The UK's top design studios: 14-10 revealed

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 (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.

We previously revealed 19-15 on the list (opens in new tab): here we reveal numbers 14-10. Has your studio been honoured?

14. Here Design (opens in new tab)

Sesame branding

Interior design and brand identity for Sesame
  • Founded: 2005
  • Location: London Fields, Hackney, London

Here Design is relatively small, but what they lack in size they make up for in self-belief. As creative partner Mark Paton puts it: "Our biggest strength is the naïve assumption that we can design anything".

This year that included a new brand identity and packaging for Bacardi; the interior design and brand identity for Sesame, Yotam Ottolenghi's new food concept (pictured); and the launch of their own food brand, 'The Geometry of Pasta'. "The learning curve was steep, and it's given us a much deeper appreciation of the challenges our clients face," says Paton.

Want to work at Here Design? They offer a rolling placement scheme that usually takes one or two people for a month at a time. "All interns get the living wage," says Paton. "In exceptional cases, placements lead to employment as a junior designer."

13. Moving Brands (opens in new tab)

eir logo

Branding for new Irish telecom eir
  • Founded: 1998
  • Location: Hoxton, London, San Francisco, Zurich, New York

Moving Brands' strength, says CEO Mat Heinl, is "a fearless approach to doing progressive and creative work". They've been putting this into practice recently as lead creative partner for eir, a new Irish telecom (pictured). "It's fresh and brave and I think it changes the profile of branding and design topics in Ireland," says Heinl.

Another 2015 highlight has been the "big efforts our team have put into growing our New York studio," he adds. "We've had quite a lot of practice setting up studios abroad and it's always an exciting challenge."

Heinl started as an intern himself, and Moving Brands continues to offer internships in its studios, all year round, across all areas. "We care a great deal and are keen to help develop every intern's skills," he says. "Most end up being permanent members of our team."

12. Bibliothèque (opens in new tab)

magazine cover

Watch journal The Hour magazine
  • Founded: 2004
  • Location: Clerkenwell

Bibliothèque moved from Shoreditch to Clerkenwell this year and partner Tim Beard couldn't be happier with the cheaper rent and faster broadband they've been enjoying as a result – not to mention "no longer being adjacent to a building site".

Other highlights of 2015 have included publishing the first two issues of The Hour (pictured) – a beautifully written and designed watch journal that places emphasis on cerebral content rather than luxury and celebrity – and working on a restaurant for Nuno Mendes.

Their ambitions for 2016 include "building on some very exciting introductions made in 2015, continuing to push ourselves and our clients as hard as we can, and sharing some very exciting projects being delivered in the second half of 2015."

11. NB Studio (opens in new tab)


Branding for drinks brand Aspall
  • Founded: 1997
  • Location: South Bank, next door to Tate Modern

What marks branding and communication agency NB Studio apart? According to creative director Nick Finney, it's "creative courage". That means "having the bravery to turn work down to keep standards high and maintain our integrity". It's an approach that's led them to rewarding projects, such as curating this year's brilliant Sign of the Times exhibition in Shoreditch and branding for Aspall (pictured).

They issue the following advice to other studios wishing to emulate their success: "There is so much vanilla out there, be yourself, be courageous and mostly stay curious and never ever stop learning."
Although a small studio, new designers are welcome to try their luck at NB. "We have always had an extremely strong internship. Most of NB designers have come through this process."

10. Pentagram (opens in new tab)

Financial report

Lloyd's of London Report
  • Founded: 1972
  • Location: Notting Hill, London, New York, Austin, Berlin, San Francisco

"Pentagram's strength is, and has always been, the variety of our work," says partner Domenic Lippa, who feels both "sceptical and proud" to appear in this list.

"The biggest challenge for any design studio is to produce great work that you can feel proud of," he believes. "One of the ways that we've achieved is by staying independent, one of our most important founding principles." But that doesn't mean things standing still, and 2015 has seen the arrival of Hudson-Powell founders Luke Powell and Jody Hudson-Powell. "New partners arriving is always exciting as it helps shape and change Pentagram, " says Lippa.

As ever, the studio's work has drawn praise across the board in 2015, from its makeover of the Lloyd's of London Report (pictured) to its rebrand of First Great Western as GWR.

Buy the issue!

The full report on the 2015 Studio Rankings – and much, much more – was published in Computer Arts issue 246 (opens in new tab), which also came with a rather snazzy heat-reactive cover. The issue has just gone off sale, but you can stick pick up a back issue from our online store (while stocks last) here (opens in new tab).

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