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Emerging Edinburgh – Design

By The Drum | Administrator

January 31, 2003 | 4 min read

Paterson’s Scottish Oak Cakes packaging designed by The Marque.

Hookson Design

Hookson Design is one of the newest design breakaways to set up in the past 18 months, and MD Bryan Hook remains up beat about the future: “We’ve not really found it too hard out there. But we are very lucky to have some of the clients, such as Wedgwood, with us. They have stuck by us, and through them we have managed to get other clients – by a sort of word-of-mouth recommendation.”

Hookson has a number of clients in both Scotland and down South, including Jasper Conran, Diageo, Kyndal and the Royal Bank of Scotland, along with a London sales office based in Chiswick.

The company currently employs five people, yet is bucking the trend and is currently recruiting for more designers. Being based in London does have its advantages, says Hook. “It means that we can set up client meetings and show that we are a force to be reckoned with,” he explains. “I am down in London most weeks and clients don’t care where we are from, really, as long as we provide a good source of work. That’s all that matters, really.”

McKinstrie Wilde

Aird McKinstrie has over 20 years worth of experience in the design industry. McKinstrie Wilde has been up and running for the past four years, and has 15 members of staff.

The design consultancy works with a variety of clients, including Stagecoach, Velux and Dundas and Wilson.

McKinstrie admits that there are tough times ahead in the industry, and thinks that there will be more casualties along the way, but believes McKinstrie Wilde will be one of the survivors. “I’m of the opinion that you are only as good as your last piece of work. We try to keep to this philosophy and find that most of our clients stick with us because of that. There are not too many rich pickings out there. Even last year I had to formally pitch for far more existing clients than I previously have ever done. But I do think that it will get better, and I am enjoying what I am doing at the moment.”

The Marque Design

The Marque Design was founded in 1997 by directors John Hamlin and Frances Brown and has a total of six members of staff. Its clients include Scottish Widows, Scottish Life, the Scottish Arts Council and HEBS. “We tend to find that the best way to keep getting work is to keep the client happy. Most of the jobs that we have done over the past few years have been from long-standing relationships with clients,” admits Hamlin. “We have been pitching, though. And we have managed to go up against the big guys like navyblue and Blue Peach and actually win in pitches,” he adds ruefully.

“The company is going from strength to strength really,” Brown continues. “We’re growing all the time, but we are also being cautious – each year we take on a new member of staff and try to grow from there. It seems to be working, though”.


It’s difficult to think that Elmwood in Edinburgh is in fact a relative newcomer within the Scottish design community. When Paul Sturzacker and Graham Sudron decided to move from Graphic Partners, they were unsure what their next move would be. “If Elmwood hadn’t come along, we would definitely have started up on our own,” admits Sudron.

With new clients such as Napier University, Kyndal and Curtis Fine Papers, the company has had a busy year. But they are keen to point out that Elmwood’s practices are different to the design norm. “We work in a different way from most consultancies. We focus more on internal communications and look to what the brand is before starting on the design side of things,” says business development director David Robertson.

Elmwood employs seven people in the Edinburgh office, and Robertson sees the growth of the company as a gradual process. “Elmwood is a growing concern. Some people might look to the South for new ideas, but we can stand out in the market here in Edinburgh and grow here. That’s what we are about and that’s what we plan to do for the future.”


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