Third Eye Design

By The Drum, Administrator

February 23, 2006 | 7 min read

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride... You've come second in these awards in the previous two years. How confident were you that you would win the top prize this year?

You can never be too confident about anything, but we knew our business performed better this year, than last, our portfolio and team keeps getting stronger and we are in the lucky position to get involved in some great projects.

Why were you not at the awards to collect the prize this year?

I was in New York. February has been the month we have been trying to get everything finished in Manhattan, refurbishments complete, furniture delivered, IT systems installed, legalities finalised etc.

How much has the opening of the New York office contributed to your success, in the eyes of your peers?

I am sure it has definitely contributed as it is a big story and no one has ever done it before. That shouldn't take away from the great stories that are generated from Glasgow. We do pretty cool stuff in the UK too!

Would you have won the prize this year if you had not opened in NY?

I would like to think, absolutely. We have always been very consistent in the awards, and runners up in 2005 and 2004, when New York was nothing more than a dream for me. Our success this year on major projects such as the Edinburgh Fringe and RMJM, award wins at the Scottish Design awards, Design Effectiveness Awards, moving into our new offices and our involvement in promoting UK design abroad for organisations such as the BDI and UK Trade and Investment has all contributed.

What are your first impressions of NY as a city to work in?

Amazing. So inspiring from both a business and a creative level. It's the centre of the world and you cannot fail to be caught up in the excitement.

How many Airmiles do you now have?


In the past you have said that you only employ staff when the right people show up. What do you look for in your staff?

Natural talent and ability, ambition to make a difference in design and, above all, passion.

If you could sign anyone (absolutely anyone) up to join your team, who would it be?

Tyler Brûlé, the founder of wallpaper* for his contacts and eye for style.

Does a creative environment encourage good work? How important has your new building been?

I am a great believer in creating the right environment to work in. Our buildings both here and in New York are testament to that and have been very considered.

They have been designed to encourage the free flow of ideas, be inspirational to both staff and clients and also provide the team with enough space and variety of areas to work in. I think as brand consultants, putting value on your own brand the way you do for your clients is paramount.

Do you still have a passion for design? Or is it now about the business?

The two have always gone hand in hand for me. Good design is good business. I am still very much involved in projects with the team, although physically do very little design work other than concept and direction. My job is to be passionate about design, to transfer this passion internally to my team and externally to clients.

Getting involved in projects like 26 Malts last year was good release for me, where I was very much hands-on.

Will you grow any larger in Glasgow now?

Not much bigger to be honest in terms of staff. There are 10 of us in Glasgow and we will probably recruit another one or two designers this year, but we will never surpass 15.

We will however hopefully grow in terms of business performance, types of projects we are working on and markets we are involved with.

If New York is successful, would you contemplate opening somewhere else?

Yes, absolutely. That is the long-term plan. As for where, I am not sure yet, and when? After we have achieved true success in New York.

Which agencies in Scotland to you admire?

There are so many of us now who have become great friends over the years, so I don't want to feel I am missing anyone out.

But the most admiration goes to people such as Stuart, Mark and Maggie at Stand, very like-minded to us, in terms of values; Jon, Bernie and Doug at Navy Blue, for their balls and business aggression and Nick, Graham and Paul at Elmwood for entering a market right at the top, and staying there.

And, which agencies further afield do you admire? Is there any business or company you aspire to emulate?

Emulate, no. Learn from, yes. Pentagram ( have had it so right for so long and are true global practioners who do beautiful work and Wink ( for their amazing brand portfolio and inspiring, considered work.

Who would your dream client be? And why?

For me it would be CP company. An Italian fashion brand set up by a designer called Massimo Osti who recently passed away.

Their innovation has inspired so many fshion brands today and I have been an avid collector of their jackets since I was in my teens. I still have archives of their catalogues from the 80s and early 90s in my office today. Class.

How important is the marketing of your own business? Has your success been down to a proactive approach to marketing the agency well?

Marketing is integral for us. And for four years we have had a full time marketing post within the company.

This is one of the elements which has made us successful, but it is more our holistic approach to our business and the Third Eye Brand: how we communicate, who we work for, what we do, how we speak about ourselves and how we work, that makes us stand out.

If you didn't work in design, what would you do?

Years ago I would have said I would be an architect. Now I really don't know. I kind of like this job.

How easy is it for a small Scottish agency to build a name for itself internationally?

Very difficult. But with the right motivation, drive and ambition I am sure it can be done.

We lectured to an audience of 500 paying guests in Gaudelajara in Mexico last week, and they were very keen to hear what we said. The conference was a huge event and featured on national television and in the press.

It’s not a matter of being heard as people do want to listen. It’s a matter of having something worthwhile to say.

Have you made it?

You’re joking, aren't you?

Watch this space.


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