Design studio NinetyOne (based in the UK and France) has promoted Sophie Azaïs to creative director. She will run the consultancy alongside Sam Hextall; the studio’s previous work includes branding for Portuguese restaurant Bar Douro and women’s lifestyle brand Women in Mind.
Manchester-based digital design consultancy Anything has hired Leanda Falcon, as it seeks to expand its client base. Falcon has previously worked at Kellogg’s and has experience across brand strategy and identity.
Designer Mark Epton has set up Monkey Wrench Design, a studio which aims to help grassroots peace, environmental and social justice groups. The new venture takes its name from Edward Abbey’s novel The Monkey Wrench Gang, which tells the story of four misfits who want to save the American wilderness from destruction. “This is using design, not to sell more crap to people, but to help those monkeywrenching the system that is killing us,” Epton says. It is part of Epton’s parent studio Advocate.
Brand strategists James Groves and Stephen Lloyd have created strategic insight platform Substance, which seeks to help clients “build organisations with purpose” though a series of workshops. Before launch, Substance beta-tested its services with London design studios Accept & Proceed and Commission.
German emobility company Quantron AG has set out plans to become an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) by collaborating with Italian car designer Fabio Filippini and Spanish design consultancy Mormedi (which recently partnered with HyperloopTT on an autonomous freight network). By 2025, Quantron AG hopes to release a bus design, a light and heavy truck.
Dutch media group Candid has acquired UK brand consultancy Brand Potential, which has previously worked with Innocent and Twinings. Brand Potential founders Mary Say, Tom Lovett and Chris Molloy have joined Candid as partners.
The winners of Instagram’s inaugural #BlackDesignVisionaries grant programme – which seeks to bring awareness to black designers and black-led design businesses – have been revealed. The award was founded by Instagram’s design account (@design) and presented in partnership with the Brooklyn Museum. There were over 500 applications for the prize’s first year, and the judging committee was included costume designer Ruth E. Carter and head of Instagram Japan Ian Spalter.
The winner of the $100,000 (£75,000) Visionary Small Business Grant was fashion design company Head of State. Brooklyn-based design studio Morcos Key, founded by Jon Key and Wael Morcos, was awarded the $75,000 (£55,000) Impact Award. Three Aspiring Designer grants (each worth around £7,500) were awarded to spatial designer Dominique Petit-Frere, type designer Tre Seals and Sabla Stays.
London’s Design Museum has launched the Ralph Saltzman Design Prize, an annual £5,000 award for emerging product designers. Saltzman founded materials company Designtex, and his family has set up the prize to celebrate his legacy. Winners will also have the opportunity to have their work exhibited at the museum. Among the first year’s nominees are Sky Lucy Young, Mac Collins and Alexandra Fruhstorfer.
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Banner image is courtesy of Substance.