James Hilton leaves AKQA to create products with “Victorian murderer chic” aesthetic

Co-founder of digital consultancy AKQA James Hilton is leaving to become founding partner of interior and product design company AtelierStrange, which will create objects with a “Victorian murderer chic” aesthetic.

James Hilton

His departure after 20 years as chief creative officer follows WPP’s acquisition of AKQA in 2012, which saw the conglomerate take a majority stake in the consultancy for £350 million. 

AtelierStrange’s online presence is just a holding page at this stage, but Hilton, who has founded the company with architect Darryl Amos, says that products in development include “a chest of drawers using sound sensors to unlock secret compartments and a dining set based on surgical amputation kits from the 1800s”.

The company is born out of frustration according to Hilton: “First, at the absence of objects that fit our particular Victorian murderer chic aesthetic” he says, “and secondly, from the belief that technology needn’t look technological, and can instead harmoniously integrate within an imperfect human quality – to not only be beautifully useful, but to also become magical.”

He adds: “Since I can remember, I have loved creating worlds. Building physical environments and the objects with which to fill them is the next logical step in my creative development.”

Atelier Strange

Meanwhile Rei Inamoto has been promoted to chief creative officer at AKQA, overseeing the work of the consultancy’s 14 global offices. Previously Inamoto was chief creative officer for the USA and Asia regions.

Hilton retains an ambassadorial role as chairman of the AKQA Alumni, which will involve taking part in special events and thought leadership to share ideas, maintain connections and provide mentoring for “the next generation” according to AKQA.

Duan Evans has been promoted to become International Executive Creative Director for Asia and South America at AKQA, while retaining his role for Europe.

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