Happy Birthday Balloons held up against a purple background

Uncharacteristically, this April 1st, PENSON are putting the jokes aside to get out the balloons…

That’s right, PENSON is 15! In what seems like the blink of an eye, we’ve gone from Newcomer of the Year to one of the world’s leading Architecture and Design practices. It’s been no easy feat – our CEO, Lee Penson started out from a rented bedroom with dodgy carpet in Tooting Bec, then upgraded to our offices in Waterloo with some seriously retro computers – before finally settling at our amazing HQ in Shad Thames. We’ve taken the world by storm, working with some of the biggest global names including THGGoogleYouTubeSony PlayStation and Jay Z to name but a few, so we have more than a few reasons to celebrate our success over the last 15 years!

Lee Penson sketching at the start of his career
iconLee Penson
Lee Penson presenting to a crowd
iconJO&JOE Design Day 2017

Our fearless founder & CEO Lee, has a habit of dropping iconic one-liners – as honest as they are astute, they never fail to draw a smile. Throwing it back to 2006; the year Daniel Craig became James Bond, England crashed out of the World Cup on penalties, and the last ever weekly edition of Top of the Pops was aired,  Lee voiced this nugget of wisdom – “I sense we are onto something here with PENSON” – and boy was he right (when is he ever not?!)

As we reminisce over a slice of cake, it’s easy to see why PENSON is so special. As favourite projects are thrown about, wild & boozy socials recounted, game-changing award ceremonies are mentioned, and office life mischief is reenacted, it’s so clear that team PENSON embodies our mantra that great design makes life better. We love what we do, and that shines through. And with all the reminiscing, we dug back into our archives and discovered our colourful, full-of-life past. Here are just some of our favourite images from the last 15 years that made the cut:

Lee Penson and colleagues in black-tie dancing
Lee and Lucy Penson singing karaeokee
Team penson in black tie ready to go to the FX Awards 2018
Lee and colleagues on a bench looking up at the camera in black and white
Team penson in paintballing outfits
Team penson on a rib in life jackets during their summer social waving
team penson sat around a table in milan during milan design week 2018
Lan and Asta in yellow hard hats next to two lifesize lego figures

PENSON’s Timeline Throwback:

2004 – Lee Penson founds PENSON in tiny rented bedroom in Tooting Bec

2005 – Major project Go Ahead Brighton Completes

2006 – PENSON wins Mixology Newcomer of the Year 

2007 – Lee scoops FX International Breakthrough Talent Award

2008 – Building – ‘Best 40 under 40’

2012 – PENSON wins Mixlogy Design Practice of the Year & Google Super HQ wins Leed Gold

2013 – PENSON wins Interior Design Practice of the Year – twice! PENSON moves to studio in Shad Thames

2014 – A decade of PENSON & the London team expands

2016 – PENSON creates new industry concept in hospitality, JO&JOE

2017 – Fifth Tallest Skyscraper in the world – Lotte World Tower – opens. Lee is keynote speaker at MIPIM 2017

2018 – PENSON announce 1 Million Sq. Ft. campus for The Hut Group, to be completed in 2022

2019 – Bluebells Restaurant new location completes – 15 years after the first restaurant launched

PENSON team all sat eating pizza in the meeting room

So, what does CEO Lee make of 15 years in the biz?


“PENSON is 15 today. It’s been a cracking ride meeting some great people, saying goodbye to some not so great people, going to some great awards parties with various wins, massive bar bills (the biggest being £8k when we won FX Global Design Studio OTY). Yacht racing with lunatics, motor racing with talent, being an official sponsor of LeMans 24hours, meeting clients like Jay-Z, the dinners out, the late nights talking waffle, eating waffles, drawing, drawing and drawing. From our first ever 3Dmax model going straight to the front cover of FX Magazine Sept 16, to taking our first ever commission (Brighton’s Time Machine) butt naked – having just got out the shower after a chaotic house move……..! But in all, we’ve stayed true to what we set out to do: inventing life-enhancing experiences and creating spaces that energise people and daily life in general. I can proudly say that we make people happier. From our tiny office in Waterloo – to employing people globally – we started out creating the next big thing and now we’re delivering THG’s 1 million sq. ft-sized future campus. Global projects are falling at our feet and we can’t wait for the next 15 years ahead!” – Lee Penson 2019.


We’ll be back later this week to have a look at what the next 15 years have in store. We’ll also be celebrating across April for our birthday month – so be sure to check back on our birthday antics!