Wednesday, 30 March 2011

A Beacon of Good Design

We have just completed work on a full marketing campaign for a large commercial building located inside Moscow's Garden Ring. The name 'Lighthouse' and the logo are inspired by its prime location and the spectacular panoramic views you get from the development across Moscow.

We developed the typography and colour palette to reflect the modern approach and direction of the development, the integrated mark in the logo 'O' symbolises an open approach and a seamless extension of the building into its wider context. We really enjoyed working on the project and we hope you enjoy the results!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Assembly Studios Creates New Sting and Website for Abu Dhabi Media

We have just completed work on an exciting new project for Abu Dhabi Media, who commissioned us to create an animated sting and website to coincide with the launch of a new brand identity.

The sting was inspired by Arabic calligraphy and the colour palette of Abu Dhabi Media’s ident, which is revealed in a series of sweeping strokes in a rainbow of colours that form the Arabic characters. The sting was produced in full HD for use in a variety of different media, and features on the website homepage.

The Abu Dhabi Media website is a fully content managed, bilingual and accessible suite of web applications, developed and deployed by Assembly Studios’ in house team, which worked internationally, collaborating with Abu Dhabi Media’s own server team and site designers, Brand Faith.

"We had a fantastic website launch" said Colleen McMillen, Director of Corporate Communications and Publicity at Abu Dhabi Media, "Assembly Studios did incredible work in a short amount of time. We are so pleased with the site and the sting, both of which allow us to effectively communicate our new brand identity."

Shaikha Al Shamsi, Associate Director of Corporate Branding said, "The new site and the sting clearly showcase the vibrancy of our new brand. We really enjoyed working with everyone on the Assembly team and appreciated their utmost dedication throughout the project."

The animated sting and website are now live at

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

When Jon met James (Cameron, that is!)

3d Masterclass with James Cameron and Carlos Saldanha
Abu Dhabi Media Summit

Jon Wells, our Creative Director in Abu Dhabi, was lucky enough to be invited to a 3D masterclass with James Cameron last week, by one of our clients, Abu Dhabi Media. The invitation followed our recent work on their new website and animated sting. (Have a look -

James Cameron was joined by Carlos Saldanha (director of the Ice Age series and the upcoming film Rio) and Jim Gianopulos (Chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment) to deliver the special masterclass, held at the auditorium of the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi.

James Cameron spoke about reactions to Avatar and how indigenous people around the world identified strongly with the movie and its overriding message. He showed behind the scenes clips from the film to demonstrate how ‘performance capture’ is so much more than just ‘motion capture’.

Carlos discussed the incredible hard work, dedication and time that goes into today’s animated 3D films, not only on the Stereo 3D aspects of it. He showed clips from the making of RIO, his soon to be released S3D animated film.

Both James and Carlos agreed that S3D by itself will not “make” a film. It’s the idea, the story, the acting and the directing that makes a compelling S3D film, as it does any film.

So, all in all, an incredibly inspiring and educational morning!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Friday 18th February – (Kiev)

After validating the visa story by trying to speak to various Ukranians on the flight and arriving through passport control with a warm imperial feeling in my stomach - I was struck by the distinct difference to Moscow: even less English advertising, less English spoken and much, MUCH cheaper. Not being stitched up by the taxi driver seemed a little easier to navigate too – or perhaps I was and I didn’t know the difference due to the contrast in prices… I’ll no doubt find out next time.

The project we’ve been asked to have a look at is a really interesting one, which has much the same sensitivities that a central London planning application may face. In the heart of a cultural district, there are opportunities to create an intervention between old and new that hopefully, if we do our job correctly, will engage the local community, provide a dynamic civic space and also create much needed grade A office space in the centre of town.

It’s true what they say about Kiev, it’s a fun city with lots of natural beauty… The architecture is typical Russian fare, but there is an element of style and grandeur that is more compacted than in Moscow and the hills make it much more photogenic.

Friday night passed uneventfully as it is a difficult gig to get anywhere where no English is spoken and all the signage is in Cyrillic.

Had a brilliant Pulp Fiction moment however, when all attempts at McDonalds (this was the best attempt at an eatery that wasn’t based on low quality meat… sorry not fair as Ukranian food on the whole is excellent, but you try ordering from a Russian menu when your Russian doesn’t extend further than“OK” “Perfect”   “Please” “Thank You” and “One for the Road…”). Anyway, attempts to order a “quarter with cheese” went through four members of helpful staff until jubilantly, the manager appeared and said in a broken Russian-American accent “Ah, you mean a Royale with cheese”... John Travolta is popular everywhere… genius.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Thursday 17th February (Moscow to ridiculously cold Kiev)

I joined the daily Moscow crush to get to my first meeting, which was a site visit to a business park next to Dynamo FC, so the Metro route was fairly straight forward in the end. What wasn’t straight forward was the 20-25 minute walk from the Metro. It was -27 and a lovely Siberian breeze was adding to the chill factor. I felt like Sir Edmund Hilary without oxygen. By the time I got to my destination, my legs had properly frozen up through my jeans and the receptionist killed herself laughing because I was slurring my words so badly with the cold!! Despite my hat, it felt like my ears were going to fall off!

After 3 more trips across town, and only going in the wrong direction twice, my various meetings went well, we won some work, and I was clearly looking very much the Russian as I was asked for directions 3 times on my way back to the Metro!!

I proudly emerged from what I was sure was the right station to get back to my hotel and found I was in a completely different place altogether!! Hmmm, fortunately my hotel was near a really tall tower that I recognised, so I improvised and found my way back to base. I reckon £100 saved in taxis, plus an interesting experience and I dodged the traffic, but it was soooo cold – respect to the Russians, no wonder they have such a reputation for being so tough.

