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Get to Know UNIT Studios' Design Collective


The UNIT Design Collective team discuss what inspires them, who they follow on IG, what galleries / exhibitions to check out, and what recent work they're proud of

Get to Know UNIT Studios' Design Collective

We caught up with some of the UNIT Studios Design Collective team in their new Berners Mews studio to hear from each on what inspires them to design and create, who they follow on IG, what galleries / exhibitions to check out and what latest highlights they’ve been proud to be a part of.

TOM WANSBROUGH-JONES - Creative Director & Head of Design Collective

Q> Tell us a bit about UNIT’s Design Collective and what makes it unique? 

Tom Wansbrough-Jones> UNIT Design Collective is UNIT Studios' very own in-house creative studio, developed to concept, direct and execute work across the studios' core design and animation capabilities.

Q> How long have you been heading things up there and what changes have been made to the collective?

Tom> It’ll be two years now in July that I moved across from The Mill to head up the UNIT Collective. My main focus since I’ve been here is to bring in new talent capable of concepting and delivering an idea from the very start to finish of any particular project. 

Our industry has become so competitive over the last ten years, so it felt like we needed to adapt the way in which we approached any piece of work. With every brief that comes in, we always look to see how we can push it creatively. 

One of our big recent changes was to move to our new building on Berners Mews at the beginning of this year. We now have a bigger, more open design floor to work from, with more capability to upscale the team when needed for bigger projects.

We also commissioned a graffiti artist from Broken Fingaz to come over from Israel and paint the walls of our Design Collective space (images above - before the floor was uncovered and desks were all put in) so it feels very unique and inspiring to walk into the office every morning.

Q> What inspires you to design and create? 

Tom> The people who sit around me. I try to create an environment that feels equal no matter what level you might be at. Our young talent always have an insight into the latest techniques and new visual styles. I’m constantly trying to get us all to review each other’s work to see how it can be pushed.

I’m also a big fan of a title sequence, so this always plays a part in what I’m influenced by. One of my favourite places to spend time on is the website The Art Of The Title, which has so many great titles along with features about how they were made. I always find myself referencing the work of Patrick Clair, he’s got such an eye for detail. I couldn’t name a favourite as there are so many...right now, ‘The Night Manager’ is the first to come to mind. I love the clever transitions from one scene to the next. 

Q> What was the last exhibition you went to see?

Tom> I went to see ‘Another Funny Turn’ down at Block 336 on its first day of opening. It was a space that I’d never been to before so was great to go and check it out. In fact, when I arrived I was the only one there so made the whole experience very surreal due to the installations in each room. I then got chatting to one of the artists, Harriet Fleuriot, to explain her interpretation of the exhibition which was really interesting. I love her visual representations of nature always taking back our man made creations.

Q> Tell us about your personal design style?

Tom> Incorporating typography with photographic imagery is always something I’m fascinated by. I think this all started when David Carson’s ‘The End of Print’ and ‘2nd Sight’ came out whilst I was studying Typography and Moving Image at The London College of Printing. The way in which he deconstructs typography and image has always grabbed my attention. 

I love trying to construct a composition of type and image, and then have the challenge of how it animates on and off screen. 

Again I’m always influenced by title sequences I see.

Q> Are there any current design styles you are keen on? 

Tom> I love the work of illustrators Malika Favre and Thomas Danthony. Their clever use of negative space, bold colours and contemporary design always inspires me. It’s not the style of work I would naturally create myself, but that doesn’t mean I’m not influenced by it. 

Q> How do you guys ensure new design talent joins the collective?

Tom> I have a great relationship with Ravensbourne college. They have so much young talent coming out of their Motion Design course, so I’m constantly trying to get people in the studio for internships. In fact, three of my full time motion designers are all from Ravensbourne. I did my art foundation at St Martins and degree at LCC, so I’m looking to connecting with both at the upcoming degree shows to see all of the new talent moving into the industry.

Q> Is there any work you’re really proud of?

Tom> Project Everyone was a great piece for us as a team. I think everyone had a part in it from concepting, design and animation from beginning to end. It felt good to be involved in something which has a very important subject matter. With a limited budget and not much time, we had to make the most use of how we told this story, complementing the visuals to the script in an engaging way.

ELLA MARIE | UNIT Motion Designer (@ellamariew)

Q> What inspires you to create?

