A new dawn: Inside the Moving Brands studio

Nestled in the heart of London, amid the hustle and bustle of Shoreditch, the Moving Brands studio is a hive of activity once more. After many months of working behind screens from home, the UK team has enthusiastically returned to work — and socialise — together in person. Here, studio manager Agnes Vane shares a little of what goes on behind the scenes at the HQ that has been our home for almost 25 years.

A team inspired

It’s been an exciting few months, with the London team involved in some fascinating and meaningful projects. Our talented team of designers, strategists and writers have worked with partners including Sanitation & Water for All, The Gym Group, Grant Thornton, Topshop and the BBC, to name a few.

Our creative director, Hector Pottie, a regular in the studio, said: “Being back in the studio allows the intangible magic of serendipity. The ability to inspire and be inspired by the other members of the team around us. It allows us to more genuinely work as a team, both formally and informally.”

Topshop rebrand 2022

A forge for ideas

The Moving Brands team loves a chance to jam creatively with other challenging, inventive and imaginative minds and being in the studio, in person, allows us to do just that.

We have been a creative partner of the BBC for several years and collaborated on many interesting projects. These have varied from holding ideation workshops and immersion days with experts and guest speakers, hosting the BBC team in the studio and working alongside their designers on various projects.

Among the latest of these in-person sessions was the BBC Beeb project, which saw our team work alongside the BBC’s Voice & UI, Marketing and Audience and UX&D teams to design a brand identity for ‘Beeb’ — the world’s first public service AI assistant.

We brought Beeb’s persona to life by developing a stand-out visual and audio identity that sets them apart from any other AI assistant. The result is a memorable and unique AI interface that is unmistakably BBC.

We also welcomed team members from Grant Thornton to the studio for a series of ideation workshops. They joined our designers for a full day of creative exploration to refine the possible routes for their brand evolution phase. Through a series of exercises, we refined three creative routes to take to the next stage for further development.

This was a highly collaborative process where the team could discuss options and present key concepts — and it’s not just the chance to bounce ideas around with our partners and clients that makes the return to studio life such a popular move.

“Being in and belonging to a ‘studio’ helps us feel a bigger sense of group purpose and togetherness,” says Hector. “I believe a studio fosters a more human way of working, and can help us uncover and produce more interesting outcomes and work for our clients.”

BBC Beeb

A new chapter

Since reopening, the studio has a different feel to it. As a team, we’re making a conscious effort to create connections with each other. We’ve been holding regular studio breakfasts and lunches to share current project work or new ideas that have sparked an interest. This has given us the chance to champion our creative output and take notes from the incredible work produced across the wider industry.

“Returning to the studio has meant we can actually print, sketch and stick things on the wall again. Seeing other projects develop around you and talking something through in a physical space really contributes to the work we do,” says designer Anya Mooney.

Moving Brands has also been getting involved with the community, supporting local restaurants and buying sustainably from the small business owners on our doorstep.

Our team wouldn’t survive long without our neighbours Origin coffee, in particular, manager Ben, who has kept us well stocked as we plough through over 1 kg of their gorgeous blend each fortnight!

The pandemic taught us many things, primarily that personal life and work should be balanced, so introducing our Summer Fridays was heartily embraced by the team. We wanted to offer our folks the opportunity to explore new passions and kick off the weekend early.

Looking ahead into autumn and the new year, we will be launching Moving Brands Talks — inviting guest speakers recommended by our team to run workshops and sessions on topics ranging from game design and illustration to mental health and film photography.

The team sharing recent project work in the studio.

Fresh energy

For the past year, the studio has been going through an exciting renovation to the interior, involving months of back and forth on paint samples, flooring, kitchen surfaces, lights, soft furnishings and blinds.

As sustainability is at the heart of everything we do, from the partners we work with to the products and services we use, it’s been a real process to ensure we used only sustainable materials and fibres throughout the refurb.

We didn’t want to change the feel of the studio, just freshen it up and bring in new materials and energy. Small changes to rejuvenate the space, while retaining the little relics of history you can find dotted around that tell a story dating back to 19th century London.

A step back in time

The concept of design may have evolved over the years, but Shoreditch has always been the home of craftsmanship. In the 1900s, the proximity to the City and the lower rent made it a sought-after area of the capital, with trades of all descriptions moving across to set up warehouses and shopfronts.

In Charlotte Road alone, there was an array of trades, including tailors, shoe and boot makers, ironmongers and oil and colour warehouses. But the three main trades in Shoreditch were furniture manufacturing, clothing and printing.

Storytellers, artists, actors and creatives from all walks of life flocked here to live, work and seek inspiration — much the same as today!

Old Street 1926
The London music hall — Shoreditch High St — 1896

The story continues

The Moving Brands studio itself has had many character changes throughout the years, ranging from a merchant warehouse to a block of flats with separate bedsits on each floor. Our founders, Ben Wolstenholme, Guy Wolstenholme and Jim Bull, moved into the building in 1998, with barely any furniture or equipment but a shared love of using design and technology to tell compelling stories. A passion that’s been woven into the fabric of the studio through every project we have worked on over the past 24 years.

In 2023, Moving Brands will mark 25 years of business, a huge milestone for the team. We look forward to celebrating the many fantastic projects, pioneering partnerships and great friendships that have been forged in this very studio over the past two-and-a-half decades.

Beyond that? As well as plenty more fun playing around with cool stuff, we see a huge opportunity — and responsibility — to be a conscious part of the change the world so urgently needs, and which we truly believe is achievable if we work together to design a better future for all.

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