NB Studio: From booze to babies to banks

We talk to Nick Finney and Alan Dye of NB Studio about their collaborative design process and some of the lessons they’ve learnt.

“In the early days all we wanted to do is really is solve our own problems and make ourselves famous,” jokes Nick Finney. 

Before NB Studio, Alan Dye and Nick Finney used to sit back-to-back at Pentagram. The two designers decided to leave Pentagram, which they call “the best finishing school in the design industry”, and start something of their own. Today, Finney and Dye are the founders and creative directors behind NB, an award-winning studio with a client list covering the public and private sectors, the arts, retail and property industries as well as the not-for-profit sector. The studio’s mantra is “Creative Courage”, a rallying cry to be braver and bolder, which they manifested in the form of a play – Turn Tables: The Anatomy of a Pitch – that they performed at Design Indaba Conference 2016. 

“I think NB Studio is a very collaborative design studio,” says Dye. “We have a strategy guy and a couple fantastic project managers, who aren’t just project managers – they do more than that, and we have a wonderful team of designers. We work on everything from booze to babies to banks; we don’t have a specific thing we work on. It’s a very cross mixture of work.”

As well as the premiere of their play, Finney and Dye presented their learnings on the Design Indaba stage in a form of manifesto. It included points like “assumption is the mother of all fuck ups” and “indecision kills”.

“I love what we do,” says Dye. “It’s so random and so varied and god may it continue. You know we work with whiskey companies; we work with gin companies; we work with Mothercare, who make children clothes. We work with retail people, we work with hotels, we work with education, museums and galleries and it’s really interesting to understand that particular client’s problems and needs and I think that’s what keeps us fresh and keeps us always on the go and it’s never boring.”