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Revealed: the top 30 UK design studios in 2019

Stylised 30
Who made the list this year?
(Image credit: Future)

It's that time again! After canvassing creative directors, studio founders and design course leaders from all across the UK, Computer Arts magazine is delighted to reveal the results of the sixth-annual UK Studio Rankings. 

You'll need to buy the latest issue (298, on sale today) of the magazine to get the full details of each studio and the work that led them to win. But here on Creative Bloq, we can reveal the positions each studio gained on 2019's list (compare it to the 2018 UK Studio Rankings here).

The peer-judged UK Studio Rankings aren't about size, longevity or the number of other awards you've won; it's purely about the work you've done in the last 12 months. Being selected by your peers in this way is clearly, then, a huge honour, so read on to learn the studios that made this year's list...

30. Sawdust

Stylised white lettering on black background

Client work for Another Planet Entertainment

(Image credit: Sawdust)
  • Founded: 2006
  • Number of staff: 2

A new entry on our list, one of the biggest work highlights for Sawdust in 2019 was collaborating with Apple to pay homage to the Apollo 11 mission on its 50th anniversary.

29. Kellenberger-White

Black letters on yellow background

Identity work for Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art.

(Image credit: Kellenberger-White)
  • Founded: 2009
  • Number of staff: 5

Another new entry to the UK Studio Rankings, recent projects for Kellenberger-White include identities for Goldsmiths CCA and Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art; exhibition design for the V&A; and books for gallery Hauser & Wirth.

28. Rose Design

D Day poster on busy street

Campaign work for Bletchley Park

(Image credit: Rose)
  • Founded: 1999
  • Number of staff: 6 full-time, 2 part-time

Recently profiled in Computer Arts, Rose Design is a new entry on our list this year, just as it celebrates 20 years in business. "We still get a buzz from solving problems for clients through creativity,” says owner Simon Elliott.

27. Droga5

Colourful billboards

Identity campaign for London's Coal Drops Yard

(Image credit: Droga5)
  • Founded: 2016
  • Number of staff: 7

A further new entry to the UK Studio Rankings is Droga5, who this year launched a visual identity and campaign for Coal Drops Yard, as well as creating work for The Tide in Greenwich Peninsula.

=25. OMSE

Outdoor poster on blue wall

Campaign work for Printworks Autumn/Winter 2019

(Image credit: OMSE)
  • Founded: 2016
  • Number of staff: 6

Joint 25th place this year goes to new entry OMSE; another highlight in the year it received a Campaign Awards Best-In-Show, for its Agenda 2020 Augmented Reality project.

=25. Graphic Thought Facility

Outdoor poster on blue wall

Blink by Anna Fox

(Image credit: Graphic Thought Facility)
  • Founded: 1990
  • Number of staff: 14

Sharing 25th place this year is Graphic Thought Facility, which this year had two projects at Milan Design, and also played a big role in the launch of London hotel The Standard. 

24. dn&co

Two sailing boats with branded sails

Branding work created for The Royal Docks, London

(Image credit: dn&co.)
  • Founded: 2006
  • Number of staff: 25

2019 has seen new entry dn&co. working on projects of greater scale and visibility, including The Royal Docks identity and The V&A wayfinding project.

23. Turner Duckworth

Black building frontage with stylish yellow lettering

Turner Duckworth's visual identity work for creative organisation D&AD

(Image credit: Turner Duckworth)
  • Founded: 1992
  • Number of staff: 110

Turner Duckworth is also a new entry on the UK Studio Rankings list for 2019, a year that saw the studio rebrand McDonald’s global visual identity. 

22. Magpie

3 spirit bottles

Branding for Senser Spirits

(Image credit: Magpie)
  • Founded: 2008
  • Number of staff: 11

Magpie has been doing some fine work in the hospitality sector this year, including the identity for Ryan Chetiyawardana's new Amsterdam bar, Super Lyan.

21. Studio Moross

Colourful poster for Parklife 2019

Poster for Parklife 2019

(Image credit: Studio Moross)
  • Founded: 2012
  • Number of staff: 10

Working on the world Tour for the reformed Spice Girls was a big highlight of 2019 for Kate Moross, director of new entry Studio Moross.

20. Here Design

rainbow Identity for Get Up, Stand Up Now

Identity for Get Up, Stand Up Now

(Image credit: Here)
  • Founded: 2005
  • Number of staff: 37

Here Design has been busy throughout 2019 with projects including branding for The Fife Arms Hotel and the Get Up, Stand Up Now exhibition at Somerset House.

