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Midlands Focus

By The Drum, Administrator

September 29, 2006 | 5 min read

Think of design hubs and rarely will Birmingham be anywhere near the top of your list. Manchester, through its heavily agency-populated Northern Quarter, has a well-established design community that has an identity, and a strong one at that. Through its consistent self-promotion, rooftop shouting and prominent success at award shows, Manchester has left Birmingham in its wake in recent years. However, getting its head down but rarely raising its head above the parapet is a small, yet perfectly formed, Birmingham design community.

Later this month a five-day design expo will aim to showcase that very community at The Rojac Building, a venue located in what is fast emerging as Birmingham’s own version of the Northern Quarter. Plus, which opens on Saturday 14 October, is being run in conjunction with Fast Type Slow Type, the fifth in a series of international design conferences, and aims to promote the talent residing in the UK’s second biggest city.

Support for the event comes in the form of Typevents, Frontworks, IDEASFACTORY, Birmingham and Solihull Business Link (BLBS), European Regional Development Fund and Birmingham City Council’s Creative Development Team, while a string of agencies (proving that they have all the attributes to compete with the best) will be on hand to showcase their previous work. Here, Adline provides a run down of some of the best-kept secrets the city has to offer.

383 Project

383 Project is an award-winning full-service design and new media agency. Working across a diverse range of media, 383 has established a client base that includes the likes of Sprite and Channel 4. The agency prides itself on producing work that is both representative of the brand’s values and is in tune with consumers.


3form is a creative digital agency specialising in interactive design for screen and the web. The agency boasts of combining technical expertise and design excellence with a strong emphasis on usability to produce highly innovative projects for a roster of international clients including Vivienne Westwood, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the BBC.

The CharacterShop

The CharacterShop is an award-winning 3D animation studio and production company specialising in 3D computer animation and digital effects. The company delivers content to a wide range of media markets including film, television, commercials, interactive media and mobile telephone. Clients include BBC, ITV, Disney (Jetix), Discovery, Nickelodeon and Viasat from Sweden.


Clusta purports to deliver innovative and effective graphic and digital communications for its expanding client list. The company works with some of the world’s biggest brands and corporations, as well as independents and start-ups. Clients that work with the Clusta team include Sony Europe, Virgin, EMI and Orange.


From brand identity to ad campaigns, from 3d modelling to exhibitions, from packaging to web design, Fluid provides it all with a strategic approach and progressive attitude towards design. Fluid’s expertise and talent has earned it an enviable client list that includes EA Games, Levi, BT, BBC and Sony.

Heavy Object

Heavy Object claims to be much more than your average design agency. With a flexible team of experienced illustrators, graphic designers, animators and programmers, Heavy Object delivers campaigns through to print, e-commerce and on-line communities. The agency has been commissioned to produce brand work for Rhubarb-Rhubarb, The UK’s International Festival of The Image, Supersonic Festival, Comic Relief, Midwest and Glenn Howells Architects.

Made Media Limited

A digital media agency, specialising in developing websites, databases and multi-user software systems to help clients to communicate with customers, partners and themselves. Made also makes visual identities, motion graphics and interactive media solutions. Clients include Channel 4, Maverick Television and The Learning and Skills Council.

Plus Two Studios

It was 1991 when co-founders Darren Grainger and Andrew Higginbotham moved back to the Midlands from their stints at I-D magazine in London to form Plus Two Studio. Fifteen years on, Plus Two provides services such as graphic design, art direction, identity, typography, websites, and e-commerce. Clients to have employed the agency include Virgin Records, Warner Music, Dawes Cycles, Ruption BMX, and Ben Sayers Golf.


+Prism, as it’s known among friends and clients alike, specialises in visualising and constructing brands. Through distinctive identities, the agency claims to help clients to foresee their brand’s future and how to effectively expose their message creatively across the marketplace. Clients include Channel 4, Connexions, Lovell Homes and Sendo Mobile Phones.


Slingshot is a multi-disciplinary graphic design and web development agency. It produces a wide variety of work from logos, brochures and magazines to websites that feature flash animation, e-commerce, content management systems and level AAA for accessibility. Slingshot’s broad range of clients includes Advantage West Midlands, South East England Development Agency, Arts Council of England, Fenchurch Clothing and Graphotism magazine.

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