CVG Chapter

Chapter Chairs

Hannah Anderson, Construction Administration Lead at Kolar Design in Cincinnati
Hannah Anderson
Margaret Vennemeyer, BHDP Architecture
Margaret Lange
Explore SEGD content about your city

SEGD Award Winning Projects

Duke Energy Center, City of Cincinnati Department of Transportation and Engineering, Sussman/Prejza & Company, LMN Architects
Duke Energy Center
Scrabble on the Cincinnati Skyline, Mike Ruehlman, University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning
Scrabble on the Cincinnati Skyline
Formica Corporation, Kuhlmann Leavitt
Formica Corporation
Ohio & Erie National Heritage Canalway Communications, Cloud Gehshan Associates
Ohio & Erie Canalway

Cincinnati, OH Blog

UC | DAAP Building, Aronoff 4400

SEGD Members, UC DAAP Alumni, and friends: Join us this Wednesday evening for an inspiring talk by Cybelle Lewis Jones!

In What is Museum Design? Interdisciplinary Trends and Personalized Experiences, Ms. Jones will explore the world of Museum and Exhibition Design through her 30+ years of leadership in the ever evolving, elusive, and often unknown field of design and how it is leading new interdisciplinary trends in design, media and architecture.

Cybelle Jones is a Principal and Executive Director at Gallagher & Associates, based in Washington D.C., specializing in museum master planning and exhibit design. She has over 30 years of experience directing projects ranging from highly articulated interactive cultural experiences to fine art and historical museums.

October Write About It

Jay Rottinghaus
Business Development, Kolar Design
[email protected]

It is Friday afternoon - almost 3:00 PM. The day, the week is coming to a close. In typical fashion, I am just sitting down to reflect on what was accomplished and what has been bumped to next week’s to-do list (shoot, I still need to fill out my time sheet).

I should share that I love what I do. I have been involved in the design community for the past 20 years or so. I spent many years at a traditional marketing agency, years in the architecture community and most recently at “brand experience” firms. Two months ago, I had the privilege of joining Kolar Design. I share all that only to say, I have been involved in the Greater Cincinnati Design Community for a long time.
As I reflect on the week and plan for next, it has struck me how amazing my next few weeks are going to be. Has anyone really looked at all the really cool things going on?
Brandemonium: International Brand Conference + Festival  – 10/11 to 10/14
This has the potential to really put Cincinnati on the map (more than we already are). As organizer Bill Donabedian said, “The entire concept is similar to a South by Southwest (SXSW) experience, bringing the essence of brands to life and engaging the public. If your work is touched by branding – everything from brand management to package design – Brandemonium is the place to be.”

BLINK Cincinnati – 10/12  to 10/15
Overlapping with Brandemonium, BLINK is going to be spectactular. They say it will be one of the largest light, art and projection mapping events in the nation. Per the website, “The four-day event will feature large-scale projection mapping installations, murals, urban artscapes, media light and interactive art in Cincinnati, OH. BLINK will span 20 city blocks, from Cincinnati's Banks to Findlay Market. Food and beverages will also be available. BLINK is free and open to the public - no tickets are required. Locations are strategically placed along the Streetcar Route.

Northern Kentucky University in:sight design exhibition – going on now through 10/20
This is a cool art exhibit focused on strategy and “creative risk”. There are about 20 local firms participating in the exhibit. They will also have a reception (tied into Brandemonium) on Oct 12 from 7pm to 9pm).

Storyfest – 10/14
While I am not familiar with this event, I really want to go! As the website says, “StoryFest Cincy is an interactive story-telling event celebrating the spark of community in Cincinnati. Check it out at

Memory Building: Engaging Society in Self-Reflective Museums – 10/14 to 10/18
Organized by ICMEMO & ICAMT this is a joint conference that will kick-off at The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. For more information, visit:

DesignBuild Cincy – 10/28 to 10/29
“Dubbed as the City’s only curated, showcase of design and fine craftsmanship,” Designbuild Cincy will not disappoint. Not to mention the location is the newly renovated Music Hall in OTR. Visit for information and tickets.

CDA 21 Awards & Ceremony – 11/3
For many of us in the design community, we always look forward to this great event and celebration!!! Registration for design submissions and reception is now open. (Deadline to enter is 10/20).

