A laid-back atmosphere pervades at Sea. The consultancy moved to its current studio space near London Bridge because its previous home was too small for the five-a-side football games which round off busy days. The goal posts are hidden when visitors are expected.
The company was formed two years ago by football-mad ex-Imagination designer Bryan Edmonson and John Simpson, previously of Addison and Landor, on the back of an annual report project for The Prince’s Trust. The pair met at Roundel, and decided they wanted to work for themselves. Sea now has eight full-time staff, topped up by freelances, and is considering another move to larger premises.
More projects followed The Prince’s Trust work. “All of a sudden we found we had a dozen clients. We haven’t had to do any new business,” says Edmonson. Sea has also tried to avoid being pigeon-holed, working on branding and identity projects as well as a steady flow of annual reports and related print work. Clients have included the Ritz Casino, paper merchant MoDo and charity Shelter, and the group has worked with design consultancy Ind Associates.
Sea’s business plan includes upping staff levels to between ten and 12 by the end of this year, with between 15 and 20 seen as a practical maximum. “I know it sounds like a clichÃ©, but we didn’t start this just to make loads of money,” says Edmonson.
Sea’s first full year of trading saw it achieve a turnover of 350 000, a figure likely to have grown to 500 000 by the end of its second, and current, year. In a bizarre off-shoot, the group also runs its own taxi. A former black cab, it was used by former client the Weather Channel, which left the UK market, as an advertising tool. The livery has now been changed to Sea’s colour, a vibrant sea blue, and it is plying its trade around London.
Edmonson and Simpson confess they have considered asking the driver to hang around competitors’ offices, just for the pleasure of seeing rival designers in a car bearing the Sea logo. If you are in such a taxi remember to watch your mouth – the walls may have ears.