Tour de Playgroup

So the Tour de France 2014 is over; from the grandest of Grand Départs in le Yorkshire, to the frankly bonkersness of the Hautacam climb, this year’s Tour has been compulsive viewing and has captured the British imagination like never before. Of course; after Wiggins didn’t start, Froome crashed out on stage five and Alberto Contador broke his leg on Col du Platzerwasel, Vincenzo Nibail’s dominance has been inspiring to watch, but if you can feel the withdrawal systems kicking in already, fear not, because the Tour de Playgroup is less than eight weeks away. (more…)

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Work Experience at Playgroup

My week had started out by staring at the greenery and trees turn into skyscrapers, on the train. I’m born and bred in East Devon (much to my dismay as a teenager) so London was going to be a different style of living for me. The thoughts running through my head were ones of worry and excitement; the UK’s capital is one of my favorite cities so I couldn’t wait to be commuting in it. But, sitting on that train I was asking myself if maybe 15 was too young for what I had set out to do? Was it a too bigger jump from my sleepy village? (more…)

Digital Revolution Installation At The Barbican Centre

Digital Revolution

It’s a digital revolution at the Barbican and we went along and had a look. Digital has come a long way since young Matt designed his first graphics with a Mac Colour classic 25 years ago. We now have lasers left right and centre, movement tracking cameras, 3D projection mapping, the world wide web, fibre broadband and phones that would have been capable of launching a man to the Moon in the late 60′s to name a few. (more…)


Employability – it’s not just about qualifications

We have had some fantastically ambitious and creative young interns in the studio recently – all benefitting from the rich and varied work experience on offer here at Playgroup. Like all good agencies, we’re committed to giving design students the opportunity to expand their horizons and experience the pressures of the commercial world in a busy and stimulating environment. Our designers are experienced mentors. They’ve all been through a creative education (some more recently than others) and understand the challenges faced by students and recent graduates. Consistently we’re told that life in an agency is completely different to the art school environment. Hopefully they leave with a better perspective of what life at work is really like.



The World Cup!

The World Cup is well and truly underway, England have been and gone, Robin Van Persie, James Rodriguez and Tim Cahill have all scored stunners, Suarez has bitten someone else and Spain forgot how to play football, we’re loving it. We recently received this beautiful World Cup wall chart from our friends at Team Karoshi, the World Cup is a great excuse to wheel out a nice a bit of graphic design so we decided to go looking for more. We found loads, so here are a few of our favourites plus a few classics.



Design at play

Yesterday I popped next door to have a nose around the Clerkenwell Design Week exhibition in the Farmiloe Building. Playfulness in furniture, object design and interior accessories has been a trend for some time, but this year tops it all. A chair is no longer just a chair to sit on, a cable organiser isn’t just doing it’s job and who said that a table top has to be flat?! Objects no longer simply serve a purpose, they are here to entertain and they are full of attitude. They surround us and reflect our personalities. Some try a little too hard but others just get it right. The rule is that there isn’t one. Anything goes really. A mix of different materials and finishes, flat colours, gradients, patterns etc. All very tactile and sensory and a joy to behold.



Banging the Drum for Playgroup

We’re really pleased to have been classified an Elite agency after being ranked 12th by The Drum in the Drum Design Census 2014. The Design Census comprises three polls measuring financial performance, client satisfaction and peer recognition.

We are incredibly proud of this achievement which marks a successful year for Playgroup both in new business wins, ongoing client work and the opening of our new office in Lymington, Hampshire.


Two Weeks at Playgroup — Not a finger-painting in sight

Travelling up to London on route to Playgroup design studio was an apprehensive experience for me. My studies as a year three Graphic Design student would be tested as I undertook a two-week placement in the studio. I feel like I should be more prepared for the experience, confident that my studies will help me out in every way, shape and form. But, as I got closer and closer to Liverpool Street station I started to question myself. “What if they don’t like me?” “Will they trust me to design?” and, the one that runs through most student’s heads, “Am I good enough?”



Secret 7”s: Virtuous Vinyl

Ask any designer or illustrator about their dream brief and quite a few would gladly offer up their right eyeball to design a record cover for an established artist. We are, therefore, super-excited to have two contributors to this year’s Secret 7”s amongst our ranks. (more…)

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United Visual Artists: Momentum

United Visual Artists’ ‘Momentum’ project comprises a series of 12 objects that slowly oscillate in the dark void of the Barbican Curve Gallery’s space. The installation is based on the idea of Foucault’s pendulum, an instrument designed to visualise invisible forces, such as the Earth’s rotation.



Big Ideas, Beautifully Made

‘Big Ideas, beautifully made’ a combination every creative person aspires to.

