Every December, the entire office of design and branding agency SomeOne decamps from Shoreditch to another European city for a weekend of culture-spotting and debauchery. It’s the highlight of the year for a team that plays as it works: with vigour. “We’ve always said that we wanted to build a company where we really like everyone. Where we respect everyone. Where we’d be happy to have a night out with any one of them,” enthuses co-founder Simon Manchipp. “We’ve built that company.”
The key character trait they look for is affability: “Everyone here is incredibly talented, but there are no weirdos,” explains Simon. “Some very clever people can be spiky, tricky – even rude. We don’t do that here: there’s no tantrums, no freak outs. We argue, disagree, but in a civil, respectful way. And only to make things better.”
The result is an ego-free atmosphere where a sort of collegiate curiosity rules: “Even if we’re not [working] on a project, everyone’s keen to see what’s going on,” argues creative, Helen Altoungarian. “It’s always good to take on someone else’s comments.”
SomeOne juggles a client list ranging from tiny start-ups to Eurostar and the Royal Opera House. “It’s so diverse – you could be talking about coffee one day and airlines the next,” says junior creative Tom Dabner.
On a day-to-day basis they keep their mojo fresh by decamping to the pub or the park for brainstorming sessions. “You can usually tell work that’s been created by people just looking at a screen,” explains David.
Every so often, SomeOne gathers for sessions affectionately known as ‘Show and Pub’: five slides from each creative showing what they’ve been up to or things that have inspired them. Although David notes that the team is getting so big these are getting rather unwieldy. And as the event’s name suggests, these evenings usually end up – where else? – in the pub.
Every Monday at Bristol-based Taxi Studio starts the same way: a lively ‘show and tell’ session. The aim of this is to get the 23-strong team’s creative juices flowing. “It could be something that’s creatively inspired you, or it might be something you don’t like at all,” explains design director Olly Guise. “The debate around it can get quite involved.”
Joining the discussion is a core skill at Taxi. “You learn to voice your opinion,” says Luke Francis, a recent graduate. “It’s intimidating at first, but you learn not to be scared of having your ideas rejected. The more ideas you give away, you tend to discover they come back from other people.”
And these ideas can come up in the brainstorming sessions that kick-start each project – where no idea is too mad or too stupid – or just in the daily hubbub of life in a rather boisterous, open-plan studio space. “There’s nowhere to hide,” says design director Olly Guise. “It’s a very fun, lively place to be, but it can get raucous. Butting in is encouraged – we like to get out of our seats and take a look at what other people are working on.”
The flip side of this friendly nosiness is that designers don’t grapple with problems alone. “You can always go and talk to someone about it, and they will help you solve it – speaking to someone who’s not involved in the project can be a massive help,” says Luke. “And everyone tends to club together if someone’s snowed under.”
The studio aims to balance work for corporate clients such as Diageo and Coca-Cola with smaller commissions. “It’s often the smaller projects that can become quite experimental, and can sometimes involve almost all of us. It’s really rewarding – and it’s often those projects that have won us awards,” argues Olly.
This ability to balance big and small is winning dividends. The Monday that Digital Arts spoke to Olly and Luke, the studio’s show and tell was the best one yet. “With Taxi having secured some great new projects, the bubbly was opened for the brave few who could handle a morning Buck’s Fizz,” enthuses Luke.