Meet Toby. Toby joined us in London as a Designer in 2015 and, earlier this year, had the opportunity to spend some time working over in our New York Studio. Here is is to tell you a little bit more about his background in design and what he learnt from his time in NYC.
Bonus tip: if you’re looking for the best eats in town, Toby has you covered…
I think the moment that I really wanted to become a designer was when an old friend of mine slapped a rather colourful Eye Magazine on my table in college (Issue 81, Autumn 2011). It took me a couple of minutes to realise that this is what I wanted to be doing with my life; creating narratives using art and making things look pretty. Originally I put my focus on designing for web, UI basics and front-end development, but Norwich University of Arts realigned my interests and I fell in love with packaging design. I grew a deep-rooted passion for the creative arts and it quickly became a way of life.
In my last year of university I entered the Design Bridge Dog’s Bollocks Student Awards competition, and I was proud to be awarded runner up. Despite not winning outright, off of the back of my interview I was called that very day with a job offer. I took it without a nearly second thought (I may have consulted my mum first!). The only internship I had done was at Here Design, so going straight into an agency job from university felt like jumping right in at the deep end.
During my time at Design Bridge I’ve had the opportunity to work across a range of different clients – some small, like a jam project for local charity Accumul8, as well as some big global clients like Guinness, Dulux and Hellmann’s. It’s not easy to measure how much I have learnt whilst I’ve been here, not just about industry processes, but also about people and culture. Having come from a fairly reclusive group of Dungeons and Dragons-playing teens to where I am now, I feel like Design Bridge has helped me develop as a person. This agency has always been chock full of people who want you to grow and become a bigger part of the team, and these people have helped me become the Designer and person that I am now.
Earlier in the year there was an opportunity for a few Designers to go and spend some time working in the New York Studio. I think offers like that rarely come around in life, so when they crop up you have to take them. I was already working on the odd project with our New York team for clients based in the US, and I was eager to learn the market and do something a bit different. Before I knew it I was on a plane heading across the Atlantic, a screaming child in front of me, another child behind me kicking my seat!
Working in New York is certainly a different experience, but it still has the familiar rays of DB culture shining through. The Studio is much smaller (around 20 people, give or take a few) but it’s still full to the brim with personality and charm. Kasia, Sam and the rest of the team have really made the space feel like a home from home. We have a quaint kitchen/dining area with a stunning view of the Empire State Building – it’s a little dangerous as the cupboards are always full of snacks! It’s open-plan, light and airy, and allows the Client Servicing team to peek over at what us Designers are up to.
The projects I worked on whilst I was there were really varied – from brand activation to spacial design – and everything was done in the same DB way, building strong client relationships and re-imagining iconic brands. The work culture is much the same as in London – we work hard and then we reward ourselves at the nearest bar. In this case, with a shot and a PBR in one of our locals, like Hog Pit or Live Bait.
My memories of New York consist mostly of indulgent foods, drinks and incredible views. My frequent favourites include Mac n Cheese at The Smith (27th and Broadway), the pulled duroc pork sandwiches at Num Pang (also on Broadway), the indulgent everything pretzels at Cannibal on 29th Street, and my local $1 slice of pizza when I was too lazy to go anywhere else! Oh, and how could I forget, the original Shake Shack in NoMad! It made a fantastic lunchtime snack, although not so great for my waistline.
New York is very much like London in terms of its creative culture. If you’re looking for it, you realise that it’s all around you. There are hipster pop up fashion stores in Chelsea, murals and graffiti in Williamsburg, and little galleries littered all over to stumble upon and explore. The larger museums like The Met and Museum of the City of New York are always good when you’re stuck for things to do on a Saturday afternoon, but I found that there was always more than enough inspiring ways to fill my free time.
I had a fantastic time over in the Big Apple and I would recommend taking up opportunities like this to anyone – always ask to travel and experience new cultures, it really does help you become a better Designer. One thing that is great about working in an agency like Design Bridge is that there are opportunities like this.
To anyone thinking of joining the team (in any of our Studios), I’d say that you’ll be joining a very unique, very human, close-knit culture that has thrived for over 30 years. They even get you really nice cakes on your birthday!
Like the sound of Design Bridge New York? Check our Careers page for opportunities to join the team, plus the latest roles we’re recruiting for in London, Amsterdam and Singapore.