Put simply, I am proud to be a part of this City and I am proud that my company, Kolar Design, is a part of these fantastic events. I think this is our chance to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. It will be a point in time that I believe will elevate this our region even higher. So don’t miss out! Get out there and get involved in these events – you wont be disappointed. See you out there!

BLINK Cincinnati

BLINK Cincinnati will be a four-day light and art festival spanning 20 city blocks and four zones held Oct. 12-15, 2017. The Banks (Zone 1) will contain a 10-sided wall, 360-degree walk-through experience at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center; an illuminated sculpture relief wall at Great American Ball Park (rendered here); a front lawn interactive media exhibit; an underground metro station light installation and media event; and enhanced lighting effects at Smale Riverfront Park and Carol Ann's Carousel.

[Renderings and excerpt from WCPO Cincinnati feature: “BLINK Cincinnati: Festival to light up Downtown, Over-the-Rhine”]

BLINK Cincinnati

Members and friends of SEGD Cincinnati: Join us for this one-of-a-kind workshop experience!


Gather over lunch and get inspired through presentation and practice while we dig a little deeper into the impact of Empathy and Innovation in design. Mary Dietrich of Kolar Design will be speaking to our group about measuring the success of empathy through design and will share some of the learnings that were quite unexpected as a result. This abridged talk comes from her full presentation at the Eighth Annual Patient Experience: Empathy + Innovation Summit that took place May 22–24, 2017, at the Cleveland Convention Center in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.

"As practitioners, we are challenged by our clients to solve complex wicked problems. Most often, these problems are muli-factored and may or may not be self-evident. Regardless, they require that we understand/explore the root cause of the issue before landing upon a solution. This session explores paradoxes that the Kolar team has encountered through work within the healthcare space in hopes of providing inspiration for where to unearth the root of your client’s next wicked problem."
– Mary Dietrich EDAC, Managing Director, Creative Services, Kolar Design

As a extra engagement piece, our entire group will practice empathetic listening during a live, breakaway session in small groups, using the "Questions & Empathy" card deck produced by Sub Rosa.

This free event and lunch is provided by our host, BHDP Architecture.



August Write About It

Steve Aust
Marketing Manager, Cima Network
[email protected]

It’s been 17 years since I began my love affair with signage and environmental branding. That’s when I was hired at Signs of the Times Magazine. Wade Swormstedt, Signs of the Times’ then-publisher and editor, forewarned me, “Thinking about signs won’t just become a job, it will become a passion.” How right he was. I often make purchasing decisions based on the condition of a store’s sign. When I travel, I take pictures of interesting signs (with the exception of my honeymoon – my wife put the kibosh on that!). After 16 years at Signs of the Times, I decided that I needed a new challenge to evolve my career. Bill Lockett and Keith, the co-founders of Montgomeryville, PA-based Cima Network, are longtime friends, and they took me on to handle marketing duties for them.

SEGD has been a common thread throughout my professional journey. I’ve met scores of its members during my professional tenure at Signs of the Times and Cima Network, and they’ve been universally gracious and forthcoming with design insights and project information. Numerous projects have brought my imagination to life. To highlight them all would generate a ponderously long blog, so I’ll simply showcase a half-dozen of my all-time favorites. They reflect the vital role that signage and environmental branding play in engaging, informing, directing and emotionally connecting users to spaces.


College Football Hall of Fame

If I have conversation with you between August and January, you’ll learn that I’m a rabid college football fan.  The current incarnation of the College Football Hall of Fame, which the National Football Foundation opened in Atlanta in 2014, captures the traditions, pageantry and passion that embody college football.

For the full story, click here.

College Football HOF College Football HOF

Presidential City

Upscale property developer Post Brothers purchased Philadelphia’s Presidential City and invested $100 million in transforming it into a destination address.  Cima Network fabricated a 35-ft.-wide monument sign and 65-ft.-tall obelisk that provide Presidential City with a commanding presence.

For the full story, click here.

Presidential City Pylon Presidential City Wall Sign

Regal Nanuet

Movie theaters hold a special place in the American cultural pantheon. Before there was a TV in every home, theaters served as an outlet of both entertainment and information.

