Imagination’s creative group head Alex Ritchie is leaving at the end of the month to help a European entertainments-based venture set up offices in London and Los Angeles. He is believed to be teaming up with Berlin group Arthesia to form an international competitor to Imagination.
Ritchie confirms his new role will be as creative and art director of a Los Angeles group, to be formed with an existing events and branding consultancy from Europe. Ritchie declines to name the European group until it is ready to launch in the US.
Meanwhile, Arthesia has opened a London office to service its clients Audi and Volkswagen.
Former Imagination production co-ordinator and designer Owen Snee joined Arthesia last month as operations and technical director for the London office. He says that current Imagination staff are among those in line to work for a Los Angeles office planned by the group, but he declines to reveal names.
Staff at Arthesia in Berlin also confirm plans to open an initially six-strong Californian office.
Ritchie has been at Imagination since 1991, working for clients such as Disney, and on projects including the original proposals for the Millennium Dome in Greenwich. “It was a difficult decision to leave Imagination as I have enjoyed my years here and I’ll miss the creative buzz. But, I’m excited by the new challenge, and working in the US will give me a new perspective on international design,” he says. “America is still the home of branding,” he adds.
Ritchie’s on-going projects will be overseen by Imagination creative director Adrian Caddy. In the longer term his position is expected to be filled by minor management reshuffles within the group, says an Imagination spokeswoman.
Snee says Arthesia works on similar projects to Imagination, but aims to create more permanent structures.