Dezeen Magazine

Former Airside co-founder and MD launch new design company

Dezeen Wire:
Alex Maclean and Caroline Matthews, formerly co-founder and MD of acclaimed design firm Airside, have announced the launch of their new studio, to be called Rupert Ray.

Airside are to close next month - more details in our earlier Dezeen Wire story.

The new company will open in April working on branding, graphic design, illustration, animation and live action in London. Rupert Ray is named after a historical figure who happens to be distantly related to both Maclean and Matthews.

Here's the announcement from Rupert Ray:

Rupert Ray launches

New design company Rupert Ray will open its doors in April 2012, launched by Alex Maclean, founder of the highly acclaimed design outfit Airside, and Caroline Matthews, who was previously MD of Airside.

Rupert Ray’s output will span disciplines including branding, graphic design, illustration, animation & live action. The pairing of the two directors is what will make Rupert Ray unique – Alex is known as a ‘client’s creative’ and Caroline has a reputation as a ‘designer’s MD.’

Coming from very different backgrounds and with different skillsets, their combined experience and enthusiasm will enable them to undertake projects spanning both the digital realm and the old world.

Rupert Ray’s first clients are a start-up lingerie brand in the US which Rupert Ray will be creating branding for.

Initially there will be an in-house team of three full time staff supplemented by freelancers and expanded as the company grows.

Alex Maclean, creative director, Rupert Ray commented; “Caroline and I have learned a lot from creating digital projects over the last 20 years. The shakeout of the digital revolution is not over, but with hindsight we have strong opinions about how to thrive in this new world. We like to say we do visual intelligence – I’m the visuals and she’s the intelligence.”

Caroline Matthews, managing director, Rupert Ray commented; “With 16 years advertising account handling behind me, alongside my experience at Airside, the importance of mutual respect and understanding with my clients is in my blood now. Launching Rupert Ray at this stage of my career feels unbelievably natural and instinctive, and I couldn’t have anyone better than Alex to be partnering with.”

Rupert Ray launches in April 2012 founded by the two directors, Alex Maclean (CD) and Caroline Matthews (MD). They met at the highly acclaimed design company Airside, co-founded by Alex, which will voluntarily close in March 2012 after 14 years of award-winning work.

The company will draw on the strengths of both directors who, whilst coming from very different backgrounds, secretly want to do each other's jobs. Alex is a 'client's creative' and Caroline is a 'designer's MD'.

Their combined experience defines Rupert Ray’s offering – each of them has 20 years experience in design and advertising. This allows them to undertake projects in media spanning both the digital realm and the old world.

Rupert Ray will create finely tuned stories for people and brands, deliberated crafted for specific media. The agency’s disciplines will include visual branding, illustration, graphic design and moving image.

Who is Rupert Ray?

The long version:

In the late 19th Century a young man, the last child of nine, not much more than a boy, left his privileged but unhappy home to make his own way and forget the past. He had a penchant for adventure, a reckless disregard for his own shortcomings and a hunger for knowledge that would place him close to the eye of a storm overtaking his world.

His young adult life saw the end of an age of empire, of inherited privilege and a culture of deference. Through the transformations wrought by horrors of two successive wars Rupert Ray witnessed the awakening possibilities of meritocracy (which he exploited) and the emancipation of strong willed women (whom he loved too much). Acquiring artisanal and engineering skills before duty in the fledgling Air Corps, he became an accomplished artist.

Later in life he lost no thirst for change, becoming a patron of the arts and embracing a new and unsettling visual and literary culture born in the salons of Paris, the pubs of London and the coffee shops of Edinburgh.

By some accident of fate Alex and Caroline both happen to be (albeit distantly) related to him. We love the story, the myth and the spirit of restless adventure he displayed so it seemed most appropriate to name the company after him.

The short version:

We named the company after an historical figure whose life story embodies a spirit of bold adventurism. A self-starting, self-taught character who is distantly related to both directors.

