The agency scene is flourishing in East London with several big start ups and a new resurgence in the design scene. What makes Hackney such a proponent of art, design and creativity?
Long term Hackney designer and founder of one of the best design agencies in Hackney, Gresty of Mr Gresty, says; “The answer is in Hackney's recent history and evolving character. The Hackney of today seems to have a face lift every few months. Rents have increased, forcing a lot of creatives out of the borough, but as an area of London it remains visually stimulating.”
Gresty started out designing in Hackney in 2000 Hackney, he says; “By then the area was full of independent creative studios and artists. Much satirised, by the time Nathan Barley aired in 2005 (sitcom by Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker) most of the interesting characters had already moved on. In 2010 YouTube video 'Being a Dickhead's Cool’ seemed to introduced another wave of ever changing corporate design agencies, cafés and boutiques.”
Much of longevity seems to come from its fluidity, lack of traditional structure and its ability to be flexible, survivalist and evolving, Gresty says; “Creativity flourishes wherever there is wifi and lots of creatives are working out of flats and cafés. I see the borough as an area of start-ups, pop-ups, new products, gigs, markets… and all of these want a brand creating or illustrations. Hackney is full of shared studio spaces and the benefit is being around like minded people and visual stimulus.”
So, outside the arts themselves who benefits from the areas communal originality and innovation?
In 2016 Nike opened a textile studio which acts as a laboratory to explore new ways of using textiles in sportswear. It opened in Hackney with the remit of researching and developing new fabrics and more advanced textiles. John Hoke, Nike's vice president of global design, says "It's funny, we just hacked into a sweater machine and thought, what if we hacked it and didn't make a sweater? And put different threads in? And elastics? How would that feel?" Designers at Nike's new Hackney studio are carrying on this experimental approach to material development. Hoke says, "We've hired a bunch of designers using digital tools, hacking these machines and giving us these samples."
Gresty says it is a flourishing, buoyant and ever-changing scene; “There are enough designers to go around and with every summer graduation thousands of new creatives enter the market.”
Top 5 Best design agencies in Hackney
Mr Gresty Studio – Top bloke with brilliant ideas and attentive honest service creating original work. Small and pretty much perfectly formed
Hey Big Man – Fast paced busy design studio focused intently on client work, and working with everyone from big brands like Capital radio to identities for start ups
Moving Brands – Uber cool global agency with offices around the globe and peddling a smart futuristic vibe
Spinach Agency – minimalist, iconic classic design with a specialism in the delicious realm of fine wine, food and drink
The Hackney creative collective – Unfettered direct access to brilliant freelance designers without all the hassle of employing an agency.
It’s Nice That – eclectic curation and review of all things design in Hackney and beyond. A must have resource
Invest in Hackney – Chamber style hub bringing together all Hackney businesses, creative and otherwise and promoting the area through its network. Lots of opportunities here…
L’entrepot – and to hang out with mac book we recommend our favourite Hackney spot, from Borough Wines, L’Entrepot encapsulates good wine and food in an original atmosphere