Ashleigh Otto is a young self-motivated, team-oriented, critical, and hungry designer beginning her journey in EGD. She was loosely brought up in the Bauhaus tradition-- studying Industrial Design at Virginia Tech’s school of Architecture and Design.
While studying at Virginia Tech, Ashleigh Otto built a foundation in practical, empathetic, and critical design methodologies. Her approach to design and projects is identifying problems, and seeking opportunities for design solutions. Where other people may only see a sign or need to make a space pretty, Ashleigh sees the opportunity to bring a client’s brand, values, and missions into the tangible world. She approaches each project with an understanding (often loose) of the stakeholders involved -- fabricators, craftsmen, manufacturers, end users, secondary users, and the greater environment.
Currently Ashleigh works as a designer and de facto multidisciplinary team member at the design build signage company Gropen in Charlottesville, Virginia. Her projects range from exhibit design, code signage, art pieces, wayfinding, and identification signage. She is involved in many stages of the project from initial concepts, needs assessment, evaluating for regulatory compliance, all the way to technical drawings, production ready artwork, and installation documentation. Due to her experience in fabrication and cabinetry shops she can even be found on the shop floor or with the install crew during peak times, and values this experience and how it may inform her design work.
Ashleigh Otto’s approach and core fundamental definition to design is that good design is alchemy, but alchemy through the pursuit of Platonic forms. Good design takes inexpensive raw materials, appropriate work, and through a transformative process carefully planned and executed by the designer-turned- alchemist, it creates value. This value is inherent in the qualities of the tangible product itself as well as intangible value through the experience that it creates for its manufacturers, fabricators, and end users.
This means that good design uses appropriate raw materials to the fullest of their essence, it plans for these materials to be manufactured in a way that suits their characteristics, and solve problems in such a way that one would find any alternative inconceivable.