How many staff will Rupert Ray employ?

Three full time staff initially, plus our large team of trusted and hugely talented freelancers.

Why did Airside close?

You can read the original announcement on the closure of Airside here – the agency closed voluntarily and in profit.

How is Rupert Ray different to Airside?

At its heart Rupert Ray will carry the same enthusiasm, warmth, humour and respectful working process – we’re just a little more glamorous, less cartoony and with a glint in the eye.

Caroline and Alex’s biographies

Caroline Matthews – managing director, Rupert Ray

Caroline brings 20 years of commercial and advertising experience to Rupert Ray. Before joining Airside in 2010, where she rescued the company from the darkest days of the recession, Caroline had a career in advertising lasting more than 15 years as an account handler, doing everything from brand strategy, internal communications, corporate identity and implementing national and global TTL campaigns.

She started at Ogilvy & Mather on Ford, had five years at HHCL & Partners before moving on to CHI and then The Bank. There she ran the Global account for Peroni, specifically assisting countries throughout Europe and America and driving brand growth in the UK by 40% year-on-year.

As MD of Rupert Ray, Caroline will oversee all aspects of the business, from finances to HR. She is also responsible for client liaison, strategic development, financial management and rollout of projects. She has respect from business leaders and creatives alike.

"Caroline is better than anyone I have worked with at understanding the complexities of engaging clients and creatives on a level playing field. She knows what’s needed to create truly great long lasting work that comes in on budget. Her broad skill-set means she can juggle all the elements needed to ensure people remain happy and motivated on all sides. She does it all with an effortless charm and breeze that I greatly miss." James Greenfield, man vs machine, previously CD, Airside

Alex Maclean – creative director, Rupert Ray

Alex graduated from and then became a research fellow for the Royal College of Art before. He co-founded a pioneering charity promoting online democracy (UK Citizens Online Democracy) and created websites for feature films, before co-founding Airside London/Tokyo with Nat Hunter and Fred Deakin in 1998.

As founding creative director of Rupert Ray, Alex will engage with all clients on a strategic level. He is an award-winning animation director and illustrator and maintains a creative interest over all aspects of a project, from brief meeting and scripting, to design and final production. Two decades of experience creating digital projects has given him insight into how audiences engage with content.

His personal Airside highlights include:

  • Sony Bravia idents for UEFA (shown worldwide) - perfect response to the brief - unexpected for Airside
  • Konditor & Cook for stand out branding
  • Alex’s short film - Penguin in a Pickle
  • Nadav Kander's website 2001
  • Richard Ashcroft's website 2002 (award-winning, ground-breaking, photography by Nadav Kander)
  • No.1 Ladies Detective Agency (BAFTA nominated Film Titles)
  • Mastercard worldwide billboard campaign
  • Sony IFA exhibition - great immersive job - theatrical, animation and live action - worked with Tim Bricknell (Director) and Adam Scott (Event designer)
  • Pet Shop Boys website 2006 - because we invented Twitter - seriously
  • Our winning BBC Radio 1 pitch in 2000 - because we invented iPlayer - seriously
  • Demos - cracking an incredibly difficult subject and working with explaining extremely esoteric technological subjects
  • Lemon Jelly 'Nice Weather for Ducks' - the first proper music video Alex directed
  • Vitsoe branding and website – sophisticated visual identity and storytelling
  • A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Alex has also sat on the judging panels of prestigious international competitions including the D&AD and Design Week Awards.

His lectures on design take him to conferences and universities worldwide, including a tour of New Zealand and Australia with the British Council in 2005, Design Indaba in South Africa in 2007 where he shared the billing with Ivan Chermayeff and Paul Smith, and most recently Glug, where he did a talk about Airside entitled ‘14 years in 14 minutes.’

"Meticulous, perfectly judged, beautifully executed work achieved with minimal fuss and a real sense of enthusiastic collaboration." Anthony Minghella, director, The English Patient