The Visual Design Studios of 2020 You Need To Know About
There are design studios and there are design studios. We’re highlighting the ones blazing trails and pushing envelopes that are worthy of your attention. We trust you’re taking notes.
If you also want to learn about the visual designers who are smashing it, you’d do well to bookmark this resource.
OK, let’s go.
Nomad is one of London’s top visual design and branding studios. They favour proper storytelling over cheap gimmicks and are experts at delivering brand strategy. Check out how they’ve elevated the Women’s FA and tackled racism in football through thought-provoking campaigns. If storytelling is your jam, read Stu Watson’s (founder of Nomad) musings on the subject here.
Koto has studios in Berlin, London and LA. There are 3 things you should know about them. 1) They’re unwaveringly positive, 2) They’re agile as antelopes, 3) They bring a relentless hustle to the projects that lands on their table. Describing themselves as “sector agnostic”, they’re up for working with anyone that’s like-minded, whether you’re a household name or a fledgeling start-up. Their creds include Airbnb, Skyscanner and Venmo.
With a name like Toyfight, you already know you’re in for a treat, right? Founders Johnny and Leigh’s personalities and friendship shine through their work. It’s no surprise they’re one of the hottest award-winning design studios out there.
The dynamic duo are based in Manchester and believe if they’re having fun, so should their clients. They’re big into collaboration and off the wall ideas. Clearly, they’re doing something right as they’ve bagged briefs with WeWork, Google, Adidas, Chanel, Playstation, Beats, Coca Cola and have won countless awards. We don’t endorse violence at Created, but this is the kind of fight we encourage you to get involved with.
Say hello to the Godfathers of the design world. With studios in more cities than you’ve had hot dinners, they help companies “grow by enabling them to change. Fast.”
They’ve worked on a number of socially important causes like Women’s History Month, Love Has No Labels (our personal fave), and have been consistently vocal about BLM. If that wasn’t all, their client list includes Nike, Samsung, Minecraft, Lego, eBay, Uber…the list doth go on. Seriously, if you don’t know R/GA yet, you should.
Side by Side
Side by Side studio are a bit left field and we love ‘em for it. These best friends formed their venture to counteract the soul-destroying sales-driven mentality of monster design studios. They do it all, charmingly describing themselves as “Masters of Fuck all”. They proudly celebrate the fact that Jacks of all Trades are needed in this business and believe they’ll “never be 100% perfect at one thing because the world moves too fast for that.” And if their team can’t do it, they’ll bring in a specialist who can. Easy.
And if you thought you couldn’t love them anymore, they also have an advice page where they pass on their knowledge to graduates, designers and businesses alike.
Any Other Name may be young but are already turning heads. They’re a London based creative studio specialising in art direction, branding and content for the fashion, lifestyle and culture sector. They’ve got a refined approach that helps them understand their nuanced audience. Boy does it work for them. Their stuff is eye-catching, glossy and definitely not last season. With clients including Chanel, Moet, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co, they make us feel so luxurious, it frankly hurts.
This London studio believes in “transformative design”. They want to create icons that will ripple through time and won’t get lost in the noise. They pride themselves on thinking outside of the boxy norms. They go bigger, broader and better with their ideas. They are provocative fad haters and all they ask from their clients is that they be open to change. If you hire them, they’ll take you and your brand on a whirlwind adventure.
Made Thought collaborates internationally with brands across all sectors and count TopShop, & Other Stories, Adidas, The Museum of Modern Art, David Beckham and Pinterest in their books.
Who doesn’t love a company with a conscience? This award-winning Australian branding studio chooses to only work with clients that share their stance on social, cultural, economic, animal and environmental issues. Sustainability and community are at their core.
They’ve worked with Design Matters, Melbourne International Film Festival, Sea Shepherd and World Wildlife Fund for Nature. On top of this, they run a mentoring scheme for women in Graphic Design called Womenter and donate each year to worthy causes. Studio Vertigo is living proof you can create without feeling like you’ve sold your soul to the devil. Let’s toast to that.
Bibliotheque is a studio that focuses on identity, spatial, digital, and print design. Their work is oh-so-chic. Rather than harp on about ethos and practice, they let the work speak for itself.
Their clients range from The Barbican, The British Council, Natural History Museum, Google, Tate, V&A. That’s one heck of a sophisticated dinner party.
This power house is a global creative production company with an edge. Prepared to be awe-inspired by their creative output. With offices all over the world and over 2,000 employees and designers of every ilk, it’s no wonder these media gurus (or monks), have cornered the market with innovative branding and technologies.
They’ve worked with Google to implement a night time sound walk of Marseille, made interactive games for Old Spice, raised awareness for the gender pay gap with the transport company BVG (Berlin), championed art exhibitions for Parkinson’s Charity and teamed up with Jack Daniels to tell the stories of bartenders, bouncers and barflies.
And there you have it creative. The hottest studios in the biz according to us. Remember, visual design is not binary. You could be working on an array of things if the culture of these aforementioned studios is anything to go by. So don’t ever limit yourself, got it?
Stu Watson from Nomad told us how he uses storytelling to enhance a brand’s image & reputation.
Find out what storytelling in design is, and how to use it to enhance your work.
Want to know what’s hot right now? Well, check out our top visual designers to whet your creative appetite.