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London is certainly a design city, and its agencies reflect that. Hundreds of graphic design and creative agencies with myriad specialities thrive across the city. With so much obvious talent there, we didn’t want to make this a “top 5” list—after all, we all work differently and have our own styles and ways of working with clients. Rather, we present five of many agencies we discovered churning out some eye-popping design. Five agencies worth taking note of.
5 London Design Agencies Kicking Ass in the Industry
Though they’re a design firm, don’t call them that. On the agency’s website, GBH (which stands for the surnames of cofounders Jason Gregory, Mark Bonner and Peter Hale), they tout: “GBH is not Design. GBH is not Campaign. GBH is not Digital. GBH is the space between traditional disciplines, we offer a fusion of crafts to cut through. We have no fear.” Since 1999, this studio has been combining graphic design with digital, advertising and branding, all blended into one, with no limits. One highlight is their revamp of an old Howard Johnson motel from the 1950s, which now has been rebranded as The Verb Hotel in Boston. They gave it a new name, identity and refurb with a retro design that appeals to millennials, filing it with rock ‘n’ roll references, a dash of slapstick humor and what they call “an indie spirit.”
Since 2000, London designers Ben Parker and Paul Austin (who met while studying in college) have been leading this agency that strikes a balance between style and concept, as well as risk-taking and spontaneity. They have fun in their office of 18 in London, and they work with a wide range of clients, from luxury brands to lifestyle and art institutions. They focus on “good” design, that which is creatively charged, and have done creative projects for fashion brands Adidas, Stella McCartney and Yves Saint Laurent, as well as tech giant Samsung and celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver.
This young, cutting-edge design firm has quickly grown into a major player on the London scene. It was first founded in 2004 in Southsea and currently has a team of 27 people. What defines ilovedust is both its cool cred and the team’s keen eye for youth culture (dare we say it, hipster). They boast winning several awards for their design work with clients like Nike, Red Bull, Xbox, Karl Lagerfeld, Coca-Cola and Kiehls. The creative director, Mark Graham, says they have a laid-back approach and treat their approach like a social club that gathers on a regular basis. While their branding work—and Marvel-esque illustration work—has defined their work (just look at their campaign with Tommy Hilfiger featuring Gigi Hadid), one highlight has been their music video for famed electronic artists Skillrex and Boys Noize, who collaborated on the song “Dog Blood.” It shows their wild approach to illustration, which feels like an action-packed comic strip.
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This artist and designer is a one-woman show. You can spot Myerscough by her stunning visual style of retro graphics, bold colors and busy compositions. Since 1993, she has been transforming spaces—like the Design Museum in London with bold typeface murals, which are her trademark. Though she grew up in a bohemian household with a textile designer mother and a father who was a classical composer, she studied at the Royal College of Art in the 1980s and started her own firm after freelancing at others, like Why Not Associates and Fuel. While she does work at the studio Supergroup, she mainly works alone, on projects like restaurant design, posters, blow-up kids’ castles and cardboard installations.
Probably the most widely recognized independent design agency in London, Pentagram was founded in 1972 and has expanded to offices in New York, San Francisco and beyond, with more than 200 employees worldwide. They’re known for their branding and design of the London Design Festival (some would say its a huge statement) and are called the “grandfather of design agencies.” They’re also known for their design that verges on the conceptual. The five co-owners and 19 business partners are all designers who work with the firm independently or in collaboration. It certainly helps keep the great passion for design in check.