent. "Over the past years we've had interns from all over the world," says Rice. "Most of our junior roles have been filled by interns."
25. SomeOne (opens in new tab)
- Founded: 2005
- Location: Shoreditch, East London
"We've never been busier," says Simon Manchipp, founder of SomeOne. "There seems to be no slowdown in the race to launch new products, organisations and services, and even less time to pause when it comes to keeping brands competitive. And as long as that continues, we seem to be in the best city in the world to create and deploy progressive and effective commercial creativity."
This year that's included work for Cancer Research UK he describes as "immensely rewarding both creatively and intellectually", and the team's award-winning branding for the Baku 2015 European Games.
And they're constantly on the lookout for new talent. "We have always supported a strong internship scheme here, and it feeds the entire business," Manchipp explains.
Buy the issue!
For the full report on the 2015 Studio Rankings – and much, much more – get your copy of Computer Arts issue 246 (opens in new tab). The print version sports a special heat-reactive cover, which is not to be missed!
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