The UK’s fifth largest design consultancy, Interbrand, has axed its dedicated 3D unit due to the slowing global economy and the subsequent downturn in corporate identity work.
The move appears to be the first significant belt-tightening by a major multidisciplinary group. Until now, digital specialists have borne the brunt of the economic downturn.
Joint managing director Tony Allen says, “There is a noticeable downturn in global identity work, low investment in the US and fewer mergers and acquisitions.”
The 3D unit was set up in 2000 and concentrated on the executional side of corporate identities created by the consultancy’s six specialist identity teams.
Its work, which included the creation of signage, lobbies and reception areas, was to “bring [Interbrand’s] global projects to life”, says Allen. The division’s work has been subsumed back into the six teams.
Allen plays down the significance of the department’s closure. He says the facility is still offered by Interbrand, which has handled identity work since 1978. “[The 3D unit] was not the only part of the company capable of offering the service. It will continue as part of our regular offer.”
He denies Interbrand has experienced difficulties holding down a dedicated 3D team. “Brand development has always been the heart of our business. We have had no problem keeping a 3D unit going, but Interbrand’s focus has always been the bigger picture, rather than classic 3D,” he says.
The 3D unit is understood to have used freelance staff on a long-term regular basis. Allen says freelance staff will continue to be used by the consultancy.
Three permanent staff have lost their jobs. Head of department Neil Cavagan, who left several months ago, has not been replaced.
Meanwhile, Interbrand has this week acquired 90-strong Paris-based environmental and architectural design consultancy, Gerard Barrau/ Architral.