Creative industry events like Glug offer us creatives a chance to see other sides of the industry that we may not see regularly, whether it be 3D printing, moving image or something more exotic. We aren’t just there to see showreel after showreel of work we already know, we are there to get a real insight, to learn something, to be inspired…



Mobile App vs Mobile Website

Last week a mobile app made the news, when Dong Nguyen of .GEARS Studio in Vietnam removed his fiendishly difficult game Flappy Bird (with over 50 million downloads) from online stores due to it’s addictive nature. It’s not just independent developers like Nguyen that successfully publish apps, all kinds of different organisations do so, and for a multitude of different reasons. Perhaps as a PR tool, to reach a specialised market, or utility apps designed to increase brand engagement. Whatever their objective, organisations are increasingly looking at building their mobile presence and often a mobile app seems like the obvious choice.


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Playgroup joins the DBA

Playgroup have recently become members of the Design Business Association (DBA) – the trade organisation for the UK design industry. The DBA has a remit to promote professional excellence and to build productive partnerships between commerce and the design industry. The end goal is to champion effective design that improves the quality of people’s lives. (more…)

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Playgroup – with a view of the sea

Our studio is situated in the centre of one of the most creative parts of London – and therefore the world. We feed off the buzz of Clerkenwell and embrace the many opportunities the area offers us to network and collaborate with like-minded people.


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Happy birthday Mac – from Creatives everywhere

Last Friday was the 30th anniversary of the Apple Macintosh. Over the past 30 years the Mac has become an iconic and indispensable part of the creative tool box. If you’re a graphic designer, filmmaker, photographer or illustrator you almost certainly work on, or have worked on, a Mac, but how and why did the Mac become the designer’s computer of choice?



So long and thanks for all the tabs

The amount of time I spend closing tabs these days is getting ridiculous, honestly.

Is it that I don’t find the content interesting? Maybe it’s not what I was actually looking for? Or maybe it’s the, quite frankly disappointing, lack of animals ready to amuse me for 5 mins while InDesign ponders creating a PDF sometime between now and the rapture.

No, it’s none of those things.1 (more…)

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comparing prices online

It’s shopping Jim, but not as we knew it

This time next month we will all be awaiting the Christmas retail numbers. It’s probably the one time of year when retail news makes the headlines and as always there will be winners and there will be losers. One thing that is certain is that the winners will be those retailers that have understood just how quickly and drastically the retail landscape is changing. (more…)

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A winning tittle!

The beers were flowing and the beards were growing at the annual Graphic Design Pub Quiz last night. It’s the grudge match of the year, pitting a dozen teams of design freaks and type geeks against each other in a battle of huge insignificance. (more…)

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“Bat’s Wings” are 60 years old

As I was getting ready for work this morning I was half watching BBC breakfast, while simultaneously spooning porridge into my 2 year old and straightening my hair! There was a feature on the BBC idents, which are unbelievably 60 years old today! Starting with a circle on a white backdrop they have evolved through globes and balloons to the ‘Circles’ we see today. (more…)

Playgroup Braun Poster

Brains behind the Braun

We are pleased to have recently contributed a poster design for inclusion in an exhibition on Braun design – alongside 33 other international design studios including; Experimental Jetset, Spin, Hey Studio and Bibliothéque. Under the title ’systems’ the brief was very open, contributors were asked to respond to the systematic approach that Braun design became renowned for. The only stipulation being a set size, typeface and exhibition details. (more…)

10 Marketing Trends for 2014

Ten Trends for 2014

How will brands embrace new platforms? Will 2014 see a resurgence in print? Is there a role for the corporate brand? Can a responsive website really boost visitor numbers? Discover ten trends that are likely to sweep the industry over the coming year.

1. Brand Utility

Brand Utility is about services, not messages, it’s a whole new model of branding that’s no longer about reach and frequency but instead seeks to embed brands in our everyday lives. Brands are increasingly recognising that in order to earn people’s time and attention they need to give something useful.


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Mentor Me — One Year On

Its around this time of year that it all kicks off again with the MentorMe programme at the Colchester School of Art.

This year has seen a few changes, all for the better. Instead of running alongside the third year students studies in an external way, it is now intimately tied into the course. One of the great benefits of this is there is now accountability to ensure no one falls by the wayside.

It is a great opportunity to not only influence someones development (and provide a much needed industry experience for the student) but by being able to tap into the collective creativity of up-and-coming designers gives me, and the other mentors, great insight into new ideas and trends of the future.

As the programme really gets into gear I will be sharing the progress of my mentee, Georgina, and I will also be inviting her to contribute blog posts of her own.

And, after all is said and done, it’s still an excellent excuse to meet people whilst looking at some exciting work over a cold one in the SU.

You can see some of Georgina’s work on her tumblr, here

Photo by Peter Marano

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Ben & Jerry Camper Van

The end of the road for the classic VW Camper Van

Earlier in the year we designed a Ben & Jerry’s branded Camper Van for Unilever, so it was a sad day yesterday when I heard that after 63 years of happy camping, this iconic vehicle has been read it’s last rites. Brazil is the last country to still make the VW Camper Van, but the introduction of new safety regulations means production will have to stop at the end of the year.

A design classic synonymous with the hippy culture of the 60’s and early 70’s it was cool enough to feature on the cover of Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Owners would often repaint them in bright primary colours, others with psychedelic flower patterns.

Check out Camper Blog which has is a great collection of retro Camper Van ads over the past 60 years.