Ella Marie> I find I come up with the most new ideas during a day of exploring somewhere new. I think it’s the experience of being present and noticing shapes and textures in a new environment that gets the cogs turning. I am also inspired by audio-visual experiences and motion graphics created for live events.

Q> What are you listening to?

Emma> I listen to a real mixture of music, usually influenced by a festival or gig that I am looking forward to at the time. At the moment it is quite a bit of deep, melodic techno such as Aidan Doherty’s sets on soundcloud. I am also really loving L’entourloop at the moment too.

Q> Latest exhibition you’ve been to?

Ella> Kaleidoscope at the Saatchi Gallery.

(Kaleidoscope at the Saatchi Gallery)

(Saatchi Gallery's Instagram)

Q> How would you describe your design style?

Ella> Varied and experimental. I feel I work best when I fully wrap my head around the concept behind a visual first and then be led by that. I have worked on quite a range of styles while designing at UNIT. Recent projects I have worked on have required more illustrative approaches which I have enjoyed. But I also love creating abstract 3D scenes allowing freedom to play and test new skills.

Q> Design / creative influences?

Ella> I have recently been massively inspired by surrealist collage artist Mat Maitland. I have been studying his work and how he manages to compose such a seemingly random combination of images in such a way that delivers an incredibly stylish, vibrant and balanced outcome. I have been following the work of Jack Sachs for a while and I am so inspired by his mixed media approach of weird abstract 3D creations placed into filmed real environments.

(Mat Maitland Instagram)

(Jack Sachs Instagram)

Q> Favourite artist?

Ella> Graphic artist and printmaker Anthony Burrill. I have a screen print of his that says “Work hard & be nice to people” that I printed with his help at the Kemistry gallery in my first year in London. I feel like that mantra is representative of the positive, encouraging and to the point attitude he evokes at his talks and throughout his typographic work.

(Anthony Burrill Instagram)

(kemistry gallery Instagram)

Q> Favourite gallery?

Ella> I really love a lot of the exhibitions that The Serpentine put on. Ian Cheng’s BOB was one of my favourite exhibitions from last year.

(Ian Cheng’s BOB)

Q> Cool events coming up that we should know about?

Ella> “An Enemy Of The People” directed by my friend Jolley Gosnold at The Playground Theatre - should definitely be a thought provoking one. GLUG events and See No Evil are always very inspiring!

(Jolley Gosnold - An Enemy of the People)

Q> What platform are you most influenced by?

Ella> Good old instagram. And I do love a Pinterest board.

Q> Fave piece of tech?

Ella> I use my iPad and Apple pencil almost everyday mainly to scribble down and plan out ideas as well as storyboarding. But I have also started using it to create some character illustrations and GIFs recently. And it doubles as a handy second screen for my laptop on the go. I am also really enjoying my little mirrorless camera at the moment as it is so easy to carry with me and practice looking at the city from a different angle.

Q> Latest new instagram you’ve followed that inspires you?

Edinburghcollagecollective - A collage collective showcasing the works of both local and global artists. 

Gabriellamussurakis - Wonderful illustrator “of things and people” I recently met at a networking event.

Jenniferahayashi - Illustrator/doodle-bomber who was recently at a GLUG event.

Q> Best piece of work you've been involved in this year and are proud of?

Ella> For me this year has been dominated by one long-form project which is launching in the next few months. It looks amazing and so proud to say I have been involved. I have learnt such a lot on this project and thoroughly enjoyed working with the team of 3D VFX artists and compositors.

RONNIE BRIVINSKAS - UNIT Motion Designer (@motionronnie)

Q> What inspires you to create?

Ronnie Brivinskas> I like the idea that I can make anything come to life. Something as simple as a circle on the screen can be animated in so many fun ways to convey a certain motive. In general I get a bit over excited seeing other pieces of design when I am going through Pinterest, Dribble or Instagram.

Q> What are you listening to? 

Ronnie> I listen to all sorts of genres but I tend to fixate on different electronic music. This ranges from lowkey tech, psytrance to really intense riddim dubstep and drum and bass.

Q> Latest exhibitions you've been to?

Ronnie> The Renegade Craft Fair is an exhibition of different arts and craft items. 

Q> How would you describe your design style?

Ronnie> Errrmm depends what I am making. At the moment I don’t have a style knuckled down entirely but the sort of things I like to make aim to be positive, happy and playful. I am a very relaxed sort of person and I like to make that clear in my designs. 

Q> Design / creative influences?

Ronnie> I really enjoy work by Ariel Costa, and David Firth. I quite enjoy work that is very creepy, or very odd compared to the typical stuff you can find online.

