Airside to close after 14 years

Leading London design agency Airside has announced that it's to close its doors in March 2012 after 14 years. While the team will be working hard until that date, founders Alex Maclean, Nat Hunter and Fred Deakin will then be heading off onto separate ventures.

Airside was founded in 1998 by the trio. Initially working on a lot of music-related projects – perhaps unsurprisingly as Fred is one half of ambient house act Lemon Jelly – the studio has grown and branched out into all forms of media, producing always-charming and often colourful projects for clients from the BBC and Coca-Cola to Vodaphone and White Cube Gallery. They managed to acquire a wide array of accolades, including two BAFTA nominations, one Cannes Lion Grand Prix and one Gold award, and 11 D&AD nominations/in book.

To kill suggestions that the trio were folding the firm for financial reasons - or because they're sick of working with each other - they released this statement:

 "For the record, we aren't going bust, in fact we're currently thriving. We haven't fallen out with each other, in fact we're as close as we ever were. What has happened is that after 14 years of working together, we have grown into different people with different goals. Despite all of our best efforts we can't see a way for Airside to move forward and accommodate all of our individual ambitions. You could put it down to musical differences if you like!

"The world has changed enormously since we started in 1998 and we hope that we've been part of that change. We were lucky enough to be the first of a certain kind of design company that now feels like the norm. New paradigms are emerging and as individuals we want to explore them in a way that Airside is currently unable to. Our influence has been clear on a generation of creative practitioners and that makes us feel good; it also feels like our work here is done.

"We feel that it is completely true to the unique spirit of Airside to end the company as friends and to end it on a high. We'll be making an announcement as to our individual future plans nearer to March 2012 when we close, and there will of course be a party to mark our closing. Between now and then we'll be focused as always creating amazing work for our clients and ourselves - this is the last chance for us to work together as Airside. Although we definitely plan to collaborate in future, and don't bet against a re-union tour in 2022! And of course the spirit of Airside will live on in the shape of our Tokyo branch Airside Nippon, which will continue to trade as usual.

"Voluntarily choosing to end Airside has been one of the toughest decisions we've ever made, but it also feels completely right. We've loved every minute of working together and feel like we created a truly unique company that completely fulfilled all the dreams that we had back in 1998: maybe that's why it feels OK to end it now. When we see the inspiration and positive impact we believe we've had on the creative world we are very proud. Sniff! We'll all really miss Airside."

(L-R) Fred Deakin, Alex Maclean and Nat Hunter in the early years of Airside

The team as they are today

The firm has also released a brief list of their favourite and most notable projects and achievements over the years.

Early Years:

  • Jam Tokyo-London website for the Barbican – quirky interface – our first award winner
  • The Airside T-shirt Club and Airside Shop – one of the first design companies to make and sell our own products
  • Lots of art gallery websites: Serpentine, White Cube, Hayward
  • Impotent Fury club night at the 333 – the Wheel of Destiny
  • Lemon Jelly – a project where we could design every aspect of the campaign and have complete artistic freedom
  • Nice Weather For Ducks video – a big hit – still gets referenced to this day (eg Simply Health ads!)
  • 64-95 – an hour long animated DVD – our animation boot camp.

Growing Up:

  • The Dot Com Refugees – toys for Japan – a dream project
  • T-shirts for films – Battle Royale and Shaun Of The Dead
  • Surf posters and ads – our first advertising award winner
  • Orange idents – winning best in show at the Design Week awards
  • Working with Greenpeace – balancing our advertising work!
  • Mastercard – a global airport billboard campaign and a big award winner
  • Japan – exhibitions and client work – a mutual love affair.


  • Live Earth movies – full narrative animation
  • Pet Shop Boys website – big award winner – invented Twitter (!)
  • Beatles video – a great honour
  • No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency – our second BAFTA nomination – again, a great honour
  • Virgin Atlantic In Flight Entertainment system – a huge job, massive innovation, fantastic client response.



  • One of the first companies to work across all media
  • Evolved a unique vector / flat colour style that has spread globally
  • Combined strong aesthetics with depth of thinking
  • Created and integrated powerful narratives into our work
  • Embraced green and ethical values
  • HAD FUN!

While we're sad to see the team behind an endless supply of inspirational work splitting up, we're excited to see what the team get up to next.

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