PHd design, one of Staffordshire’s longest established design houses celebrates its 25th year in business in 2016.
Starting in 1992 by Founder and Managing Director Peter Howard, he began by creating a logo and leaflet for a charity called Robert Franks. This commission led to more work from the charity and the business was up and running.
Setting out with a drawing board in a bedroom, long before the ubiquitous Mac had appeared on the scene, Peter crafted logos, brochures, direct mail and packaging designs by laboriously drawing each element out by hand and then using traditional method of print preparation to achieve the desired effect. On this Peter comments; “Some of the skills I learnt and used back then will not be missed. Endless hours in a rented darkroom scaling prints in frankly horrible conditions being just one. However, it taught me the basics of form, balance and structure which are still the same today. Sophisticated computer systems such as we have today are fantastic tools which really do aid the process and speed projects along but you still need the idea, and no computer in the world can do that.”
PHd is a very different business today.
It is that determination and passion to get the idea right before you begin the artwork which has caused heartache and ultimately respect from the designers who have worked with PHd over the years. It has always been a policy that any designer must first use pen, paper and their talent to create and present ideas internally before they get a mac, this difficult method has taught every designer the power of the idea and the power of sketching things out in very quick time, rather than relying on the technical wizardry available today. This unusual approach has armed previous designers with a higher level of confidence in their abilities which has seen them to go onto have great careers themselves.
The PHd today is a very different business from that of 1992. Gone are the drawing boards, the cow gum, paste up tables and Rotring pens, and in have come the Macs, scanners, printers and class leading software… but the ideas come in the same way as always… pen. paper and a deep understanding of the challenges faced by the client.
“Sketching out ideas is so much faster”. Says Neil Sargeant, Creative Director at PHd. “You can try several ideas in minutes without ever touching a mouse or a keyboard and once you have an idea that stands up to scrutiny, then it’s worth opening the digital toolbox and seeing if it really does work”.
Neil has been part of PHd since 2004 and, with the exception of Peter, is the longest serving member of the team. His passion and outlook are a key part of PHd design today. So much so that Neil became a partner at PHd in 2012 and takes charge of the studio output on a day to day basis.
“People often ask how we have managed to get through two recessions and come out the other side with as much drive and enthusiasm as the early years”, says Peter. “It is a genuine passion to make a difference to our clients that drives us on. We are an independent design house which gives us the freedom to take on some projects and challenges which other companies could not. This helps us gain a really wide breadth of experience in so many types of industry that we can draw on for projects large and small”.
Award winning design.
Having won accolades in design competitions and being recognized nationally and internationally has been a real boost to PHd over the years. But the real buzz has been seeing something they’ve created come to life, be that a company’s new brand, a new product on the shelf of a supermarket or a direct mail campaign helping students into apprenticeships. Peter continues “When you see your ideas and hard work doing the job you intended, it makes the job not a job, but a pleasure”.
PHd design will be hosting several events through 2016 to help celebrate this milestone. We hope to see you at one of these, or just give us a ring, come on down to the barn and have a coffee and a chat and see if we can use that creative force to help your business get to where you want to be… Here’s to the next 25 years.