October 25, 2013
Alums Send Message on Design Gestalt
: Hum Creative's Kate Harmer (DE '05) checks the projection screen as colleague Drew Hamlet (DE '10) speaks . Photo by Mark Bocek.
: Freshmen design students and faculty listen to presentations. Photo by Mark Bocek.
: Their designs for the group She Him's CD covers and collateral on the screen, Kate and Drew explain their process. Photo by Mark Bocek.
: Jessica Katona and Morgan Henry of Digital Kitchen show a team montage and preach collaboration and professional flexibility. Photo by Mark Bocek.
: Ben Fuglevand (DE ’12) makes a point while his Callison colleague, Beta Hsu, left, and Laura Libby (DE ’07) of Interior Architects listen. Photo by Mark Bocek.
: Laura Libby (DE ’07) of Interior Architects shows her historical studies executed for the re-design of downtown tower. Photo by Mark Bocek.
: Tim Darragh (DE ’08) of Wunderman Network shares his professional development, including time working with Xbox.. Photo by Mark Bocek.
: Derek Vander Griend (DE ’13) and Lindell Serrin (DE ’11) of design firm Wexley School for Girls answer questions from the audience. Photo by Mark Bocek.
Collaboration, flexibility, conceptual ability, cross-discipline work, internship are design alumni watchwords delivered to Cornish freshmen.
For the Cornish freshmen design students who were listening carefully, a strong message was sent by alumni in graphic, interior and motion design. The event was fairly ordinary, one of many “Freshmen Foundation Panels,” this one held on October 25. Time and again, the speakers drove home the point that the traditional boxes we put design disciplines into have broken down, that roles in important projects are fluid, that design firms are on the lookout for thinking designers. There is an increasing fluidity to the world of design, a “oneness” or gestalt. And that it’s a good thing.
A full house in Notion room 1 heard from Kate Harmer (DE ’05) and Drew Hamlet (DE ’10) of Hum Creative, Derek Vander Griend (DE ’13) and Lindell Serrin (DE ’11) of design firm Wexley School for Girls, Ben Fuglevand (DE ’12) and Beta Hsu of Callison, Laura Libby (DE ’07) of Interior Architects, Tim Darragh (DE ’08) of Wunderman Network and Morgan Henry and Jessica Katona of Digital Kitchen. The projects shown by these designers were high-impact, high-profile work for major clients, such as Starbucks, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Los Angeles International Airport and more.
Several of the speakers also pointed out that it’s common to start out in one field and gravitate towards another. Kate Harmer told the students she’d started out as a painter at Cornish, but found her calling in graphic design. After taking an M.F.A. from Rhode Island School of Design, she returned to Seattle, free-lanced for a bit, then formed her own firm, Hum Creative. She reached into the Cornish talent pool right away for her first hire, Drew Hamlet. The two put up a slide that showed all the roles they played everyday above and beyond the traditional work of a graphic designer, as copywriters, illustrators and web designers, just to name a few.
Interior design alum Ben Fuglevand of international architecture firm Callison emphasized that the image of his profession as “interior decorators” was very outdated, that interior work has taken on an increasingly architectural characterand is actually influencing the built environment inside and out. The work of Laura Libby, who is with industry leader Interior Architects, is demonstrative of this. Ben was the first of a string of speakers to underscore the importance of getting an internship as a first step out of college. He added that, like his graphic arts brethren, his go to app is InDesign. When asked about work with environmental graphics, he answered that Callison often works with graphics. Laura and Ben both strongly demonstrated how storytelling is used in their interior practice.
Morgan Henry listed all the types of artists involved in the creation of DK’s pieces. He and UW-educated Jessica told a number of stories of how flexible and project-oriented all the designers at the firm have to be. He said that at DK the ability to drop into a collaboration and make an idea work was paramount.
Above all, Morgan said, Digital Kitchen is looking for thinking designers, and several of the other speakers also highlighted a prospective hire’s ability to work conceptually as crucial.
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