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The Ideal Studio

ustwo™ is a privately owned digital design studio that delivers interaction and user interface design, app development and digital entertainment to some of the world’s leading brands.

Based over two floors (soon to be three) in the iconic Tea Building in Shoreditch, and with studios in Malmo, Sweden, and New York, the company employs a total of 130 ustwobies.

Mills, founder and Chief Wonka of ustwo, on... 

The busy, colourful social area on their London studio’s ground floor...

“I’ve always had a real desire to have a space like this – a freelancer once said it was like being inside my brain. We want a space where people can feel 100% comfortable and it’s definitely the real deal and not just a veneer of being wacky and zany.”

“I believe this space is a big selling point for clients and new employees – it makes people want to work with us or for us. If they don’t then they are probably not right for us and we are probably not right for them.”

A vital balancing act...

“The best creativity flourishes in an open and free thinking environment balanced perfectly with the tightest of commercial restraints. Getting it right isn’t easy and it’s something we’re constantly striving to achieve at ustwo™. Our aim is to empower individuals to be creative in their own way, and how they do it is up to them. We merely supply the environment on a physical and human level and offer support.”

“We want people to feel they can be themselves and to some extent that means do whatever they wish – but they are here to do the best work possible and help the studio reach its goals. We are grounded in process as creatives and we understand how to run a business.”

Why ustwo are removing desktop computers where possible...

“We’ve embraced a culture of mobility, which allows and promotes the movement and flow of teams so that no one remains static or fixed to one desk – you can get stale if you’re just in the same place. The management are encouraged to move around too – I am sitting with the developers at the moment and I have learned so much doing that.”

Staying at the forefront of the digital world...

“You’ve got to recognise and accept that the industry is constantly evolving and no one in technology will be here forever. We always want to invest in a stream of young designers who have a natural inquisitiveness for exploring new technology.”

“You need to balance the now with the next and even the next again. Also don’t focus on just one service – for example app development (like web design before it) is now a commodity being made by just about anyone.” 

“You have to be aware that sometimes we're working on concept projects that may not be in the hands of the consumer for years. Working on the next big thing is what excites us and it shows that you can't afford to be static in your approach. We're constantly questioning ourselves and disrupting how we do things.”

Lessons learned running international studios...

“We try to replicate our values with a local cultural feel to all studios. When we set up in Sweden we sent six people from our London studio who took the culture from here – but as we begun to hire locally, Scandinavian culture naturally became part of the studio. We listened to people too and incorporated flexi-time (a big thing in Sweden) into the working day allowing (obviously) more flexibility in terms of working hours. It's always important to adapt."

“We approached the US in a different way understanding that although salaries might be higher – the hours worked are longer with a lot less holiday entitlement compared with the UK."

The ideal studio...

“The perfect studio is one where passionate people come to do the best work of their lives. Culture isn’t about paying someone else to 'design' a workspace environment; it’s instead an organic process that the people themselves mould and create over years.”


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