Regal Entertainment Group has brought back the majesty of bygone moviehouses with their signage. Cima Network developed the environmental branding for Regal’s Nanuet, NY location.

For the full article, click here.

Regal Night View Regal Daylight

Blackout Signs Bower Bird

Blackout Signs, which is located in San Marcos, TX, built this sign for an eclectic San Marcos antique shop. The bower bird is known for making its nest by scavenging for found objects, and this vibrant neon sign embodies the unique wares that Bower Bird proprietress Katinka Pinka sells.

For the full story, click here.

Bower Bird

Mercy West

I couldn’t write this post without including a local project! Kolar Design collaborated with a team of architects and two Cincinnati-area fabricators to create a warm, welcoming healthcare environment for Mercy West, a hospital on Cincinnati’s West Side.

To read the full story, click here

Mercy West Mercy West

American Sign Museum

Although the American Sign Museum certainly doesn’t constitute a sign “project” the inspiration I’ve derived from visiting there is worth mentioning.  It presents an eye-popping array of diverse signage, providing a visitor with a compelling milieu of signage and environmental branding.

For more information about the American Sign Museum, click here.

Sign Museum Sign Museum


CALLING ALL DESIGNERS / WRITERS / ENTHUSIASTS! We are looking for future contributors to our "Write About It" blog series. Please contact us at [email protected] for details.

July 2017 Blog

Nicole R. Roberts
Creative Lead, Kolar Design
[email protected]

This summer I returned back to my alma mater to team teach Design Systems, a junior-level experiential graphic design (EGD) course. We guide students to research social issues within local communities to co-create wayfinding systems and strategic placemaking design. For most, this is their first encounter designing complex three-dimensional systems, working in scale, and within the built environment. It’s an energizing place where design professionals bring insightful industry expertise to bridge the gap from the workplace to the classroom. This successful model is one that propelled my design career forward as a student many years ago, so it’s an honor to give back.

We are now well into the semester and I can’t help but notice how much the climate within the classroom has shifted since I was last in school. They all have pre-existing ideas about what wayfinding or environmental graphic design is. They are up against the greatest challenge of today’s design student; they are required to learn copious amounts of information within the expansive, global definition of visual communication. The classroom is a true microcosm of today’s larger social context. For that reason, I continue to craft my own teaching techniques by understanding the realities of today's society that drive student behavior, coupled with the expectations professional designers place on new grads. Most importantly to set students up for success, we provide them the freedom to discover their unique superpower and amplify their voice through their own design work.

Day one, we focus on two creative mindsets that are pivotal to the success of today’s professional EGD practice – collaborative teaming and active adaptive behavior. While not new concepts, admittedly they were not top-of mind societal emergence twenty years ago when I sat in the same classroom as a student. More importantly, societal norms back then did not seem to necessitate in-depth design lectures on emotional intelligence and soft skills like empathy. Students are encouraged to remain open to learning from each other’s perspectives, as it adds value when designing for human-experiences. Returning to the classroom, I’ve found that teaching techniques are much like design strategy – today, there is little tolerance for one-size-fits all methodologies. Students must be engaged as unique contributors within the classroom environment.

With digital disruption at the forefront of design systems, we forego the grueling study of hundreds of iterations as I was once taught in design school. Instead, we seek to integrate new opportunities to future-proof students as subject matter experts with heightened skillsets in user research, community engagement and rapid field prototyping. Collaborative critiques with industry professionals and their peers challenge their critical thinking to aim for both growth and refinement consistently over the duration of the project.

It’s known that societal change drives innovative business strategies in the workplace over time. But I’ve found it truly compelling to witness the immediate influence within the educational environment. Students, teachers and design professionals alike – those who do not learn to collaborate well or fail to actively adapt and manage change, become institutions of an old, disrupted story. I believe that it is the duty of those who prevail to rise to the occasion together, as strategic creatives to develop new thinking around meaningful, adaptive systems for purposeful societal advancement. Empowered by the ever-changing design industry, the teacher becomes the student. I like to think of myself as one in the same on any given day, continually learning new capabilities and sharing the knowledge, not only to keep pace and advance, but to make a positive impact on society, uplifting future generations to come.


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