Q> Favourite artist?

Ronnie> Capitan Klavis is a really cool Tattoo Artist that I wouldn’t mind having one of his pieces on my leg. Brothersoflight make some awesome Murals and their style of work is a funky where’s wally style but in an isometric form consisting of cool characters. 

(Captain Klavis Instagram)

Q> Favourite gallery?

Ronnie> Boiler Room always hold up some funky illustrative exhibitions that I love going to because the inspiration is endless. Hayward Gallery hosted some cool interactive exhibitions in the past; loved the one where you are made to go through a tight, dark tunnel for some time before seeing the exhibition in the purpose of heightening your senses prior.

Q> Cool events coming up that we should know about?

Ronnie> GLUG events, See No Evil are always my go to for mograph events although they do tailor for other arts as well which is great.

Q> Favourite shop to buy cool things?

Ronnie> I’m a couch surfer so I refrain from buying items as I am limited to what I can carry. But in the past I like to go down Brick Lane Market, as you can always find really cool things for your home such as a giant desk lamp that’s as tall as me (I’m 6ft 2).

Q> What platform are you most influenced by?

Ronnie> My main go tos are Dribble, Pinterest and Instagram, with the occasional Design Inspiration site or Behance

Q> Fave piece of tech you can't live without?

Ronnie> I try and refrain from having a materialistic mindset but obviously I can’t be doing things without my phone. I use the phone for taking cool photos via my Huji app which generates a polaroid filter over your photo which I love. As well as that I use it for Instagram purposes. 

Q> Latest new instagram you’ve followed that inspires you?

Ronnie> @Russandreyn - posts various funky little pieces.

@Laurentiulunic - love his work, his style is up my street. 

@Adam.priester - into 3d work and his recent stuff makes your skin crawl. 

Q> Best piece of work you've been involved in this year and are proud of?

Ronnie> This year me and Kingsley popped out the Rexona stuff which was tricky to start off with but managed to get something looking great that everyone was happy with.

DIOGO PINHEIRO - UNIT Senior Motion Designer (@digilart)

Q> What inspires you to create?

Diogo Pinheiro> Usually when I get a brief for a project and need to come up with a creative solution for it I go to Pinterest and start researching the keywords that I feel that are relevant, very often happens that I see a still image of something that is not directly related to the subject at hand which sparks an unusual idea for an animation in my head.

Q> What are you listening to?

Diogo> At the moment at work I listen to this “Chill-Hop playlists” which are basically calm hip-hop instrumentals. I usually listen to trip-hop, IDM, deep house, metal, soul and drum and bass.

Q> Latest exhibitions you’ve been to?

Diogo> Haven’t really been to any recently but I got a ticket to go to Stanley Kubrick's exhibition at the Design Museum that’s coming up. Can’t wait.

Q> Favourite artists?

Diogo> Ash Thorp, Gmunk.

(Ash Thorpe Instagram

(Gmunk Instagram)

Q> Favourite blogs?

Q> Cool events coming up that we should know about?

Diogo> I sometimes go to the “See no evil.” It's a free event where there is usually one or two companies that showcase their work at the cafe 1001 in Brick Lane. There is usually one every month.

Q> Favourite shop to buy cool things?

Diogo> I know a couple of online shops like and for geek merchandise. I try to stay away from these places though otherwise I accumulate too much stuff.

Q> What platform are you most influenced by?

Diogo> I believe it’s the internet. It’s where I usually find my music, movies, series and audiobooks.

Q> Fave piece of tech?

Diogo> Sound cancelling headphones. They provide quietness and help me focus more when I need.

Q> Latest new Instagram you’ve followed that inspires you? 

Diogo> I’ve followed the #styleframe which is a hashtag and not a channel but I get lots of really cool and broad inspirational content.

Q> What have you worked on recently that you are proud of?

Diogo> I really enjoyed getting stuck in to The Contractors title sequence. The deadline was incredibly tight for this but we were given full creative control, which enabled us to design and create something we felt would work as exciting introduction to this pilot. Of course, we would have loved to have more time to really craft each frame, but I’m really proud of end result.

KINGSLEY HARRIS - UNIT Motion Designer (@kingsley_harris)

Q> What inspires you to create?

