Soho Soho caught up with some of the UNIT Studios Design Collective team in their new Berners Mews studio to hear from each on what inspires them to design and create, who they follow on IG, what galleries / exhibitions to check out and what latest highlights they’ve been proud to be a part of.
In this week's edition we start by showcasing TOM WANSBROUGH-JONES - Creative Director & Head of Design Collective
Tell us a bit about UNIT’s Design Collective and what makes it unique?
UNIT Design Collective is UNIT Studios very own in-house creative studio, developed to concept, direct and execute work across the studios core design and animation capabilities.
How long have you been heading things up there and what changes have been made to the collective?
It’ll be 2 years now in July that I moved across from The Mill to head up the UNIT Collective. My main focus since I’ve been here is to bring in new talent capable of concepting and delivering an idea from the very start to finish of any particular project.
Our industry has become so competitive over the last ten years, so it felt like we needed to adapt the way in which we approached any piece of work. With every brief that comes in, we always look to see how we can push it creatively.
One of our big recent changes was to move to our new building on Berners Mews at the beginning of this year. We now have a bigger, more open Design floor to work from, with more capability to upscale the team when needed for bigger projects.
We also commissioned a graffiti artist from Broken Fingaz to come over from Israel and paint the walls of our Design Collective space (images above - before the floor was uncovered and desks were all put in) so it feels very unique and inspiring to walk into the office every morning.
What inspires you to design and create?
The people who sit around me. I try to create an environment that feels equal no matter what level you might be at. Our young talent always have an insight into the latest techniques and new visual styles. I’m constantly trying to get us all to review each other’s work to see how it can be pushed.
I’m also a big fan of a title sequence, so this always plays a part in what I’m influenced by. One of my favourite places to spend time on is the website, The Art Of The Title, which has so many great titles along with features about how they were made. I always find myself referencing the work of Patrick Clair, he’s got such an eye for detail. I couldn’t name a favourite as there are so many...right now, ‘The Night Manager’ is the first to come to mind. I love the clever transitions from one scene to the next.
What was the last exhibition you went to see?
I went to see ‘Another Funny Turn’ down at Block 336 on its first day of opening. A space that I’d never been to before so was great to go and check it out. In fact when I arrived I was the only one there so made the whole experience very surreal due to the installations in each room. I then got chatting to one of the artists, Harriet Fleuiot, to explain her interpretation of the exhibition which was really interesting. I love her visual representations of nature always taking back our man made creations.
Tell us about your personal design style
Incorporating typography with photographic imagery is always something I’m fascinated by. I think this all started when David Carson’s ‘The End of Print’ and ‘2nd Sight’ came out whilst I was studying Typography and Moving Image at The London College of Printing. The way in which he deconstructs typography and image has always grabbed my attention.
I love trying to construct a composition of type and image, and then have the challenge of how it animates on and off screen. Again I’m always influenced by title sequences I see.
Are there any current design styles you are keen on?
I love the work of illustrators, Malika Favre and Thomas Danthony. Their clever use of negative space, bold colours and contemporary design always inspires me. It’s not the style of work I would naturally create myself, but that doesn’t mean I’m not influenced by it.
How do you guys ensure new design talent joins the collective?
I have a great relationship with Ravensbourne college. They have so much young talent coming out of their Motion Design course, so I’m constantly trying to get people in the studio for internships. In fact, 3 of my full time Motion Designers are all from Ravensbourne. I did my art foundation at St Martins and degree at LCC, so I’am looking to connecting with both at the upcoming degree shows to see all of the new talent moving into the industry.
Is there any work you’re really proud of?
Project Everyone was a great piece for us as a team. I think everyone had a part in it from concepting, design and animation from beginning to end. It felt good to be involved in something which has a very important subject matter. With a limited budget and not much time, we had to make the most use of how we told this story, complementing the visuals to the script in an engaging way.
View the project here:
Read more about UNIT's new offices here: