We are ten

20 January 2014

This is an old post, so may include broken links and/or out-of-date information

2014 is the year Supercool celebrates a decade of design.

And this is how it all began …

Our origins can actually be traced back even further than 10 years, to a conversation between two people who met on a university trip to Thailand in 2002.

Both James and Kristian liked the idea of starting their own design agency; an agency with a ubiquitous Thai phrase at its heart – 'sabai sabai', which loosely translates as ‘easy-going and happy, with all as it should be’.

Planning for this new venture began while they were still at university, but in those days it was mighty rare for graduates to form a start-up without first gaining experience at an established company. So what did James and Kris' tutors think of this adventurous, entrepreneurial spirit?

Clive College – visual communication tutor, University of Central England (now Birmingham City University)

We were conceived in Thailand but we're proud to be born and bred in Brum. Supercool officially launched as a partnership in January 2004 from an office in the former Geo. W Hughes Pen Works in the city's Jewellery Quarter, which is still our home to this day.

Pen nibs, made in our office when it was a pen factory

Cutting our teeth on editorial design, our first big commercial contract was the design and artwork of 6 different publications for a local publisher. It was a good grounding in turning around quality work, sharpish! We've also always had close ties to the local arts scene, which began by working with MA Fine Art students on their final year catalogue.

Our portfolio quickly grew to incorporate branding alongside design for print; but Kris was missing home and returned to his native Norway in 2006. He remains a close collaborator, and Supercool's design style still reflects our Scandinavian heritage.

Also in 2006, I joined the company after a stint at ad agency McCann Erickson, and Supercool went super-official by becoming a Limited company. Proper grown-up.

By 2010 we'd started doing an increasing amount of digital work, and realised we needed another pair of hands. Happily, Josh and Supercool found each other, and The Angell joined as a full-time Supercooler in early 2011.

And that's an incredibly potted history of Supercool's first 10 years working with some great clients, on design that makes a difference.

Here's to the next 10 … sabai sabai!


This is the first in a series of blog posts commemorating Supercool's decade of design.

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