19. FIELD

Colourful motion graphics

Motion work for distillery Alisa Bay

(Image credit: Field)
  • Founded: 2009
  • Number of staff: 10 full time + freelancers in London, 2 full time + freelancers in Berlin

Another new entry, FIELD is now celebrating its 10th anniversary, and its 2019 highlight was crafting the identity for IBM’s Think Conference.

18. Made Thought

Girl and man entwined on beach

Campaign work for Editions de Parfums

(Image credit: Made Thought)
  • Founded: 2000
  • Number of staff: 40

Headline projects for Made Thought in 2019 have included work for Adidas StellaSport, Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle and Fred Perry.

17. APFEL (A Practice for Everyday Life)

Flyer for Eva Rothschild

Exhibition work for Eva Rothschild

(Image credit: APFEL)
  • Founded: 2003
  • Number of staff: 6

APFEL has been commissioned to design two pavilion identities for the Venice Biennale this year, working with Leonor Antunes and Eva Rothschild.

16. Supple Studio

Beauty products

Branding and packaging for Ubiety

(Image credit: Supple Studio)
  • Founded: 2013
  • Number of staff: 6

Favourite projects by Supple Studio in 2019 have included a branded packaging range for Dorothy House Hospice Care, a brand and wayfinding system for the Minster Mill hotel, and its first project for the National Trust.

15. Office of Craig Oldham

A spread from They Live for Rough Trade Books

A spread from They Live for Rough Trade Books

(Image credit: Office of Craig Oldham)
  • Founded: 2007
  • Number of staff: 2-4

In 2019, Office of Craig Oldham projects have including pilot initiatives for British Cycling with Ellen Ling, and working for the V&A with Hannah Warrick.

14. GBH

Sail GP logo

identity for SailGP

(Image credit: GBH)
  • Founded: 1999
  • Number of staff: 20

New in at number 14, GBH (aka Gregory Bonner Hale) engaged new hotel and restaurant work throughout 2019, for clients including Mob Hotel in Paris, Stay KooooK in Bern, and Amor in Milan.

13. North

Manchester International Festival 2019 flyposter

Manchester International Festival 2019 branding

(Image credit: North)
  • Founded: 1995
  • Number of staff: 15

In 2019, North has won both new business in Australia, Thailand and South Korea, and plaudits for its work for Norway’s Munch Museum.

12. DixonBaxi

Branding for Fox Sports

Branding for Fox Sports

(Image credit: DixonBaxi)
  • Founded: 2001
  • Number of staff: 30

DixonBaxi has been doing a lot of digital-heavy brand work in 2019, for clients including Amazon, AT&T, BBC, IMAX and AC Milan.

11. Pentagram London

Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition

Stanley Kubrick: The Exhibition

(Image credit: Pentagram)
  • Founded: 1972
  • Number of staff: Medium

Big projects for the UK office of Pentagram in 2019 have included work for John Lewis Partnership, London Fashion Week and Opera Ballet of Flandres in Belgium.

10. Accept & Proceed

Nike House of Innovation

Accept & Proceed worked on Nike House of Innovation

(Image credit: Accept & Proceed)
  • Founded: 2007
  • Number of staff: 24

A new entry into the top 10 this year, Accept & Proceed has won the admiration of its peers from across the design industry thanks to recent high-profile work for Nike and NASA. "Peer recognition is a wonderful thing," says executive creative director David Johnston. "We are very proud of our work over the past 13 years, and so very grateful to be seen for all we are delivering."

09. Universal Everything

Orange book spread

What is Universal Everything? is the studio’s own archiving project in book form

(Image credit: Universal Everything)
  • Founded: 2004
  • Number of staff: 2 + 10 regular freelancers

For an out-of-London studio to make the top 10 is a rare feat. But Sheffield-based Universal Everything has managed it in 2019, a year that included the release of its first monograph, published by Unit Editions and designed by fellow Top 10 agency Spin. "Being outside of London means we consider every collaborator, client and fan as a global connection," says founder Matt Pyke. "This has given us a global outlook from the start."

08. Taxi Studio

5 Carlsberg bottles

Bottle design for Carlsberg

(Image credit: Taxi)
  • Founded: 2002
  • Number of staff: 47

Following its global rebrand of Carlsberg, and being crowned Creative Pool Independent Agency of the Year, Bristol-based Taxi Studio has also managed to crack the London monopoly over the top 10. "The role of our design thinking, combined with our deep knowledge of brand, has never been more powerful," says co-founder Spencer Buck.

