Miller Sutherland is pulling out of mainstream design to focus on projects not directly related to packaging design.
The seven-year-old London group has resigned from the Superdrug roster and has stopped working for clients such as Elida Faberge, holistic remedies manufacturer A Nelson & Co and Marks & Spencer.
It aims to retain only two long-standing clients, Waitrose, for which it is currently working on the 22-product Pure toiletries range, and Taylor’s Port.
“We will be shedding just about everything, but will continue to exist as a unit,” says Kathy Miller. “We are leaving the core – the partnership.”
Miller and partner SiÃ¢n Sutherland aim to pursue “something worthwhile that makes a difference”, according to Miller. “It won’t necessarily involve design, but it will be creative,” she says.
The partners’ plans are not yet clearly defined, but both are keen to work on educational projects, possibly involving young, underprivileged children. The hope is “to put something back, but we are not charity wives”, says Sutherland.
It is possible they will also become involved in film work with agency Arden Sutherland-Dodd, with which Miller Sutherland will continue to share premises in London’s Soho.
“The only way to explore ideas is by stopping something,” says Miller. Being small means being busy with only a few projects, she says, adding: “We’ve never had to go out and find work. We turn away more than we’ve taken on.”
The consultancy has two design staff, Clare Smith and freelance designer Lucy Drew. They were told of the partners’ plans in January, when the consultancy stopped taking on new projects.
Miller Sutherland, which has won several awards for its packaging design, aims to complete all but the Waitrose and Taylor’s Port work by September.
See News Analysis, page 8