We Are Worldwide

Thanks to our networks, we’re uniquely positioned to answer
business-critical questions in established, emerging, and atypical markets.

The Core Team

Meet the strategists, cultural insight specialists and design
analysts at Space Doctors.

Fiona McNae

CEO

The star around which Space Doctors orbit, Fiona’s vision of harnessing cultural and semiotic techniques to create positive change for brands and businesses drives everything we do.

A razor-sharp intellect with encyclopaedic industry knowledge and a magnetic enthusiasm that rivals a force of nature, Fiona is the one to ask for a look into the future.

Al Deakin

Director

Al has pioneered the commercial application of semiotics and cultural analysis for almost two decades. He joined Space Doctors in 2005, and today he is especially involved in helping our clients develop their strategic cultural capabilities.

When he isn’t grappling with some of our client’s toughest questions, you’re likely to find him on-stage delivering papers to expert audiences, or picking up awards for his work from the market research community.

Cato Hunt

Director

Cato’s enthusiastic exploration of cultural meaning is infectious, yet she remains calm and focused on each challenge. She champions expanding the Space Doctors network, forming unexpected partnerships and working with clients to advance themselves in areas like sensory branding.

With a love of vintage but always looking forward, she has an instinct for future innovation, which borders on the prescient.

Gareth Lewis

Director - Asia Regional Lead

Gareth is our human Bletchley Park. His ability to deconstruct the largest of ideas into clear and workable parts provides clarity where others see chaos.

Well-mannered and charismatic, his exterior calm belies a hunger for new experiences and a drive to take us, our clients, and semiotics itself into new and unexplored territory.

Helen Wilkinson

Project Coordinator

Embodying the Space Doctors motto to do whatever it takes, Helen quickly established herself as an invaluable part of the team.

Her adaptability isn’t limited to the workplace, as evidenced by her love of outdoor exploration and her experience travelling across four continents. A self-described ‘grafter’, when she isn’t working hard making sure everything runs smoothly in the office, she’s out discovering new parts of Brighton or doing volunteer work.

Steve Seth

Director

Steve is Space Doctors’ semiotic seer. He is our reference for gold standard, mind-opening insight and commands an almost omniscient understanding of the shifting landscape of brands and culture.

He is at his happiest making sense of complexity, a task he deftly accomplishes drawing on his wealth of experience and breadth of talents, whether that be developing an industry-shaping view on cultural change, to making a mean Chipotle sauce.

Mariah Hartman

Director

With positivity and a relentless joie de vivre, Mariah is able to carve a path of insight through complexity, get to the salient details of a project, and transform them into signposts that point to the strategic future.

What’s more, her warmth and excitement mean everyone wants to go with her.

Dario Utreras

Creative

Dario is a craftsman. Softly spoken, warm and charming he may be, but Dario’s capacity for visual expression is staggering.

His obsession with design and attention to detail means he crafts outputs and ideas into things of beauty. A hand printed booklet? A conversation about the Japanese equivalent of Helvetica? Dario is your (gentle)man.

Gemma Jones

Associate Director

Gemma has an extraordinary talent for leading you beyond your comfort zone into the unknown. She says ‘yes’ to any opportunity, whether it’s cooking for a yoga retreat or developing our Cymbol app.

Playfully provocative and unfazed by challenges, her fierce intelligence will make the complicated simple, the struggle a victory, and she’ll do it all with a smile on her face.

James Woodhead

Associate Director

From packaged consumer goods to airlines to luxury, James earned a varied set of client-side stripes before moving into strategic brand consultancy. At Space Doctors, James’ experience guarantees he’s able to demystify the complex, make sense of the problematic and be always able to find the clear strategic way forward when others can’t.

James is truly proud to be one of our master facilitators and likes nothing more than getting his sleeves rolled-up with a team, challenging them to answer the ‘So What Does It All Mean For Us?’ question. He gets a real kick out from helping clients uncover compelling new meaningful futures and become even more brilliant at what they do thanks to his love of building strong capabilities.

As our resident Yorkshireman, James is known for his pragmatism and dry humour. Also as our resident Yorkshireman, he makes the best tea in the entire agency. No contest.

James Mayer

Financial Controller

As the person responsible for all Space Doctors’ day-to-day finances, James’ role is incredibly varied – from the P&L, to forecasting and offer development, to arranging the logistics of expanding to Singapore. He juggles the needs and expectations of our diverse clients and the very varied sectors we work in, helping to tailor project plans so each client interaction is seamless.

After years in big pharma, tourism and financial services, James relishes Space Doctors’ agility, constant activity and dedicated team. Hailing from the West Country, he also values our Brighton office’s close proximity to the sea, spending his weekends surfing, sailing and swimming.

Emma Pearson

Project Coordinator

Emma’s sensitivity and warmth belies her ability to solve any dilemma – from identifying gaps in the market on digital video platforms, or acting as a PA to the stars from the worlds of pop music and television, to volunteering her time at her local stables where she works with horses as an accredited healer.

