AKQA Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer James Hilton is leaving the agency to open his own London design firm, AdAge reports.
He will be succeeded by Rei Inamoto, who was already AKQA’s lead creative for the U.S. and Asia. Also as a result of Hilton’s departure, the agency is promoting Europe creative lead Duan Evans to international executive creative director, responsible for overseeing creative across Europe, Asia and South America. Hilton will not be completely severing ties with the agency, however, as he will serve as chairman of a new group entitled AKQA Alumni, “through which alumni will host events, share ideas and provide mentoring for the next generation of talent.”
Hilton and CEO Ajaz Ahmed founded AKQA around 20 years ago, expanding the shop over time to include over fourteen offices globally. WPP bought the agency back in 2012 and, according to AdAge, it is unclear if Hilton was offered an earnout as part of the deal. AKQA declined to comment to that publication on the question. Hilton’s new product and design firm is called AtelierStrange.
“My 20-year journey with Ajaz and AKQA has been nothing short of transformational,” Hilton said in a statement. “While I am sad to be leaving the family that has made me who I am today, I am excited to begin this new journey into the unknown. Since I can remember, I have loved creating worlds. Building physical environments and the objects with which to fill them is the next logical step in my creative development.”