A Smile in the Mind is the definitive book on ‘witty thinking’ – humour, ideas, playfulness – in design and branding. First published in 1996, the original edition by Beryl McAlhone and THE PARTNERS CO-FOUNDER David Stuart became a seminal text for a generation of designers.


20 years later, the book has been extensively revised and updated for the next generation by new co-authors Greg Quinton and Nick Asbury.

Published by Phaidon in March 2016, the new edition makes the case that the story of wit in the last 20 years is one of ‘scaling up’.

As designers have enjoyed access to new technologies and greater freedom to move across disciplinary boundaries, so the realm of wit has become larger. Wit powers big brands, communicates serious social messages, and shapes not only the way products are marketed, but also the products themselves and the environments in which we encounter them.















Greg Quinton has over 25 years’ experience in branding and design at The Partners. He became Executive Creative Director in 2003 and has helped expand the business to New York and Singapore. He has won in excess of 200 international design awards including Black and Yellow D&AD pencils, and has work in the permanent collection at the V&A, London. Passionate about design education, he was D&AD Chair of Education before joining the Executive team. 

Nick Asbury is a writer for branding and design, and one half of the creative partnership Asbury & Asbury, whose projects include Disappointments Diary (an appointments diary with a series of disappointing twists), Corpoetics (corporate language rearranged into poetry), Pentone (the verbal equivalent of Pantone) and A6 Notebook (one of a series of notebooks inspired by British A-roads and standard paper sizes).


Beryl McAlhone is a writer with a particular interest in design. She began her career as a journalist, and has edited the women’s pages of The Observer and the design magazines Designer and Direction. She now works on a wide variety of design-related assignments. These have included research and writing for the British Design Consultancy Survey, the London Institute and the Chartered Society of Designers.

David Stuart was a founding partner and Creative Director of The Partners, the award-winning creative design consultancy. He has nearly 40 years’ experience in both design and branding, helping and advising companies on how best they can express themselves. Throughout his career David has encouraged more creative collaboration within the industry and promoted the greater use of wit in design. He was President of D&AD in 2001.  


16 September–6 November, Part of London Design Festival

As part of London Design Festival we are hosting an exhibition at The Gallery at Foyles, featuring work from the new edition of 'A Smile in the Mind: Witty thinking in graphic design'. The exhibition will feature work from Kessels Kramer, NB Studio, Noma Bar as well as Dominic Wilcox among others.

The LDF is an annual event that promotes London's creativity, drawing in the country's greatest thinkers, practitioners, retailers and educators to a deliver an unmissable celebration of design.

The book shows how witty thinking powers some of the world’s biggest brands and most memorable creative work, while the exhibition will allow you to experience this wit first hand.  

The exhibition kicks off 16 September as part of the London Design Festival and will run for 6 weeks. The Gallery at Foyles, 107 Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0DT, free admission.