Caring for animals and iconoclastic 70s musicians may be her passions, but she’s equally adept at digital production, organising large scale projects or playing the guitar (so long as its Bolan or Bowie!)

Malex Salamanques

Associate Director

Armed with keen insight and a determination to find new applications for semiotics, Malex will push your thinking in new directions with quiet force.

Saturated with the study and practice of design, her unparalleled visual intelligence enables her to present complex concepts in radically new yet intuitive ways that will take your breath away.

Holly Gibbs

Assistant Accountant

Where to begin? Film-maker, urban dancer, self-taught seamstress, and the brawn behind an entire building in The Gambia, home to nothing less than a milling machine - Holly is multi-talented and up for anything.

But it’s her attention to detail, knack for numbers and all-round make-it-happen attitude that makes Holly a vital force as part of the finance team. As one of the latest to join Space Doctors, we’re thrilled to have her on board.

Matt Oliver

Project Manager

Deeply observant, inquisitive, and as interested in Marcus Aurelius as he is in Drive, Matt draws from disparate fields to take his work in unexpected directions.

He has an insatiable desire to learn more and an artist’s appreciation for creative expression that he applies in the search for an original solution to every project.

Fliss Macaulay

HR Manager

As Space Doctors’ emotional radar, Fliss is the epitome of ‘people person’. She has the light touch that holds everything up, and an uncanny ability to produce exactly what you want before you even know you want it.

It is her talent of truly connecting with her colleagues and the work environment that make her our resident cat herder.

Eddy Dessaso

Creative

Eddy is the product of his passions: a dynamic collision between technology and form.

It’s often a challenge keeping up with this seasoned adventurer as he cuts through the stationary traffic of mainstream design with a sense of purpose and discovery to arrive at the most fascinating and forward thinking expressions.

Grace Flavin

Project Manager

Grace lives in the present. Constantly switched-on and always observing, nothing gets past her. She is able to zero in on the most critical elements of a concept, and isn’t afraid to jettison stale ideas that are standing in the way of a project’s focus.

From Mad Men to Max Factor, Grace is a real pop culture enthusiast.

Nikou Nazaripour

Creative

Nikou wears a number of Creative Department hats. From using design semiotics to illuminate challenging client questions, to bringing brand opportunities to life via story worlds and experience design, she brings a strong visual eye to the team.

A powerhouse of emergent culture, Nikou has created illustrations for music promoters, bands and festivals, and has designed layouts for children’s books and newspaper editorials. She never misses a new music gig or a zine fair, roars round town on her Scrambler, and is a skilled ceramicist, jewellery maker, and silkscreen and etching printmaker.

Nikou loves working with the meaningful cultural theory we bring to insight at Space Doctors, uncovering answers via the chemistry of visual analysis.

Colette Sensier

Project Executive

As part of the Insight team, Colette uses semiotics and cultural analysis to uncover new discoveries about cultures, sectors and rapidly shifting attitudes in an ever more complex world. She joined Space Doctors in 2017 after spending several years as a freelance analyst, copywriter and journalist, and loves the way that we incorporate numerous disciplines and voices into our work.

Colette holds a BA in English from Cambridge, an MA in Creative Writing from UEA, and published a book of poetry with Eyewear Press in 2012. She brings a focus on creativity to her work at Space Doctors, developing new thinking for brands, by turning observations into insights, and then to stories.

Bob

The Office Dog

Our Expert Networks

Our proprietary, worldwide network of academics, thought-leaders,
cultural experts and semioticians.

Our Expert Network includes some of the world’s leading semioticians, academics, thinkers and design strategists.

While our in-house teams are familiar with many of the world’s regions, we also know the value of experts on the ground. Our associates overseas keep our knowledge fresh and dig out local nuances which make all the difference to our clients. We have worked with most of them over years; they know our methodology intimately and work with us as a seamless partnership.

Thanks to them, we can take you anywhere in the world.

The global reach of our network gives us access to the world’s farthest-flung regions. It enables us to offer you fully grounded cultural insight, getting deep into the texture and detail of how people see their world. Our global experts are there to open up these symbolic gateways to their cultures and regions: they help make authentic global conversations possible.

Our Cymbol Eyes

Our bespoke community of cultural edge-finders and category experts.

Our Cymbol community are at the forefront of culture.

They live and breathe their cultural passions, analysing them from the inside. Amongst them, you’ll find fashion bloggers, artists, film-makers, entrepreneurs and more. They’re a diverse bunch, but united by their utter love for what they do. They know their area of culture like the back of their hand as they’re immersed in it each day. They’re also shaping change themselves, creating the stories and ideas that will seem obvious tomorrow.

Cymbol members offer a unique perspective.

They don’t take an overview, sitting back and analysing like an academic. Instead they pick up insights immersively and intuitively, gathering them in context and responding emotionally. This gives us a raw, real-time sense of what matters – Cymbol is a direct line to the people shaping our cultural futures.

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