Common Curiosity is a multi-disciplinary graphic design studio working across brand identity, print and environmental design, based in the Greenhouse and focused on creating meaningful design that is meticulously crafted. Founder and Creative Director Paul Felton tells us more.
Paul Felton, Cofounder and Creative Director of Common Curiosity, based in the Greenhouse.
Common Curiosity is a multi-disciplinary graphic design studio working across brand identity, print, digital and environmental design. We work with ambitious businesses to help define their purpose and create sophisticated, meaningful and thought-provoking brand identities that help energise organisations and connect them with their audience. For the past two years, we've been working extensively with Oval on a range of Digbeth-based projects, so if you're around the area you'll have no doubt seen some of our work, including The Bond, The Tubeworks, Greenhouse and Fazeley Studios identities and signage.
“we've been working extensively with Oval on a range of Digbeth-based projects, so if you're around the area you'll have no doubt seen some of our work, including The Bond, The Tubeworks, Greenhouse and Fazeley Studios identities and signage. ”
Whilst brand identity design forms the majority of our work, we're also very lucky to be on Royal Mail's special stamps design roster. They were our very first client and we continue to work together 6.5 years later. We've designed six sets of special stamps on subjects like British Engineering marvels, Prince Albert, the Industrial Revolution and most recently, two sets of stamps celebrating the 40th anniversary of the most popular table-top miniature hobby in the world — Warhammer. Despite their tiny size stamps can generally take up to a year to design, ending in a final approval from previously the Queen, and now King Charles, thankfully we've never had a monarch reject our any of work as of yet!
We're working on numerous Digbeth projects currently — it’s been great to make our mark on the local architectural environment and play a small part in how much the area has improved aesthetically in the past couple of years. We’re also working on a new set of stamps and products for Royal Mail which are out in 2024 (sadly very confidential at the moment). And we have a large scale rebrand in progress for a US theatre called the Hult Center in Eugene, Oregon, which by the time we complete it, will be up there with our largest rebrands to date.
We're based in both Birmingham and London, but the Birmingham studio has been based in Digbeth since our inception 6.5 years ago, in the very same studio for that whole time (although we have extended a year or so ago). I'm a born and bred Brummie and Digbeth has always held a place in my heart — I used to come out here as a youngster to places like Medicine Bar and Code, as they we're back in my day, now Crazy Pedros and Zumhof. It was always a great place for a night out, but the vibe was different here — fiercely independent and it sat squarely outside the mainstream. The creativity of the area was adorned on every inch of Digbeth red brick. I had a hiatus in London for 9 years before moving back to Birmingham to set up CC and there was only one choice for to have our base and that was Digbeth, our current studio was the first and only space I looked at, and we've never looked back.
Clients. Collaborators. Connections. We work with three Digbeth-based businesses currently and have collaborated with many more local businesses and individuals here, so it not only provides us with income but also a network of like-minded people to help us execute our projects. And having half our business based in London, access to the both train stations is also invaluable for us.
“We work with three Digbeth-based businesses currently and have collaborated with many more local businesses and individuals here, so it not only provides us with income but also a network of like-minded people to help us execute our projects. ”
I think it also adds a certain gravitas to our business being based here, I've seen clients eye's light up walking them round the neighbourhood and up to our studio, so many are used to soulless office blocks and beige meeting rooms. The vibrancy and creativity of Digbeth is exactly what we align with as a studio.
The ever-changing canvas of the area is a constant source of inspiration for us, being graphically minded it's hard not to love the area's street art. But mainly the neighbourhood just feels alive, there's always something happening here, one week Spielberg is filming on Floodgate Street, the next is a Street Art Festival, the next Joe Lycett (another Digbeth resident) is filming his channel 4 show here. But on a day-to-day level simple things like a great coffee in the morning from the friendly folk in Kanteen, a lunchtime trim from Kutta, a pint after work at a host of great bars — pretty much everything you need is here.
Kanteen's hotboxes and tuna melts are a studio staple, as are the tacos and wings at Chance and Counters, we're also partial to a Baked Brick Pizza and one of Hanbao's epic burgers, oh and lets not forget Original Patty Men too!
They joy of Digbeth is the variety of entertainment around, it's hard to not have a good time here. Being a parent to two young boys nowadays I tend to be heading home as everyone else is heading out, and my favourite things to do in Digbeth tend to be a little more on the reserved side now, like a morning coffee in Kanteen, a quiet pint in the Old Crown or in the sun in the Custard Factory Courtyard. But to people visiting the area I think Ghetto Golf is a must to try, utterly bonkers, a trip to the Mockingbird for a film, a cocktail in Passing Fancies or some food in 670 Grams.
Having worked with Oval for two years I've seen their plans for the area and it's so exciting, particularly for me the plans for the Duddeston Viaduct being turned into a sky park akin to New York's Highline, I think that will be amazing.
"I've seen their plans for the area and it's so exciting, particularly for me the plans for the Duddeston Viaduct being turned into a sky park akin to New York's Highline."
The area fell into a bit of a slumber for quite a few years but has really come back to life again the past 3/4 years, the additions of Masterchef, The Bond, LOC Studios and the BBC in the near future I think are going to well and truly put Digbeth on the map as an epicentre of the creative industries and to be a part of that as a business is really exciting for us. It feels to me very much that whilst area grows and transforms that it will always keep its edge and it's soul, which is what makes Digbeth the place is it today.