Two Of Us

Design duo Two of Us (Ash O’Brien and Ian Caulkett) produce considered and carefully crafted work with the ambition of making ‘original and effective design available to everyone’. With 18 years of collective experience this partnership share ideas and pencils on projects of all sizes across the 176 miles that separate them, Ash in Birmingham and Ian in Brighton.

We caught up with them to find out more…

Give us an insight into who the two of you are…

We’re graphic designers and good friends, and have know each other for years. We set-up our own practice (Two of Us) in late 2015 after doing a couple of small collaborations and realising we worked really well together – complimenting each others skills and approach.

We have a lot in common; we are passionate about conceptual design, typography, juxtaposition, print design, originality and the arts in general. We have our own individual interests too, which we feel makes for a healthy relationship and adds to our partnership and its process.

How do you manage projects together given the distance?

We don’t know any different as it’s always been the way for us. Ash has been based in Birmingham for seven years and Ian in Brighton for nearly six.

We never work on the same project at the same time and prefer to think and work on something individually and then share with one another when we’re ready. Every project has equal input and whilst this might not make for the quickest outcome – it allows us to both question things and realise the best solution collectively.

There are so many tools these days to help with communication – between ourselves, clients and collaborators – it’s just about finding what works best for each individual project and client.

How has it helped you both being part of a duo?

It’s all about taking advantage of our individual skills and personalities. We don’t strive to be the same person, but celebrate the difference and use it to enhance the work that we produce. We’ve had similar backgrounds in the industry too, so share a vision of the type of practice we want to be, which helps to keep us on track and acts as a driving force.

Does your non-ToU work inform/benefit your biz?

Absolutely, it’s healthy to have space apart and work on personal projects or as part of a wider team. Ultimately it’s all about learning and we can feed this back into Two of Us projects too.

Ash is currently working on the Birmingham Design Festival with the rest of the festival team and it’s something we’re both big supporters of. Ian has a few personal projects in the mix – most of which involve photography, which is a big personal interest and something he uses to unwind from our day-to-day client work.

Luke Tonge