Exclusive Computer Arts survey: the UK’s top 50 studios revealed

 the UK's top 50 studios

Welcome to the first set of findings from Computer Art’s UK Studio Rankings 2014, the result of a poll of 60 leading designers and creative directors based across the country.

Crucially, this survey is all about peer reputation – regardless of size, budget or awards. In short: the 50 world-class studios on this list are here because their fellow designers think they should be.

You’ll find the top 30 revealed in the latest issue of Computer Arts (233), which hits the newsstand on Thursday 16 October (you’ll be able to purchase a copy online from Thursday morning), and we’ll be counting down to the UK’s number one studio on Creative Bloq over the next four weeks.

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In the meantime, here we exclusively reveal the 15 world-class design studios that made positions 31-50…

31. Music

You can take a virtual walk around Music’s Manchester studio via the firm’s website

David Simpson and Matthew Beardsell opened Music studio in the Northern Quarter of Manchester back in 2007, with the intention of establishing a hardworking yet fun-loving environment where creatives would feel supported and valued.

That rationale quickly bore fruit, and Music has since grown into a successful 24-strong team that works across branding, digital, advertising, experiential design and interior solutions, with an original approach being the only pre-requisite for tackling a brief.

“The vibe is hardworking and fun – hopefully a place where individuals feel supported and valued,” say Simpson and Beardsell.

32. SomeOne

SomeOne is the new lead brand partner of Cancer Research UK

Centrally located in Shoreditch’s Silicon roundabout, SomeOne is an award-winning design practice that cuts out the middleman between creative and client. Since 2005 the firm has focused on launching, relaunching and protecting products, services and organisations worldwide, while growing from a team of three to 33.

“Consistent branding makes us sad,” says co-founder Simon Manchipp. “Consistent equals predictable, patronising, repetitive, dull. People often ask for consistency, but what they need is coherent thinking. We do that.”

“We’re a dysfunctional family that functions exceptionally well as an ambitious and progressive design practice,” he continues. “We’re a lawsuit waiting to happen when it comes to our after-hours activities.”

33. DesignStudio

DesignStudio worked with Airbnb in a year-long project to create a top-to-bottom transformation of the Airbnb brand

DesignStudio was founded in 2009 by designers Ben Wright and Paul Stafford to fill the gap in the creative industry between small boutiques and sprawling design firms. Working out of London and San Francisco, the team work across branding, art direction, digital and motion with the aim of bringing bespoke solutions to global brands and audiences.

DesignStudio’s recent top-to-bottom transformation of the Airbnb brand highlights its commitment to the creative process and is testament to its belief that through creativity, anything is possible.

“We have a strong team of creative minds,” explain the studio. “Every single member is encouraged to push themselves creatively and get involved with projects they’re passionate about. We look to support this creativity, to allow the team to take things further than they ever have before.”

34. Why Not Associates

Why Not Associates’ collaborative prints with Charming Baker

For over 25 years, London-based graphic design company Why Not Associates has been busy crafting a diverse portfolio, from museum exhibitions for the VA to motion projects for Channel 4 and beyond.

At its heart is a tightly knit creative team who work in a relaxed atmosphere and have the freedom to explore design solutions in their own way. Print, branding, typography, motion and public art all come under the studio’s remit. “We always try to push our clients to the most interesting solution that works for them,” says co-founder Andy Altmann.

35. B-Reel

B-Reel’s Xbox Glitch was the first project of its kind to integrate TVC and web in such a way

Billed as a self-styled “creative partner” to clients, B-Reel has successfully championed its vision of collaboration since its inception in 1999. A multidisciplinary team of 150 employees man offices in London, Stockholm, New York, Los Angeles, Berlin and Barcelona, which speaks to the firm’s international pedigree and ability to provide solutions for virtually any medium.

“We merge high-end design and polish with the ability to solve very complex and seemingly impossible creative propositions,” says B-Reel’s Lins Karnes.

Just this year, the studio’s XBox Glitch campaign was the first of its kind to integrate TV commercials and web content, utilising a knack for innovative storytelling and high-concept design.

36-50 top UK studios in 2014…

The members of our 2014 judging panel also considered the following studios to be outstanding contributors to the UK creative industry this year. Here, listed alphabetically, are 2014’s top 36-50 UK studios…


  • Studios: New York, Toronto, London, Amsterdam, Shanghai
  • www.anomaly.com

The globally acclaimed Anomaly bills itself as a “new model agency” in response to the idea that the old agency models are broken and traditional solutions are becoming less effective. Backed up by an international team boasting diverse skillsets in interactive marketing, media strategy and design, Anomaly is set to lead the change.


