Place Branding_Sign_890x546px

A place for identity

For much of my life I have lived in, or close to, the city of Southampton. As a kid growing up in the 70’s and 80’s we lived just a short ferry ride from the city centre – close enough for the sound of the foghorns to rattle our windows whenever the sea mist rolled in. I still live close by. It’s a place that I feel I know pretty well and it’s a place that has a lot going for it. (more…)


Soaring ahead of time…

Occasionally, someone designs something that is so ground-breaking, so leftfield, so far ahead of it’s time, that it is misunderstood, ridiculed or even discarded before it’s given a chance to shine. This is true in every creative discipline; in architecture, fashion, art, product design, the performing arts, music, car design, hair styling, cake decorating… and it’s true in branding.

Twenty years ago when British Airways made the undoubtedly audacious decision to move away from their quintessentially British tailfins to a series of striking, but seemingly unconnected ethnic patterns, reactions were polarised. (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.


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…



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?



“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…)

John Lewis TV Adverts The Bear and the Hare

It’s beginning it feel a lot like Christmas…

Today saw one of the momentous days of the season, no, not mince pies hitting the shelves (that happened weeks ago) no, today saw the unveiling of the John Lewis advert.

Going head to head with M&S these adverts now have their own press screenings, they last well over 2 minutes and are eagerly awaited. Famous faces, famous voices and even famous directors are all drafted to make the short films something to remember all year. The real aim here though is to make us spend more, double dip recession aside it is estimated that the Christmas revenue generated more than £1 billion in profits for John Lewis over the last 2 years. With profits down no doubt Marks and Spencer will hope for the same. And I’m going to make one prediction both Lily Allen and Keane will have a very Merry Christmas …


Map I – The Northern Sky

If you are at all interested in design (which should be safe to assume since you’re having a read of this blog) or if you like to have a gander at the night sky but never know what any of those pesky stars or constellations are called then this maybe your next poster based purchase. (more…)

Written by:

Damien Hirst, Tate Modern, That is all.

After first spotting the Damien Hirst’s Tate Modern exhibition poster on my way to the V&A I have had far to many distractions getting in the way of going but with only a few days remaining I went and it was, well it was what it was, that’s all you can say. Damien Hirst is an artist who splits opinion, I witnessed this from some American tourists, the mother of which asked my opinion on a piece to gauge why so many young people were interested in this particular exhibition.

Written by:

Popping up in King’s Cross

After doing a fair amount of work in, with and for King’s Cross it’s amazing to learn even more about it’s history in a format that stimulates my more illustrative side. Discovering King’s Cross- A Pop-Up Book by illustrator by Lucy Dalzell commissioned by the architects John Mcaslan + Partners act’s as a fantastic piece of promotional material for the team behind King’s Cross stations marvelous regeneration but doesn’t just look at King’s Cross station but at the Victorian engineering genius that helped fuel the “golden age” of british rail ways. This is all brought to life by Lucy’s fantastically textured illustrations and the joy that can only be brought from pop-up books. (more…)

Written by:

The Art of the Olympics

The Olympic Park in London may still be out of bounds for most of us, but the Art in the Park programme has now been unveiled, offering a glimpse of the 26 new arts installations that have been commissioned in celebration of the 2012 Games.” (more…)

Written by:

Irina Werning photographer

Steve recently pointed me in the direction of photographer Irina Werning where she takes old photographs and recreates them in situ with the same people often a number of decades later. It gives a really interesting insight that will raise a smile – check it out! (more…)

Written by:

Knit one, pearl one

Graffiti in London… yawn how 2010, nowadays its all about guerrilla knitting. Their prime objective is to enliven the dull city streets with a riot of colour – one stitch at a time. (more…)

Written by:

No fools or horses in Peckham

High rise council estates, rioting and burned out three wheelers. These are three things that people commonly associate with Peckham.

Art, conservation areas and cool bars, are three things that people don’t. But these are exactly the things I found on my recent trip to this South East London neighbourhood. (more…)

Written by:

Typography in Smithfield

Look what I missed!

Having been storming back and forth between the station, studio and other indiscriminate locations around the city I have only noticed recently that I’ve been missing some amazing old school typography just around the corner from the office – The former Port of London Authority cold store, Smithfield.

You see neon lettering, flashing LED’s and all other crazy shouting signage these days that it’s nice to have a piece of type that’s monstrously subtle.

Written by:

Type kerning game!

Test your kerning skills with this fun game

“Your mission is simple: achieve pleasant and readable text by distributing the space between letters. Typographers call this activity kerning.”

Written by:
ownacolour1 – help save a life

Dulux has teamed up with Unicef and launched a website where users can buy one of the 16.7 million colours that a smartphone can display. By donating at least £1 you can put your name against a colour of your choice or donate one to a friend. All the money goes directly to helping transform childrens lives.

Written by: