designstudio founders ben wright (left) and paul stafford (right)




founded five years ago by designers ben wright and paul stafford, designstudio is a global brand and design agency with offices in the creative hubs of london and san francisco. they have worked with clients such as microsoft, nokia and most recently airbnb. designboom spoke to paul stafford to learn more about their work and influences.



designboom: please could you tell us briefly about the evolution of designstudio?


paul stafford: ben and I have known each other since we were sixteen years old. we met at art college and later moved to london together to begin our careers in design.


after coming to london in 2000, both of us spent time working at other agencies and brands. after a while we noticed a gap in the industry with studios either focusing on large clients and often ending up more focused on strategy rather than design or being boutique with beautiful design work but with a small client base.


we founded designstudio in 2009 to bridge that gap, to deliver great work to top brands at the standard and quality of small boutique agencies.



airbnb identity – logo




airbnb identity – website




airbnb identity – logo keychain




DB: how do your skills compliment or contrast with ben’s?


PS: we’re actually very similar and share the same beliefs about the principles of good design and putting design back at the forefront of the rebrand process. the fact that our views are so aligned was the main reason that designstudio was founded and is growing strong today.



DB: how do you divide / share the workload?


PS: I’ve been over in san francisco for the last six months setting up our new studio. it’s an exciting time as we are working with many clients based in the united states. the studios are very much an extension of each other and this gives us the opportunity to work across multiple time zones.


day-to-day we have really strong creative teams working over multiple disciplines including digital design, print, motion, and retouching. these are led by our two executive creative directors james greenfield and ian styles who oversee all creative projects.



nokia mix radio identity – logo




nokia mix radio identity – brand elements




nokia mix radio identity – advertising




DB: what ‘rules of thumb’ should one remember when it comes to brand identity?


PS: creativity should be at the heart of everything, they need to be creative thinkers and able to use their design skills to translate that creative thinking into beautiful concepts. consideration of how an idea will translate over different medias is important, as often the creative work needs to work over many platforms.



DB: what do you enjoy most about creating brand identities?


PS: again it’s all about raising the bar and pushing boundaries. we don’t want to create something that is just ‘okay’. it needs to be thought provoking and insightful to really reflect the brand.




nokia asha 230 identity – asha motion app




the asha motion app showcases the touchscreen and interactive features of the nokia asha 230




using a very simple set up of a laptop and a kinect asha motion could be used as an interactive experience




DB: what are your thoughts on specialization vs generalization?


PS: individuals will always have a specialty, but good creative thinkers should be able to understand many creative processes. the answer to a problem shouldn’t be prescribed by an individual’s (or agency’s) specialty. our view is to find the best, most imaginative answer and if we don’t have the right specialist for the job then we find them to work with us.




DB: how do you make sure you are able to get useful and insightful feedback from a client?


PS: we only work in collaboration with our clients, it’s never an ‘us’ and ‘them’ situation. they are often found working out of our studios or us working out of theirs’. by building this type of relationship we are able to grow and learn with each other.



nokia uusi magazine




nokia uusi magazine




nokia uusi magazine




DB: have any projects changed your outlook on design?


PS: the key lesson wasn’t from a project in particular, rather from understanding the industry in general and what clients really wanted. before founding designstudio we would often sit in meetings with clients where the creative idea wasn’t being conveyed correctly by the numerous account managers in charge. we learned that design and designers should play a much larger role in the entire process.



DB: what’s been your most satisfying project to date?


PS: over the years we’ve worked on a number of amazing projects for some great innovative brands such as microsoft, nokia and of course airbnb. all of these projects have helped shape who we are as a studio and allowed us to grow and develop new skills and departments. 



DB: what’s designstudio’s motto?


PS: through creativity anything is possible. this shapes everything we do.