Fivefootsix is a branding and design agency based in London. We had some questions for Co-Founder, Algy Batten.
Why do you think it’s important to look at clients as partnerships?
Because essentially you’re both on the same team. It’s in the interest of both parties that the project is a success, and teamwork is the best way to get there.
Although, this isn’t actually as clear cut as it sounds, the actual goal of a project needs to be mutually agreed and shared. If an agency is looking purely for a portfolio piece and the client is looking for business success then that’s not properly being on the same team. Therefore the closer you can get to a true partnership the better. The laws have changed recently about the IP ownership of design work and this may help designers really feel part of the success of projects. Although I think this change in the culture and thinking of this industry will take a long time…
“Teamwork is the best way to get there.”
On your website you have some wonderful illustrations about the importance of working together. Why do you believe in this approach and have you always approached design this way?
Designers can be sensitive souls and we’ve always found that creativity flourishes better in an open and supportive environment. So we encouraged this type of culture within the studio, and both myself and Mark (my co-founder) were really passionate about this. So naturally after time it extended out to how we liked to work with clients and it became our thing. All our best work has been achieved when the client relationship has been collaborative.
Do you pay attention to design trends?
We pride ourselves on our work not being trend driven. But that doesn’t mean that trends should be ignored, a designer ought to have a natural interest in what’s going on around them.
Do you think social media presence is important for a design studio?
I read somewhere that a company’s Instagram page is more important than their website these days. Whether that’s entirely true or not, it does suggest how important it has become. But I think what you need to consider is who your social media audience is and does it reflect your potential client base. From a new business point of view I don’t think it’s been hugely important for us. But in terms with having a dialogue with the design community, in particular young design talent, I think it’s really useful. A successful design agency needs to appeal to the latest talent to keep themselves relevant.
What Fivefootsix project are you most proud of?
That’s a really tough call.
If you’re talking client work it’s really there are so many other factors in the process other than the final design; how we developed the client’s thinking about their own business, how much we progressed their design approach over time, the longevity of the relationship and so on…
But if it’s a true Fivefootsix initiated project I love our new website, developed with our digital partners Roll and I’m proud that over the years we’ve produced our own publications. But probably the Fivefootsix project that has been the most successful is The Art of Ping Pong.
“We started The Art of Ping Pong in 2013 as it was a good opportunity for us to support one of our longstanding clients, BBC Children in Need.”
You invest a lot of time into studio projects, noticeably The Art of Ping Pong, which donates the proceeds to charity. Tell us about that project and how it started and what it has achieved?
We started The Art of Ping Pong in 2013 as it was a good opportunity for us to support one of our longstanding clients, BBC Children in Need. The project culminates in an exhibition, and a publication, of bespoke ping pong bats featuring artworks by twenty-one of the most exciting, influential, established and emerging illustrators from around the world. The artworks are auctioned off online and the profits go to BBC Children in Need.
The last two years has seen us work with artists like Hattie Stewart, Camille Walala, Crispin Finn and Jean Jullien.
This year we’ve got another great line up of artists involved, including Craig & Karl, Kate Forrester, Malika Favre, Marion Deuchars, Noma Bar, Supermundane and Anthony Burrill to name only a few.
We’ve also teamed up with The Cass working with their illustration students, helping them with putting on their own exhibition and auction, and we’ve invited one lucky student to be part of our main exhibition.
Our digital partners Roll have developed an app especially for us this year, so there’s a lot to be excited about.
Our exhibition hosts this year are KK Outlet in Hoxton Square. The exhibition launches on Thursday 5 November from 7-9pm, I think Anthony Burrill may even DJ for the event so it’s not to be missed!
If you can’t make the event, or the exhibition which runs until 25 November, then please check out theartofpingpong.co.uk and bid on one of the artworks soon!