  • Studio: London
  • www.constructlondon.com

Construct’s status as design boutique reflects the studio’s “small but beautiful size”, its clientele and its dedication to the authentic, specialist and sophisticated. The London-based design practice offers branding, graphic design, copywriting, strategy and art direction services.

Designers Anonymous

  • Studio: London
  • www.designers-anonymous.com

Founded by Darren Barber and Christian Eager, Designers Anonymous is an award-winning agency that boasts close relationships with its clients, which include Carlsberg, 20th Century Fox and Tate Gallery. Working across everything from print and packaging to digital and video, the studio specialises in charismatic communications.

Future Deluxe

  • Studios: London, Brighton
  • www.futuredeluxe.co.uk

Future Deluxe is an experimental creative studio driven by research, technology, and the pursuit of new aesthetics and techniques. Its work covers CG, moving image, interaction, design and film production, and serves a wide range of industries, from fashion to technology, music and entertainment.

Golden Wolf

  • Studio: London
  • www.goldenwolf.tv

Golden Wolf is a passionate and prolific animation studio based in Shoreditch. Founded in 2013 as a sister company to leading design studio ilovedust, it specialises in imaginative animation and motion graphics. Clients include Cartoon Network, Warner Bros and Disney.


  • Studio: London
  • www.kin-design.com

Research and design studio Kin was founded in 2008 and is made up of designers, developers and makers. Its work was shortlisted for Designs of the Year at the Design Museum in 2011 and appeared in Time Magazine’s Top 10 of Everything 2010.


  • Studios: Manchester, London
  • www.storiesbylove.com

Love is a design-led agency that takes an integrated approach to storytelling, utilising advertising, branding, digital and experiential to meet its clients’ aims. Love believes that design sits at the core of brand success, and seeks to develop visionary solutions that drive conversation and engagement for global brands.

Mark Studio

  • Studio: Manchester
  • www.markstudio.co.uk

Mark is an independent branding and graphic design studio. Since 2005, it has been producing work for clients of all kinds and sizes, winning a fair few awards along the way. Mark likes to keep things simple, works hard to understand a client’s business and what makes it different, and works harder still to communicate that difference in the most engaging and effective way.


  • Studio: London
  • www.northdesign.co.uk

Sean Perkins launched North in 1995. The studio is responsible for a wealth of striking and innovative identities for the likes of RAC, The Royal Mint and Carat, and – as our survey shows – remains as highly thought of today as it was in the mid 90s.

Rehab Studio

  • Studios: Belfast, London, New York
  • www.rehabstudio.com

Rehab is all about working with partners on a project by project basis, blending creativity and innovative technology with expert craftsmanship. The studio launched in Belfast in 2005, and since then has been busy crafting experiences that people want to talk about, share and engage with.

Saffron Brand Consultants

  • Studios: London, Madrid, New York, Miami, Istanbul, Vienna, Mumbai
  • www.saffron-consultants.com

Saffron has a strong “one-office” philosophy and operating model. Its global team of strategists, designers and account managers work as a coherent team across its different offices to bring the best of its knowledge, skills and experience to its clients, wherever they are in the world.


  • Studio: London
  • www.madebysawdust.co.uk

Sawdust is the award-winning creative partnership of Rob Gonzalez and Jonathan Quainton. The pair focus on bespoke typography, image-making and visual identity across a diverse range of sectors, creating work with intelligence, visual ingenuity and meticulous craft.

Studio AKA

  • Studio: London
  • www.studioaka.co.uk

Studio AKA is a multi-BAFTA winning and Oscar-nominated independent animation studio, known internationally for its idiosyncratic and innovative work, which is expressed across an eclectic range of projects.

UK Government Digital Services

  • Studio: Cabinet Office, London
  • https://gds.blog.gov.uk

Although not a traditional studio, the Government Digital Services team operates like an in-house agency within government. The GDS helps government make digital services and information simpler, clearer and faster, and puts users’ needs before the needs of government.

United Visual Artists

  • Studio: London
  • www.uva.co.uk

UVA is a London-based art practice that combines a wide range of disciplines including sculpture, installation, live performance and architecture. The studio has an open approach to collaboration, uniting diverse skills to continuously evolve new technologies and materials, which in turn suggest new artistic directions.

Words: Tim Hardwick

Huge thanks to all the 60 panel members for their input, and of course congratulations to the final 30 – find out who they are tomorrow in Computer Arts issue 233. Don’t agree with our final rankings? Let us know in the Comments below…

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Updated: 21.10.2014 — 12:04