Kingsley Harris> My inspiration to design and create stems from an early age of curiosity and passion to visually tell stories. Emotive work drives me to push further and reach unknown boundaries within my own ability. Forming a concept in my mind and bringing the idea to life with the use of motion design is such a rewarding process. I love being able to show others how I view the world with the use of animation. Designing characters and bringing them to life to show emotions and personality is a big influence on my inspiration.

Q> What are you listening to?

Kingsley> I actually do not listen to music much for inspiration or even listen to music much all together. It's a question I receive a lot and generally get a pretty shocked response when I say I do not really listen to music. I am a film or podcast type of person. I prefer to have a film playing in the background when I design.

Q> Latest exhibitions you’ve been to?

Kingsley> I recently went to the Illustration Festival at The House of Illustration were I purchased two beautiful illustrations from the fantastic Robert Hunter who is a London based Illustrator. The illustration fair is packed with all type of illustrators and has a strong and diverse creative community. The atmosphere is bustling and really ignites my creative flair. Hunter amongst other artists I follow inspire me to keep pushing my skills. Oh and I also attended the Tim Burton exhibition in Cologne a few years back, which was very inspirational. It was a chance to see all the stop motion puppets and concept art from most of Tim Burton's films. 

(The House of Illustration Website) 

(Robert Hunter Instagram)

(Tim Burton exhibition stills)

Q> How would you describe your design style?

Kingsley> My design style is energetic and character driven. I am always looking to tell a story through all kinds of mediums and techniques. I lean towards stylised pieces as opposed to realistic renders. I enjoy pushing design further combining different types of references. Fun and playful would be the ideal words to describe my design style, bringing in-animate objects to life, seeing personality and expression in every object. However I am flexible when I need to be within my preferred style, I can easily adapt to different kinds of visuals.

Q> Design / creative influences?

Kingsley> I gather influences from all types of areas. I find inspiration for line work and typography from street art. When I travel I check I’m drawn to local murals and graffiti. I also get inspiration for colour through street art, the colours typically used are poppy and eye catching. I am keen on stop motion pieces, creating stories with the use of your hands helps inspire ideas. A lot of my ideas also come through real life events - quickly opening the notebook on my phone to jot down a concept. Inspiration for me comes from all around. I try to connect different scenarios to create stories and add a twist by using random objects instead of humans for example. 

Q> Favourite artist?

Kingsley> Tim Burton for quirky and unique ideas and for storytelling the legendary Brad Bird. The Rusted Pixel’s work has a huge influence on me and has since I started my design journey. The stylised 3D pieces created by Rusted Pixel are very unique and always inspirational to see. 

(The Rusted Pixel Instagram)

Q> Favourite gallery?

Kingsley> I am not a big gallery person. I am much more in to museums.

Q> Cool events coming up that we should know about?

Kingsley> GLUG events, See No Evil or Bring your own Animation.

Q> Favourite shop to buy cool things?

Forbidden Planet would be my cool go to shop, figurine and book shop filled to the brim with a collection of unique items. I am a sucker for collecting figurines and animation books. I’ve racked up a pretty decent collection so far. I tell myself they are for inspiration.

Q> What platform are you most influenced by?

Kingsley> Pinterest for me is the most inspirational platform I personally use on a daily basis, the huge expanse of creative images can help drive inspiration and look development. When I am looking for inspiration I go straight to Pinterest. I feel the platform filters all the rubbish and generic images and searches for the best and most relevant results. I always get lost in Pinterest, clicking on one image then being taken by a related image and so on. I end up going on a huge discovery trail, finding tons of useful references. Ideas start following from all the new content being absorbed, making connections with shape, colour, lighting, composition etc. 

Q> Fave piece of tech? 

Kingsley> Currently my favourite piece of new tech has to be the new iPad pro with the on screen sketching ability. Using the app Procreate to design and illustrate has had a positive impact on my work. The iPad gives you easy access to digital drawing with multiple brushes, inks, pencils etc. Having the ability to carry a device with such resources daily is a huge boost in productivity. 

Q> Latest new Instagram you’ve followed that inspires?

Kingsley> Caroline Kjellberg, as her work has been a huge inspiration for me. The style she has created is very similar to my own preferred style and technique, I am in awe of all of her posts. Caroline is skilled in mix media design and is always executing new creative ideas. I am fond of Caroline’s simpler designs. I feel they have more of an impact on me. Simple animations tied with excellent design.

Check out the UNIT Design Collective reel here.
Follow Design Collective on Instagram: @unitdesigncollective

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UNIT Studios, Mon, 22 Jul 2019 13:39:51 GMT