Design duos

Some things come in twos. Partnerships often work best in creative businesses: opposing viewpoints, dynamic tension, complementary skills, integrated teamwork can bring out the best in design. After all it is increasingly accepted that design depends on collaboration more than on individual brilliance.

There are plenty of great design partnerships around today, although writing your name over the door is less usual now. Perhaps it was egotism or simply a sense of professional seriousness that persuaded Wolff Olins, Minale Tattersfield, Sampson Tyrrell, Lewis Moberly, Newell & Sorrell, Carroll & Dempsey, Smith & Milton, Trickett & Webb, Lloyd Northover and others to turn their names into brands.

Their founders have mostly moved on or re-formed, their companies sometimes absorbed, the names changed, and little recognition of the originals survive. Some companies are also life partnerships as well as professional ones. Others have moved into second-generation management. Nothing stands still, least of all the partners themselves. A look at the images of John and Jim below, in 1975 and again 30 years later, demonstrates the effects of time and the endurance of friendship.