Studio Visits: Uniform
Uniform is a Design and Innovation company based in Liverpool, founded in 1998 by three LJMU Product Design Course graduates: Nick Howe, Nick Bentley and Pete Thomas, with a vision of building a great business doing ground-breaking work. In 20 years, they’ve now grown to a team of over 60 with offices in both Liverpool and London working with brands like Primark, Mitre, Carlsberg and Unilever. As though that wasn’t enough, they even designed the Royal Mint’s official coin to celebrate Team GB’s participation in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Jeez!
Their Liverpool studio is quietly tucked away on the top floor of a building on Bold Street, one of Liverpool’s most iconic and busiest streets. As you walk through the double doors of the studio you’re welcomed with a beautifully designed, open environment with a few unique additions like a climbing wall. We spend some time with Marketing and PR Manager, Melinda Welch, to find out more about the team, their work, and the Uniform culture.
“Nick, Nick, and Pete began the business with a foray into furniture design, launching their own furniture range at 100% Design and designing Mixmag’s club interior of the year – landing them in Design Week’s ones to watch,” explains Melinda. “Uniform has come a long way in 20 years though… We now do everything from design to digital to creative tech to architectural visualisation. ”
Imagining the impossible is in Uniform’s DNA; year after year they’re releasing new innovations and encouraging their clients to do the same. “We work with brands from Amtico to SOM to Medela to Bedrock Gin and everything in between! No matter what we’re working on, we try to find the sweet spot where technology, human behaviour, and creativity meet…with the ultimate goal of creating meaningful change for our clients.”“ We have a great diversity of roles within the organisation: CG artists, designers, strategists, film-makers, developers, writers, project managers - and we all have one thing in common: a passion to deliver ground-breaking work.”
They don’t just dabble in innovation for their clients though… A healthy curiosity from their product design days still lives on in the form of their internal research and development projects. Last year they created Solo, an emotional radio to herald in the future of a friendlier, more playful Artificial Intelligence. “Through exploring the creative, interpretive and emotional potential of AI, Solo connected us to our emotions through mood inspired radio, utilizing Spotify’s emotional valence ratings.” Prior to that, they created Grip, an internet-enabled virtual coaching experience starring British Bouldering Champion Shauna Coxsey to explore how virtual reality and the Internet of Things “can work together to grow grassroots sports.”
Uniform stands to be one of Liverpool’s most sought-after agencies and we’re not at all surprised… As well as producing beautiful work, they have also made a point to create an environment that encourages diversity and inclusion. “We have grown quickly over the last four years and now employ over 60 people across our Liverpool and London locations. Diversity is very important to us – over 40% of our workforce are women, including one at board level and six in senior management. We also employ people from all over the world – we can now count 13 different nationalities within the business. This brings an exciting mix of cultures and attitudes to our work – ultimately allowing us to be more creative!”
Finding people to join their team who are eager to explore complex problems seems to be what makes up the fabric of Uniform. “The team are an incredible bunch of problem solvers. We have a great diversity of roles within the organisation: CG artists, designers, strategists, film-makers, developers, writers, project managers – and we all have one thing in common: a passion to deliver ground-breaking work,” Melinda explains.“ Our Postcard Player, which used paper and conductive ink to start conversations about the progress from physical to digital, was nominated for the Design Museum's Design of the Year awards in 2013 – a huge honour.”
What is it that drives the team to continue to be the forward-thinking company that they are? Well, they recognise that they must put “professional and personal well-being at the forefront”. In 2015 they established a Culture Team, who drive the cultural values of the business and facilitate their inspirational and social initiatives.
With nearly 20 years under their belt, picking out their highlights as an agency was bound to be tricky but we couldn’t resist asking. “Our Postcard Player, which used paper and conductive ink to start conversations about the progress from physical to digital, was nominated for the Design Museum’s Design of the Year awards in 2013 – a huge honour,” she reflects.
“We also worked with the City Council and Liverpool Vision to create a dedicated pavillion for the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, which was the largest ever held. We were the only UK city with a dedicated pavilion, and it drew on the unique heritage, culture and people of Liverpool -and drew around 4,000 people a day for 6 months!” Melinda continues, “More recently we worked with the iconic brand Mitre Sports International to redesign and bring back their famous Delta football from the 90’s…and return it to the global stage where it belongs.” But perhaps one of their proudest achievements? “Our growth! Between 2012 and 2015 we doubled the size of our staff from 25 to 50 due to increased demand for our services.”“ We’re an ambitious company with plans to continue our rapid growth.”
And they’re not stopping there, we ask them what’s on the horizon for Uniform. “We’re an ambitious company with plans to continue our rapid growth,” says Melinda. “Winning awards for our creative work, and pushing design boundaries through R&D.” Sounds like another exciting 20 years ahead for Uniform.