More collaboration across disciplines could help to reinvigorate the industry

It’s all change at the top end of design, with yet another move in the creative upper echelons. Ben Stott’s decision to quit NB Studio, the consultancy he co-founded some 13 years ago, adds to the pool of super-talents who see the current climate as a great opportunity to go it alone.

What is interesting about Stott’s move is that he wants to do things differently, moving beyond his roots in graphics to collaborate across disciplines. He has no concrete plans at present, other than a couple of projects he is working on, but we can expect something to emerge soon.

The spirit of cross-disciplinary collaboration has long been in design and has prompted deals such as that struck by branding group Identica and interiors consultancy Your Studio this week to work on joint projects. There are many precedents for this – not least Start Creative’s hugely successful tie-in with Manchester-based interiors group Judge Gill – and we can expect more. Branding group Elmwood, for example, is reportedly poised to announce a similar arrangement.

Most have been prompted by client demand. Why else would a consultancy contemplate such a marriage? But there is also a desire for growth among independent specialists, without swelling staff numbers, to reach new markets or maximise their hold on existing ones. Collaboration presents a relatively low-risk option here.

But there is another element at play – the need to step into the unknown and stretch yourself creatively – which is a big factor in Stott’s move out of his comfort zone to test himself again, as he and NB Studio partners Alan Dye and Nick Finney did when they left Pentagram all those years ago.

Stott cites the Royal College of Art where, he says, you are likely to find the best graphics in, say, the architecture department, and students experiment across disciplines. If this approach can be instilled more firmly in consultancy life, design could take a much-needed turn in direction.

Latest articles