Thursday, April 14, 2011

Very Studio - London

Today I took a bus to visit Very Studio, a small graphic design company in Elephant and Castle, a suburb of London. Very Studio is 7 years old and owned by JP Winters and his business partner Alex. JP and Alex worked together in a larger design company, and around the same time left to pursue freelance projects. After about a year of working independently, they found that they were often working together, because JP would make an identity for the company, but not build their website, and Alex would build websites, but not want to do the branding, so a match was made.
Looking at their website, they have a wide visual style which is an attestant to their talent as designers. Their company does not have a defining look or feel, they are adaptive and personal to the client. 

I sat down and chatted with JP, who was very friendly and gave me a half pint of lager from the bar downstairs under their studio. He owns the bar, so why not? They studio was just a small room in what looks like an upstairs apartment, but is actually office spaces instead. There is an alligator skin on the typical white walls of design studios, the floor is rough hard wood recently exposed from its carpet, and there is a fire place on one side of the room. JP seemed to half heartedly apologize for this, but I loved it, it was comfortable and friendly, professional but not intimidating. 

Due to them being a small company, Very often gets non-profit and small projects. This is fine by them, as this allows them more input and ability to navigate the design. When working with a large client, you often have to submit to logo standards and color schemes, but with small companies and projects, there is more development to be had. They often get to help the businesses decide what it is that they actually need, using their expertise to understand the business, and then analyze where improvement can be made. This usually results in them rewriting the brief originally presented to them. 

I like Very Studio's because they are very talented, but also have worked on morally sustainable projects, projects that promote and support good behavior in the world. While they do work for financial companies, they also work with foster-care non profits, environmental law non profits, and other moral people. It would be nearly impossible, especially for a company of less than 10 people, to turn away projects by financial companies or retail, but by keeping a low overhead they are also able to help others as well. Also, clients have been turned away because the Studio felt they could not support the message the client was promoting. That is another important quality in a designer, in my opinion. 

Take a look at their website, check out their projects. They are a good company, doing good things. 

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