The industry has always thrived on friendships – long may that continue

News that Matt Baxter is leaving 300 Million to join Together Design in the autumn will come as no surprise to anyone who knows either consultancy.

The camaraderie between the two has been writ large for years, to the extent that they ran a system for rotating staff between groups for a while, along with Purpose. And there was shared heritage before that, former Trickett & Webb being the alma mater for Baxter and Together’s Katja Thielens and Heidi Lightfoot.

There is nothing new about this in design. It is a relatively small industry, characterised by friendship and personal loyalty in the face of the inevitable commercial competition, and professional relationships endure. The origins of the industry as we know it lie in five main camps that dominated the 1980s – Terence Conran’s creative empire, Fitch, Michael Peters Group, Pentagram and Wolff Olins – and most of today’s senior players found their feet with one of these.

Look at the old Fitch team in Rodney Fitch’s original incarnation that included Dilys Maltby, now of Circus, Jon Turner, now of Boots, and Paul Porrall, now of John Lewis, among others. That trio found itself reinstated at Imagination and then The Body Shop over time, and they are typical.

It is great to know that this spirit survives among a younger generation. It will be interesting to see which prove to be the seminal groups in interaction design, which wasn’t envisaged when much of the design community was formed.

Meanwhile, Richard Williams of Williams Murray Hamm is trying to convene a reunion of designers he studied with at the London College of Printing (now the London College of Communication) some 40 years ago. With Glenn Tutssel of The Brand Union, Keren House and The Partners co-founder Aziz Cami among that crew it promises to be a hell of a bash – so contact Williams if you were in that class and want to celebrate in London on 11 September.

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