Ann Harakawa is Principal and CEO of Two Twelve. Ann has been an entrepreneur since the age of sixteen, when she found a bolt of vintage Hawaiian fabric and rallied a crew of family and friends to design and sew bathing suits for a local head shop and clothing boutique. In the five and a half decades since, she has developed an unerring sense of how design and business complement each other. At Two Twelve, Ann has dedicated herself to bringing value to clients, and designing strategic solutions to solve their most complex public information problems.
Following her early days in beachwear design, Ann attended the Rhode Island School of Design and became an early assistant to famed glassblower Dale Chihuly. With her RISD undergraduate degree in hand, Ann arrived at 212 York Street where she earned her MFA from Yale’s Graphic Design Department. After stints at Vanity Fair and her own design firm, wherein she worked closely with David Rockefeller’s art advisors to document his unpublished collection of Asian Art, Ann joined Two Twelve as Principal in 1994.
Through all of her enterprises, Ann has sought to enrich her communities through creative strategies and design that solves problems and builds social equity. Her contributions have helped shape the New York City civic and business landscape for the past two decades. During this time, she has led the visioning and communications design efforts for several of Mayor Bloomberg’s administration initiatives, including the sustainability civic blueprint - PlaNYC, NYC 2012 - New York’s ambitious Olympic Bid, and the design of Bloomberg LP’s sustainability and social responsibility reporting. Her portfolio also includes close collaboration with real estate developers on major institutions such as the Empire State Building, Hudson Yards, and Grand Central Terminal. Today, she is guiding the environmental graphic design efforts at some of the area’s most prestigious healthcare providers, including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center facilities, and NYU Langone Health, as it re-imagines the sprawling urban health care campus’ patient wayfinding experience. She is also leading extensive transportation projects, including an in-depth assessment of the wayfinding experience for WMATA, Washington DC’s regional subway system.
Her work to develop cities, with an emphasis on sustainable cities, has fueled her return to Hawai‘i and her passion for contributing to her home state’s urban development. There, she led the design team in creating the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Wayfinding Master Plan for O‘ahu. In the summer of 2019, she co-chaired the second annual TOD Futures workshop in Hawai‘i for Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), where she is an adjunct. In the spring of 2020, she co-teaches a GSAPP class entitled, “User-Centered Design for Emerging Digital-Physical Environments”. Though she is largely based in New York, Ann spends significant time on these projects while managing the firm’s Honolulu office in the city’s historic Chinatown neighborhood.
In addition to her leadership at Two Twelve, Ann has been an active supporter of nonprofits in and beyond the design sector. She brings her skills in communications and design thinking to the Design Trust for Public Space as current Board Member and the Board of Governors of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. She has previously served on the board of the Art Director’s Club, based in New York.
Ann was a member of the 2006 Japanese-American Delegation sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership. In 2012, she received the prestigious Asian Women in Business Award, and in 2018, Ann was appointed to the Sterling Network NYC, an initiative of the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation to build a network of civic leaders who will work together to enhance economic mobility across New York City.
Beyond her impressive design and civic contributions, Ann is a keen tennis player and surfer. Most early mornings she can be found either hitting the courts in Brooklyn or surfing dawn patrol on O‘ahu’s South Shore.
View Ann Harakawa's work and read more about her firm Two Twelve.