London – design capital of Europe

The UK is a centre for design excellence and the design sector is the largest in Europe and the second largest in the world. Design contributes 7.2% of the UK’s total Gross Value Added (GVA) and employs 1.6 million people. There are hotspots of design throughout the UK, but London is very much the design capital. According to the Design Council’s The Design Economy Report, in 2015 there were 20,420 design businesses in London. The importance of digital continues to grow and now makes up 41 per cent of the design economy’s GVA.

Less than 20% of agencies have been operating for more than 15 years… Mercer Design celebrates 25 years in September 2017, so we are one of the longest-established agencies, and we are proud that companies who first-worked with us 20 years ago are still working with us today.


What enables a company to be successful for more than 20 years?

One of the most important things to realise in design is that nothing ever stands still. It is important to adapt and change. At Mercer Design, we are always learning, pushing boundaries and adding new skills. There are many factors that are important to the success of a graphic design agency, but these are our top 5 factors:
1. creativity
2. excellent customer service
3. innovation
4. responsiveness
5. fair pricing

Mercer Design are among the best and longest-established agencies in London. Agencies like Pentagram (established in 1972), Interbrand (1974) and Imagination (1978) are among the most recognised, but there are lots of smaller agencies who have consistently created great graphic design for 10, 20, 30 years or more.

Mercer Design are based in the Barley Mow Centre in Chiswick and we have always enjoyed interacting with other design agencies in the building. We see the other design companies around us as friends rather than competitors, and we learn from each other.


What is the future for graphic design in London?

The term ‘graphic design’ was probably first coined in 1922 by US type designer and calligrapher, William Addison Dwiggins, so in some ways it is a new industry. However, graphic design has really been with us throughout history… from Paleolithic cave drawings in Lascaux 17,300 years ago, to Johann Gutenberg’s printing press in 1450, to the explosion of visual communication in the 20th and 21st centuries. Paper-based and printed communications will be with us for some time yet but the move to online, web and video will continue unabated. London’s importance as a centre of design is strengthened by its excellent design education which attracts the best students from around the world. A yearly injection of the best design talent into the Capital’s design agencies will help to ensure that London remains the design capital of Europe.

The future role of the graphic designer is both exciting and challenging, and in the words often wrongly attributed to Charles Darwin…  ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change’.