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Heist

Photos of the team just before they closed up shop

It was a month ago now that digital design agency Heist closed it’s doors in downtown Toronto for good. Heist was a company that broke with the traditional service agency model and sought a new innovative approach. The partners Chris, Rob, Scott and Nathan were passionate about their mission to prototype the design agency of the future.

Matt photographed the team at Heist a week before their closure announcement, not knowing the closure was coming, his photos capture some of the last moments of the team. These photos illustrate the collaborative energy of Heist’s team, their beautiful open workspace on Bathurst in Toronto and even perhaps in hindsight, a few sombre moments between colleagues.

From Chris Hayes piece on Medium - "Hindsight is an asshole":

"While our hypothesis that companies are changing how they design customer experiences has proven true, the small agency model we prototyped to help them do it hasn’t shown to be a sustainable response to that change.

As we saw it, this left us with three options:

1 - Scale our company up and down as the work we want comes and goes. Doable, but brutal on culture and it’s hard to attract good talent if you have a reputation for laying people off.

2 - Take on other types of work, stuff that isn’t necessarily what we got into this for, in order to keep the lights on between the good stuff. But sustaining a talented team is impossible without the right caliber of work.

3 - Or realize what you want to do and what you need to do as a business are two different things, and leave before we’ve poisoned the well."

I met the guys at Heist for the first time just over a year ago through their Method Jam events, which sought to connect the Waterloo and Toronto design communities. The entire team have been huge supporters of Ways We Work from the very beginning, Rob and Tom were two of the first interviews I published on the site. I followed them and their work with much admiration, their drive to make real change in industries where it is needed most was and still is a source of great inspiration for me. Authenticity and genuine creative spirit are rare attributes to find in the world of business and I respect so much Heist’s decision to stay true to the type of work they set out to do. They did real, meaningful work that they believed in - the type of work everyone should be able to do.