The History of Design Desk

(AKA: The “About Us” page)

Impasto was a name that Stephen Hampton traded under as a freelancer since graduating from Wits Tecnikon in 1994 with a National Diploma in Graphic Design, majoring in advertising. Impasto is an Italian name of a painting technique that uses thick paint that catches the light and casts shadows.

It was very appropriate for a designer with a strong art history, especially when coupled with the payoff line of “Design with depth”.

Early years had Stephen work in multiple fields either employed full time or under the banner of Impasto. These fields were Advertising, Editorial, Print, Photography, Video, Broadcasting and inevitably… web.

Pixel Factory CC was formally registered in 2009 and continued trading under the name Impasto. It grew in size and staff into something larger. During this time, Wiaan Brand joined and with his 4 year degree in Multimedia, bringing web coding skills to the company.

Change was afoot

Covid hit and this gave us time to rethink the business. Impasto had always proven difficult to spell out over the phone and no-one actually understood what it meant, so while it was very “klevah”, it was actually quite difficult to use. Hence we came up with the name Design Desk. This was based on a domain name we had registered years earlier for a project that never saw the light of day. It is English with no tricky spelling or letter substitutes, descriptive of our business field and is way more appropriate since painting as a designer had gone the way of the dinosaur – everything is now digital and done from a designer’s desk – not at an easel.

A new direction:

The way of doing business was also going to change. Admin was taking up half our productive time. It can easily take two days to quote on a website because we have to research the appropriate solution before we even know how much to charge. Then there’s scope creep as the brief changes along the way. Graphic design studios don’t have the luxury of charging for meetings & phone calls like lawyers, charging for briefings like a plumber with their call out fee, or even charging for a project spec like a programmer would. Couple this with the fact that clients don’t know what is time consuming to do and what’s quick to do. A business card and a billboard are identical things to a designer because we are working with similar amounts of content and printing requirements, but we can’t charge the same, so ultimately, charging for our time is a fundamentally flawed business model. (We also hate maintaining timesheets, but that’s on us)

The idea of throwing time-based billing out the window is radical, but if we’re wasting so much time on the admin and research to get the job, why don’t we just include it in the job and quit moaning about it as lost time. So the Ultimate Design and Ultimate Web packages were born. One flat rate per month and we will do whatever design you throw our way, or we will build whatever website you need.