Together, Apart—Checking in with the SEGD Community

Read Time: 5 minutes

*UPDATED: 05/27/20

“May you live in interesting times,” goes the ubiquitous phrase (curse?) of dubious origin—and here we are, strangely both closer together, and farther apart than ever before. But designers and fabricators dig a challenge, right? The SEGD community is a truly special group of people from around the globe—bound together by their warm collegial comportment, and love of design excellence and shared experiences—who continue to find creative ways to connect, inspire and help others across their teams and across the globe.

We’ve talked to you on the phone, received and read your email dispatches and watched your recorded Zoom conversations, all so we could start to answer an important question: How are our members fostering creativity and connection while the stay-at-home orders are in place?


Sharing Inspiration

Once a week, Media Objectives designers are issued a creative assignment, then share and discuss the results in addition to a two-minute “quick draw” challenge during their team meetings where each team member draws something based on a given theme, and Pictionary-style guessing ensues. “The next creative challenge will be an exquisite corpse challenge. Three teams will be created; one person will start a drawing that then the next team member adds onto it, and so forth,” writes Joe Lawton, principal.

YESCO’s Las Vegas design team has hunkered down and is working remotely. “As creative director, I work with a team of motivated professionals; self-starters under ALL conditions,” Mark Oatis tells us via email. “Lunchtime for me means brown-paper sign painting exercises at the bench; a cure for the lettering ‘bug’ (if NOT for the scourge of the moment).”

Lucy Holmes shares her movement as design: “It struck me that I could become the focus of a design by mapping my routes. Each day, I try to create a new graphic image by walking in a different direction—as much as possible—always having to start and finish in the same place.”

*A Gensler team in Seattle has taken inspiration from their research into how color can lift our spirits and another Gensler designer’s mural work in Guatemala to bring hope (and art) to struggling local businesses “with lots of color to exude positivity and encouragement.” Blog

*Fathom Studio’s team has been participating in creative challenges as well—they’ve started a gameshow style weekly series “The Fine Print” that will explore ways of working in the virtual and at-home workplace encouraging collaboration, promoting the exploration of online creation and engagement tools and strengthening interpersonal communication. The show is complete with its own theme song and host, Adam Fine. 

*Lee Skolnick recently shared his talent on air: You can still catch the May 11th episode of “Lunch on the Deck with Bill and Jessica” here on the WLNG podcast page. 


Fostering Connections

SEGD Fellow and Director of Design at Lorenc+Yoo, Jan Lorenc joined After12 co-hosts, Adam and Josh, in “Post-Pandemic Design,”focusing on visual design, branding and building.

From Brazil, Ivo Alexandre Sakamoto tells us the DSGN | SA team is enjoying working remotely and exploring different tools to get on track, “and, I’m drinking a lot of homemade coffee.”

Kelly Kolar tells us at Kolar Design, “We do daily COVID-19 updates for our satellite locations. We also have virtual weekly team meetings: Mondays we have 100-day plan updates, Tuesdays are studio operations, Wednesdays are wellness—we might have breathing exercises or pet therapy, with our pets on-screen. On Thursdays I do a video broadcast with my iPhone focusing on our values and Friday is the weekend wrap-up. When we are working remotely and projects are dropping and getting suspended, communication is critical for the team to not feel isolated and worried.”

Michael Courtney Design has kept friends and clients entertained with fun email updates, to include “The Quarantine Dispatch” and an account of a diverted trip—broken wrist, vibrant pink cast and reruns of The West Wing, included!

Ted Leonhardt is offer Mentor Mornings free over Zoom and his creative Co-op Overture is also hosting topical conversations about the future of creative businesses.

Arthouse Design found a new way to preserve an office tradition: Burger Wednesday is now a virtual team lunch with many varieties of burgers and burger-lookalikes. And, they’ve been rocking out, too: compiling a sweet playlist” showcasing the songs that are getting us through quarantine, or just reminding us of how things used to be,” with notes from the staff who picked each song. 

*Denver Chapter Chair Zach Kotel and firm leader Marty Gregg (Arthouse Design) contributed artwork to an online art exhibit of posters, each inspired by the artist’s time at home. The Home.HOPE! art exhibit features 25 artists, with images screen printed by Ink Lounge and print sales directly support the artists and Access Gallery, a Denver nonprofit. Home.Hope! runs through May 29, 2020.

*IMG hosted an “Ask a Fabricator” webinar, “to help our partners and designer connections improve their businesses while we watch and wait for our country to revive.” 

*The Cleveland Museum of Art launched ArtLens for Slack, the first virtual art exhibition app designed specifically for remote workplaces. Looking for a rapid response to the COVID-19 epidemic, the CMA’s Digital Innovation team wanted to leverage the museum’s Open Access API and in-house software development resources and with the help of Potion (New York), launched ArtLens in fewer than five weeks.


Helping Out

NBBJ has published a timely blog and developed an open source system of temporary signage to help hospitals with patient organization and wayfinding during the pandemic. Eric LeVine, principal of experience design and environmental graphics, tells us the work is meant to be shared, there is no expectation of compensation and this is just one way that NBBJ is contributing to public benefit right now. “It’s a general approach, which we assume would be different at every hospital, depending on the level of infection in the area and procedural policies. We hope it may inspire ideas about how to help organizations handle the influx of Covid-19 patients, or it can be used as-is.”

Gemini sponsored a webinar (now on-demand) on navigating the CARES act for small businesses.

DCL has responded to the COVID-19 situation by diverting resources in their fabrication facilities to producing Personal Protection Equipment parts and face shields, providing hundreds to medical facilities and first responders in the Boston and Orlando areas, even homeless shelters.

“Here at SignAgent, we rallied around an idea to develop a tool for anyone to access COVID-19 sign typesto help firms who are having to react quickly,” Jacob Vanstaalduinen, business manager, tells us. “Our development team spent an adventurous two days on a non-stop Google Hangout channel providing updates and debugging. Once it was launched we celebrated at the end of the week with a virtual happy hour, a tradition we hope to continue every Friday afternoon.”

Entro Design Director, Aleks Bozovic, is just one of many designers contributing to the cause by 3D printing visor clips.Michael Garron Hospital is vital to his community, and he says he was inspired to help in any way he could, by the efforts of others.

Architectural fabricator Urban Sign,is dedicating resources to help donate masks and intubators that they produce to BronxCare and New York Presbyterian, two hospitals that could potentially run out of necessary PPE without support.

Provis Graphic has converted its 3D printing capacity—normally used to produce illuminated signage—to produce face shields for healthcare and law enforcement workers and has made their production files available to download.

*Watchfire Signs, a provider of exterior and interior LED signs, has developed a free guide for sign companies and owners that explains the financial stimulus aid available to help small businesses withstand the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic—available here.

*In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Moss Inc.has expanded its global manufacturing capabilities to include high-speed automated production for Personal Protective Equipment. Moss’s new fleet of proprietary manufacturing technology can produce a total global output of 1.2 Million face masks per day.

*“The experiential graphic designers at PUBLIC created some full-size two-meter signs, which channel west coast modernism and a bit of Eames and placed them around the seawall in Vancouver to help remind people what the social distancing rule looks like!” —Susan Mavor, communication design, principal



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