07. Spin

poster for Under The Silver Lake

Poster for Under The Silver Lake

(Image credit: Spin)
  • Founded: 1992
  • Number of staff: 6

With a dramatic rise of 17 places in this year’s UK Studio Rankings, it's been a great year for Spin, in which highlights have included working for MUBI, Neri Oxman, Wallpaper* and Apple. For 2020, there are a lot of things they can't talk about, but "the next 12 months is going to be massive for us," says founder Tony Brook. "Onwards and upwards."

06. Paul Belford Studio

Branding for Hair Solutions

Paul Belford Studio’s design work for Hair Solutions

(Image credit: Paul Belford)
  • Founded: 2013
  • Number of staff: 6 (3 are part-time)

Paul Belford Studio is our highest new entry this year, leaping in at number 6. Why? "I’d like to think it’s the quality of our work," says its eponymous founder. "We tend not to enter creative awards. We make an exception for D&AD, but usually just a token two or three projects to keep the cost down." Despite this, it seems that 2019 is the year the studio's peers sat up and took notice.

05. Commission Studio

Identity for FENTY

Design work for FENTY

(Image credit: Commission)
  • Founded: 2013
  • Number of staff: 8

Another huge climber in this year’s UK Studio Rankings, Commission has shot up 14 places into the top five. Recent highlights for the studio have included launching Rihanna’s fashion brand FENTY. "We feel proud that people see and like our work," says co-founder Christopher Moorby. "Hopefully, it means a wider audience is starting to see it too."

04. Studio Sutherl& 

Bag for St Albans Museum + Gallery

Branding for St Albans Museum + Gallery

(Image credit: Studio Sutherl&)
  • Founded: 2014
  • Number of staff: 2

Having topped the UK Studio Rankings for two consecutive years, Studio Sutherl& has stayed firmly in the top five this year. It's currently working on a new Human Atlas project in Detroit with Marcus Lyon, as well as a music venue in London, a stately home in Yorkshire and a new environmental charity, to name but a few projects. "We put joy into every project that comes our way, and that joy comes out the other end somehow," says founder Jim Sutherland.

03. NB Studio

Drawn orange hand holding credit card

NB Studio’s design work for ANNA

(Image credit: NB)
  • Founded: 1998
  • Number of staff: 15

NB Studio has shot up the UK Studio Rankings dramatically in 2019, rising 25 places to take the third-place spot. It's a great achievement in the year of its 21st birthday, when it's also invested in new premises in Southwark. "We can’t thank our friends in the design world enough for their support," says co-founder Alan Dye. "Hopefully, this represents a vote for simplicity, empathy and impact through design."

02. JKR

Whisky bottle in box

JKR’s branding work created for Athrú

(Image credit: JKR)
  • Founded: 1990
  • Number of staff: 140 (UK)

JKR wins the exalted second place in the UK Studio Rankings, in a year that's seen the agency broaden its horizons, working in the sustainability space for Miller Harris, creating branding for Irish distillery Athrú, and designing Budweiser’s new offices. "We believe a great idea can come from anywhere, and always look for opportunities to share briefs amongst the wider studio," says executive creative director Sean Thomas. "That’s led to some of the most exciting work for us over the past 12 months."

01. Superunion

Monochrome ident for BBC2

Superunion’s work for BBC Two

(Image credit: Superunion)
  • Founded: 2018
  • Number of staff: 181 (UK)

Ever since five WPP Group agencies joined forces in early 2018, the resulting company, Superunion, has gone from strength to strength. Winning Best of Show at the Brand Impact Awards for the second year running with its BBC Two rebrand – which also scooped a D&AD Yellow Pencil earlier this year – topping the UK Studio Rankings in 2019 is the icing on the cake for the global branding powerhouse.

"This is really special for us all for two reasons," says chief creative officer Greg Quinton. "First, because we just didn’t expect anything like this so soon as a ‘new’ agency. It’s been less than two years since we launched and to be honest it’s the first year where our work reflects Superunion. 

"Second, it’s amazing to think what we’re doing appears to be clicking and that our peers appear to like the new work. It’s been a roller coaster in the pitch black, so any recognition is a ray of light in the tunnel! Thanks peers!"

For the full lowdown on this year's UK Studio Rankings, don't miss the latest issue of Computer Arts, the world's best-selling design magazine. Buy issue 298 or subscribe to Computer Arts.

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