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How SAS London stays on the Cutting Edge of Design


In the first of our series of Agency profiles, we spoke to Michael Dowell, Digital Design Director for award-winning digital marketing & design agency SAS London, which is part of the MSLGroup.

He gave us intel on what’s helped them grow as a company, how they find the most creative talent and how they stay at the cutting edge of design.

1. What’s the biggest challenge you face as a design professional?

The biggest most exciting challenge in the digital space is the evolution of the users’ experience, catering for multiple devices and scenarios. This has moved at such a rapid pace in the last few years and it’s set to continue. For us this means we’re constantly evolving our design processes and internal set up. It’s great to continually adapt, it keeps things exciting.

2. What has been the biggest factor in your company’s growth?

We tend to rely on word of mouth, letting our work do the talking, with clients being advocates for the work we create with them. Everyone likes an award for their work but I believe there is more credibility in being noticed by your clients and peers through blogs and published articles. Recognition within these channels are as good, if not better, than an award you paid to enter. Having a fun and enthusiastic studio culture has also helped us grow and is integral to our relationships and successes.  

3. What is your method for hiring the best/most creative staff?

You have to enjoy what you do to do it well, which is one of the reasons I’m a huge advocate of a vibrant studio culture. We like to let the outside world see what we’re all about. You just have to look at our Instagram and tumblr feeds to see what I’m talking about. This paired with the variety of work we’re producing tends to be a great pull for top talent. We also invest in our Scholarship Scheme and Internships to make sure the talent coming into the industry are supported and know our name.  This enables growth, as well as supporting the British design scene.

4. What advice would you give someone wanting to join your team?

Simple: show us what you’re capable of. If you’ve got creative flare, that’s half the battle, if you get on with the team and have passion for the work you produce then there’s an opportunity here. Bringing opinion and personality to the table and looking at problems differently is highly important, we’re not a studio of clones. We all challenge and push one another to constantly improve and develop as a studio, and as individuals.

5. How do you encourage your team to stay ahead of trends and emerging technologies?

It doesn’t take much encouragement, the team is passionate about what they do and therefore like learning. They’re certainly not shy of getting their hands dirty and learning new things. Recently the team has been working on animations, responsive design, games, and apps. We spend our spare time either on blogs, at exhibitions, testing new tech, or work-shopping small ideas.

GoPros seem to be the big experiment in the studio at the moment. The studio spy cams are hooked up to our receptions big screen (worth coming to check out), however we also have an appreciation for traditional methods and understanding how they can still underpin our contemporary practice. We recently visited Whittington Press and Tom Mayo at his Cheltenham studio.

6. What was the latest piece of creative that blew your mind?

We’re currently working with doing some interesting applications using Oculus Rift with the team researching and pushing this.

I am constantly looking for new creativity in London. I recently visited the Barbicans Digital Revolution and got far too carried away with the immersive lasers. It certainly brought out the kid in me!

I am also the founder of a website called The Inspiration List, in which I collate all the things that inspire me, including typography websites, great illustration resources as well as creative blogs.

Our thanks to Michael Dowell for sharing his inspiration with us. Be sure to subscribe (fill out the form on the right) to hear about our next Agency profile - and all our new Vitabites!

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