After making it to the end of the Moscow leg of my trip, my good friend and client very kindly extended dinner with his family en route to Sheremetyevo airport and insisted on sharing some vodka in the back of the car – given the traffic and the time taken this turned into a genius, impromptu night in…

I was genuinely worried on the way to Ukraine that I needed a visa for my passport given the onerous process to get into Russia. I read somewhere that following the temporary relaxation in the law a few years ago to let travellers travel to see the Eurovision song contest, you no longer need a visa to get in from the UK to Ukraine – so Eurovision is worth the money then?? 

Boris Johnson Opens the Place UK Stand at MIPIM

8 March 2011 - Boris Johnson opens the Assembly Studios designed Place UK stand at MIPIM!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Matt on the Road Part Two - Dubai to Moscow...

Tuesday 15th February (Abu Dhabi to Moscow-co-co-cold)

In the north they might say it’s a bit parky… well in Moscow this week it was more than a bit parky – it was a lot parky – national parky! I touched down in Domededova in Moscow and made my way quite sombrely through the area that had been hit by the bomb last month. There was absolutely no evidence of the blast – in fact, someone told me that the airport recommenced normal operations within 20 mins of the blast… Anyway, I found myself compelled to stand well clear of the crowds whilst waiting for my bags, and headed for the exit sharpish.

The “official taxi” stand was surrounded by taxi drivers sporting the same branding as the official taxi stand! Not only that, I tried to order my ticket (which is the best and safest way to stay safe here) and the girl behind the desk initially verified one of the drivers… when I pushed however, she changed her story and he was in cahoots to blag a direct fare – you have to be so careful with this kind of thing…

Anyway, walked outside and within 10 seconds I could feel the bones in my legs literally chilling… It was so cold (around -22) that when my ancient taxi got stuck in traffic, my feet went numb inside the cab within half an hour of the marathon 2.5hrs it took to drive 20K into town.

I have to say, respect to anyone that deals with these sorts of temperatures on a daily basis – after some interesting meetings, with a hotel to help with their marketing initiatives and also with my good friend Pavel who I have worked with for nearly 7 years, I was faced with a dilemma for the following day – 3 meetings, 2 of which were at opposite ends of Moscow, with a projected journey time of 2hrs between each leg, or, take the Metro.

This may seem like an easy option but given that outside the business community and hotel receptions, there is very little English spoken and most of the signage is in Cyrillic – this becomes quite a challenge. Anyway, I’ve done this once before and the only really tricky bit is working out if you are going the right way on the Metro once you get on the train – the names are all in Russian, are around 30 characters long and you don’t have time to read them as the train moves – so you have to do the old cricket umpire trick of striking out a finger, every time you hit a stop.

To be continued...

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Matt on the Road Part One - London to Dubai

Both our Middle Eastern and Russian client bases have been keeping us busy over the last few months and what started out as a quick trip over to see a new client in Moscow, literally snowballed into a business tripathon that spanned from Saturday to Saturday. The big question was, whilst already sporting a cold, whether I could dash between Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Moscow and Kiev and be home in time for tea the following Saturday.

After a load of overnight flights, five economy class airlines, two visa changes, a couple of dodgy taxi negotiations and a 45 degree Celsius temperature switch from a balmy +25 to a quite literally barmy -20 at Domededova Airport; I saw some real contrasts in economies, culture and of course architecture.

Saturday Night 12th February (London – Dubai)

After boarding the most packed flight ever bound for Dubai, I went through my itinerary for the week: 6 meetings in 2 days in UAE, 4 meetings in 2 days in Moscow and a new project briefing and site visit in Kiev, which will be my first trip. I was really looking forward to finding out if the rumours were true – a city renowned for its natural beauties, I mean beauty…

Anyway, ordered my tomato juice – has anyone else noticed this is the drink of choice on nearly all airlines all over the world and yet no-one ever orders it in a bar or a restaurant, or buys it when they are at home? Some genius marketer at a tomato juice plant must have thought of this a long time ago – it’s similar to the fact that practically the only place you can buy a torch or a disposable barbecue is a petrol station in the UK??

We’re expanding our creative services in the Middle East so we are looking out for a good Project Manager to assist our Creative Director Jon in Abu Dhabi. We had a few pitches for web, interactive and also a really cool motion graphics one, so was looking forward to this part of the trip.

Sunday 13th February (Dubai)

A working day in the Middle East region saw me and the team catch up with our friends at Sian Events – reports that the market is picking up are certainly true if their current work levels are anything to go by, but architecture and real estate is still fragmented in Dubai at best.

Monday 14th February (Abu Dhabi)

We took the mad crazy road to Abu Dhabi where 4 lanes become 6 and the hard shoulder is reserved for VIPs to overtake / undertake - you get the picture. Zaha Hadid’s new bridge is now open which has cut the commuter traffic down by 20-30 mins into central AD from Dubai, which is still the city of choice for the younger ex-pats to live; they just grin and bear the drive – it will still be a while before any real volume of residential construction will change this.

Excellent back to back client meetings reveal we should be on to produce a motion graphics sting for a really high profile company (top secret at present) and also we have got ourselves onto the procurement lists for some big government organisations which, in time, assuming the procurement departments don’t start requesting you leave a member of staff as collateral for the duration of the project (it is getting rather onerous out here as they roll out bureaucracy with bells on) we should be up and running in the coming months with some interesting content creation projects.

Caught up with some ex-pat friends on Monday night who kindly helped our travel budget by putting me up ahead of the biggest temperature and culture switch you could imagine within 4 hrs flying time.

To be continued...