The Back Story

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In 2005 two strangers landed in London together to study Marketing Management (University of Surrey) and Human Computer Interaction (University College London). They met at Heathrow Airport before they could even take their luggage from the belt. Now that we look back, that is when Awesome & Authentic was really born, in London, in 2005. Over the following years, our conversations around Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and Marketing and Branding were interwoven, complex and thought-provoking. Little did we know that the roots of our design practice laid firm in those conversations.

The origins of Awesome & Authentic date back to 1998, when the design practice was quite literally called ‘Obscure’. In his role as the founder of Obscure, Ahmed Shuja started the business with our first US-based client. With Syma Ahmed joining the team in the noughties, as the Brand and Customer Experience lead, we built a team of incredibly talented humans in design, UX, engineering, and marketing, who brought their eccentricities and pets (sometimes) to the studio. The right mix of talents to create value for Fortune 500s, start-ups, and a range of companies from all sorts of industries and continents. 

An experimental approach quickly became the DNA of our practice. Iteration after iteration we developed and tested a design framework that guided the design philosophy for each of our clients. Inspired by purpose, we brought our unique imprint of magic and beauty to transform the human experience. The practice grew over the years as word spread about our penchant for dealing with ambiguity and asking questions that haven’t been asked before, inspiring solutions that hadn’t been imagined before. 

Before the bush fires ravaged much of Australia in 2019/20 and the global pandemic threatened to change our way of life, both Syma and Ahmed had been on a sabbatical from Obscure to work on other projects. Witnessing the collective suffering, Syma decided to restart the design practice to help businesses and humans rise to the rapidly mounting challenges posed by the ‘great accelerator’, a term coined by Ahmed Shuja in early 2020. A new direction for us was beckoning in the rumbling, reckoning a collective awakening during the crisis. She rebranded the design practice to Awesome & Authentic, to bring the predominantly positive emotion of awe and authenticity to the core of her practice. A new vision is driving the endeavours to enable humans to immerse more deeply into their humanity and business to embrace a humane ethos. We have embarked on reimagining the future of work and business.