our approach to design

Design as conciliation: an approach to bringing people and solutions together.

The most effective designers are conciliators. Distinctly different from compromise, conciliation is the process of building trust on understanding. Conciliation uses meaningful recognition of ‘other’ perspectives to develop team and client consensus. This also establishes a basis for creating the kind of empathetic experiences that bring together audiences and objects of design. Approaches such as design thinking provide useful frameworks for conciliatory design, as well as evidence that value (and meaning!) can be created through a strategic participatory process.

Developing the insights that inform design and create personal resonance.

One of the defining features of contemporary culture is an increasingly diverse public with a profusion of perspectives and goals. Engaging those audiences means understanding individualized ways of communicating and connecting with information and emotion. And that’s how we start most of our projects; by doing research and analysis that reveals the needs and nuances of project stakeholders and users – the real people that our work serves. We use that understanding as a foundation for work that includes design in three categories: signs (visual communication and graphic applications), spaces (environments and contexts) and stories (narrative programming and sequencing). Some of these types of projects can be comprehensive in scope, and in those cases we recommend using a structured and reliable process for design management.

A simple framework that helps to focus and manage complex projects.

1.Research/  Across the diverse range of clients that we’ve worked with: architects, agencies, retailers, and non-profits, we’ve found that the best project outcomes are supported by a strong foundation in research. Accordingly, we begin our work with a period of due diligence that has included interviews, assessments, surveys, and visual documentation; methods designed to help clarify and establish overall context while generating value through fresh insights.

2.Strategy/  Insights from research drive development of a design strategy – a highly individualized, client-focused framework that articulates overarching project factors (eg: objectives, circumstances, resources, expectations) and establishes consensus on a practical means of achieving or accounting for each of those things. That framework, when combined with a timeline of activities and deliverables, becomes a formal project plan, a roadmap for succcessful design.

3.Solutions/ The strategic roadmap guides an iterative design process that combines the efficiencies of established design principles with approaches tailored to the specifics of client projects. Design is contingent on dialogue and regular reviews ensures continuous feedback, revisions and improvements as the project is steered to completion. The result is research and strategy deliberately shaped into a vital embodiment of client objectives.

Deliverables from previous projects reflect the wide range of our capabilities:
Research

Trend research
Photo documentation
Competitive research
Customer research
Survey development
Interview sessions
Retail studies
SWOT analysis
Brand audits
Channel analysis

Strategy

Brand strategy
Brand positioning
Brand architecture
Brand narrative
Design strategy
Growth strategy
Customer experience
Customer lifecycle

Visual solutions

Visual identity
Implementation guidelines
Product development
Product  graphics
Product identification
Merchandise
Labels and tags
Print and collateral
Presentations
Mood & material boards

Spatial solutions

Environment design
Exhibit design
Environmental signage
Wayfinding systems
Information design
Customer circulation
Displays
Retail graphics