Popping-in?

We designed our studio; it's filled with light and music. There are multiple meeting rooms, a well stocked kitchen, and an indoor garden (with fishpond). Pop-in for tea and stay to use a spare desk for as long as you need.

11 Greenwich Centre Business Park,
53 Norman Road, Greenwich
London SE10 9QF

Cog is a Certified B Corporation

Public transport

We’re next to Greenwich train and DLR station. We have a door right on the concourse but it’s different to our postal address.

From Greenwich rail platform

This video shows the route to take from the train that will arrive at Greenwich rail station from London Bridge.

From Greenwich DLR station

This video shows the route to take from the DLR that will arrive at Greenwich DLR station from Bank.

By car

If you have to come by car, we have a couple of parking spaces in front of our studio. Call ahead to make sure they’re free, and use our postcode (SE10 9QF) to guide you in.

Get in touch

We’d love to hear from you. Use whichever medium works best for you.

11 Greenwich Centre Business Park,
53 Norman Road, Greenwich
London SE10 9QF

Cog is a Certified B Corporation

New project enquiry

It's exciting to chat about potential new projects. We don't have a ‘sales’ team or a form to fill in. Call us or give us a little detail via email and we'll get straight back to you.

enquiry@cogdesign.com

Website support

If you're a client then you'll be best served by calling us or contacting us via Basecamp, otherwise you can use this dedicated email that reaches all of the digital team.

digital@cogdesign.com

Finance questions

This email hits the inboxes of the people who deal with our bookkeeping and finances.

accounts@cogdesign.com

Just want a chat?

Sometimes enquiries don't fall neatly under a heading, do they?

hello@cogdesign.com

Cultural Calendar

A round-up of recommendations and reviews, sent on the first Friday of each month, topped-off with a commissioned image from a talented new illustrator. Sign-up and tell your friends.

Sign me up Cultural Calendar

Cog News

An irregular update of activity from our studio. Showing off about great new projects, announcements, job opportunities, that sort of thing. Sign-up and tell your friends.

Sign me up Cog News

Tony Brook at Wolff Olins

Tony Brook at Wolff Olins

In their reasonably regular ‘Because’ talk series, agency Wolff Olins invite leading figures from design and advertising to share their own passions and inspirations. This time round it was Tony Brook, founder of Spin. Michael was there to listen and learn.

I’ve been to a few of the Because talks at Wolff Olins. I don’t know, or at least can’t remember, how I ended up on the invite list but I’m delighted that I did. The premise is simple – a ‘name’ from the industry comes to share their inspiration. Of course, preparing a unique talk is a time-consuming process so most people fall back on a version of the story of their career, the one they tell journalists or student audiences (the speakers are always people with enough experience to have a comprehensive pre-edited back-story).

Tony Brook bucked the trend a little by bringing along some hugely impressive props – framed posters by some of the legends of 20th Century graphic design. Of course they are a key part of Brook’s story. His story is one of a collector, an obsessive about those 20th century pioneers, so obsessive that his personal collection became the basis of the Wim Crouwel exhibition that he co-curated the Design Museum in 2011.

People hire you to do what you have done before. It seems so obvious when someone spells it out so clearly.
michael@cogdesign.com

Brook’s story is fascinating. It is extremely well told through the interview he did with John L. Waters in Eye magazine (Eye, no. 86, vol. 22 2013) so I won’t attempt to repeat it here. Instead I’ll focus on the point of the talk – inspiration.

Having worked for other agencies, designing record sleeves (amongst other things) for a few years, Brook decided to set up on his own, working from his home under the name Spin. He was soon joined by his wife and they gradually built a pretty successful, ever-growing design studio. Nagging at the back of Brook’s mind was a statistic he’d been told about the length of time it takes for most new businesses to fail (18 months, 2 years or 3 years depending on which retelling of the story you hear).

After three years the company was still afloat, Brook had succeeded where most had failed. Flushed by success he did something inspirational, something that most business owners would be terrified to do; he decided it was time for radical change.

He took two big steps: he sacked two-thirds of his clients and he decided to invest Spin’s money (the money they would previously have spent entering competitions) on self-promotional items.

Walking away from clients is a bold move. It takes a lot of time, effort and emotional investment to secure new clients. Once you’ve got a client it’s much easier to keep them than to replace them so the temptation is to hang on, long after the relationship has stopped being productive (or enjoyable) for either of you. Sacking so many clients meant that Spin needed a much smaller team than they had become; it was clear as Brook spoke that he felt bad that he’d made good people redundant.

Tony_Brook_Spin_2

His decision to invest in self-promotion was the one that interested me most because of the principle that lay behind it – people hire you to do what you have done before. It seems so obvious when someone spells it out so clearly. Brook wanted to work in a particular field (moving graphics), nobody was asking Spin to do that work so he commissioned himself to do some. He sent the results to people, including Creative Review who put it on one of their giveaway CD-ROMs (I must look on the shelves to see if we’ve still got a copy) and people responded. Spin started being asked to produce that sort of work for companies like Nike and Channel 4 and Brook transformed Spin into one of the world’s most respected agencies.

Of course the story isn’t that neat. There were bumps, big bumps along the way (including commissioning a film about table football that nearly bankrupted them) but Brook’s tenacity and sheer hard work saw him through those problems.

Brook has expanded his horizons further using his obsessive love of graphic design along the way. In partnership with Adrian Shaughnessy, Brook is now just as well known for the Unit Editions project – publishing short-run graphic design books that ‘need to be made’, for the very geekiest of design geeks. And he was the powerhouse behind the AGI Open conference in London in 2013 (that I got so grumpy about).

I don’t share Brook’s total fascination and immersion in the history and practice of graphic design although I have nothing but respect for his obsession.

His hour at Wolff Olins may have been a heavily redacted version of his story but I found it hugely inspirational and it has set me thinking about the changes I should be making to my own studio. I just wish I was as brave as him and had half his enthusiasm, energy or talent.