Today, leading digital design studio ustwo appointed veteran designer Scott Ewings as MD of its London offices. Mills, co-founder of ustwo™ said of the appointment: "We've done a good job over the last 9 years in terms of enabling awesome people to thrive in our design environment, but the reality is that the next nine years are going to be a different challenge. We needed an experienced hand to compliment our disruptive nature and Scott, my good friend, is the man to lead our London journey."
Harbouring an impressive resume, Ewings career has seen him start-up, develop and sell creative agencies as well as worked inside a big global matrixed organisation. So what are his plans for ustwo? We spoke to him to find out...
Q: Congratulations on the new role at ustwo, Scott. Exciting times ahead! How did you hear about the opening?
"Thanks. There wasn't an opening as such. I've known Mills for a while and our usual random chatting just turned into an idea to join forces."
Q: You were previously working as MD at Fjord, what prompted the move?
"If you're in the digital design space at all you'll have noted ustwo as 'tiger in the bushes' for a few years now. I love the fact that they are totally independent and put people and creativity first.
"For a highly profitable and rapidly growing studio they are remarkably less motivated by money than by doing great work and making it a great place to be. If you add their long-term focus on experimenting with their own products, and increasingly moving into the ventures area, then you've got something really special.
"It's a great mix of breakthrough thinking and getting things done, and that's what you need, whether it's client work or a venture. They are ambitious, sure, but it's not about growth for its own sake. Ultimately it's a brilliant, passionate, learning team, and it's good to be in a gang."
Q: How do you intend to to drive ustwo London to the next level? What is your vision for the studio going forward?
"My vision is to build on what's already there. We are definitely ambitious to take things to a new level. We've got a platform to continue to experiment with developing our own IP, and that means we'll continue to launch both our own products and do ventures with clients and partners.
"There's a lot of groundbreaking client work under the hood, and we want to continue to grow that through being proactive and useful, but it's certainly not all about fees for hours anymore.
"Our team wants to be the 'go-to' for any design challenge, and I think that's a great thing to continue striving for. We just want great work out there in the hands of humans, stuff that makes a difference. Design is a force for good, and we want to do good."
Q: What aspect of being MD of a creative studio do you enjoy the most?
"It's all about the people ultimately. I like seeing people learn and grow and do great work together. Nothing beats seeing something good that the team did make it to market. Those make proud moments and memories."
Q: What qualities do you need to possess in order to lead a team of creative people?
"Patience, ability to bounce back when things get tough, listening. Be real and never BS."
Q: What do you think are the key skills required to pursuing a career in design?
"I think you typically go on a bit of a journey as a designer. You start with a real passion for the craft of creating, and over time you realise that design is a force for solving problems - big or small.
"The key skill that I think it's vital to pick up, is that the context and environment you are designing for is just as important as the craft.
"Too often we fall in love with our own work rather than falling in love with taking something from A to B.
"That focus on executing as well as inventing is the thing, and that means you have to be very focused on how to get things done - client environment, tech environment, business priorities, user need and an understanding of the big outcomes are all as important as the craft."
Q: What have been the highlights of your career to date?
"I loved playing a part in getting Egg and Smile to market in the '90s - it genuinely felt like we were doing good human-focused work with banking back then, something that got massively diluted over time and is in dire need of a comeback right now.
"Playing with the scientists at Stanford Research Institute labs when we did the AtomicTangerine venture together was hugely exciting, totally wrong timing (dotcom days) but we were definitely on a mission.
"Working client-side for Vodafone in Sydney deserves a big thank you - it was a brilliant education being deep in a global matrixed organisation, and I've brought many learnings back to design from that."
Q: Which designers do you look to for inspiration?
"John Maeda tells the truth. Jer Thorp is talking a lot of sense about data. It's a cliche to talk Jonny Ive, but if the question was about impact on the sector he definitely had it. One of Mike Monteiro's talks recently had a massive impact on me. Passion and responsibility."