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Ammunition

For leaving its mark in the most visible places.

Ammunition

The San Francisco–based design studio began 2014 with the showstopping tiny C3 “action cam” for Polaroid at the Consumer Electronics Show (the name was later changed to the Cube). Then the products it helped create kept on wowing. A sampling from the year: The Smartisan T1 smartphone gained a Chinese startup global interest, with 2.74 million people watching its debut online (May); Beats sold to Apple for $3 billion (also May); Adobe’s Ink and Slide digital iPad pen became a hot accessory (June); its iPad-swiveling Square Stand won IDEA Best in Show (August); and it won 10 Spark awards at the prestigious international design competition (November).

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This is all the more impressive given how rough 2014 was for many design studios. Many brands, having caught the design religion, are now investing in in-house teams, which is hurting the bottom lines of the likes of Frog and Smart Design. But Ammunition says it’s thriving because it has evolved with the industry: It frequently partners up with clients as equity holders, so that brands feel as if the design studio is also part of the house. “We typically work a lot harder and get more deeply involved than people expect,” says Matt Rolandson, one of Ammunition’s three partners. “Over the years we have collectively acquired a very strong sense of investment in the overall success of the organizations we are working with, not just our part of the puzzle.”

And the types of companies it works with continues to expand. Last year’s output also included the Leeo Smart Alert, a $100 plug-and-play accessory that listens for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and alerts users of the emergency; $3,000 surfboards for Octovo; and cookware for Williams-Sonoma. In previous years, output included gorgeous grills for Fuego and the beautifully designed (but competitively outclassed) Nook for Barnes and Noble. “Our objective is to work alongside extraordinary people,” Rolandson says. “These kinds of extraordinary teams come in a lot of different forms.”

[Product Photos: courtesy of Ammunition]

About the author

Linda Tischler writes about the intersection of design and business for Fast Company.

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