Design is Design: A Recap of Hello Design Studio Tour

About a year ago Hello Design settled into a new home on Jefferson Boulevard in Culver City. An AIGA Los Angeles tour of the facility in October offered a glimpse at the inner workings of this world class digital agency. The studio, which they designed themselves, boasts high ceilings, modern lighting, custom work tables, a loft, Nerf guns, and a ping pong table. The combination of toys, technology, and a gracious presentation made apparent Hello Design’s ability to innovate without taking themselves too seriously.

CEO/Creative Director David Lai engaged the sold out audience with an exciting stroll through the history of Hello Design, their philosophy and some lessons they’ve learned in their 15 years of operation. A simple credo of doing good work, working with interesting clients, continuously learning and staying small has allowed the team to maintain its integrity while expanding and taking on new projects.

Here are ten major lessons they’ve learned over the years. In the spirit of Dieter Rams’ famous principles of design, they are focused, practical and powerful.

1.) Don’t just make. Make useful things
2.) If you’ve never done it before, even better.
3.) Sometimes you have to fly under the radar.
4.) Always bring ideas to the table.
5.) Connect people and make sure they are always at the center.
6.) Make things, even if you aren’t getting paid to.
7.) The future is whatever you want it to be.
8.) Experience is the message.
9.) Don’t ask for permission
10.) Tell stories worth sharing.

In one especially popular feature of the tour, David gave a behind the scenes look at a project they did for Herman Miller called “Why Design”. Why Design is a video series and website where some of Herman Miller’s designers share their creative points of view and inspirations. In creating this beautifully executed example of thinking outside the box, the Hello Design team visited 8 cities, took 7268 photos, and wrote 6000 lines of code. It inspires by successfully blurring the lines between design, products and life. The Why Design site can be experienced here:

At times there seemed to be an underlying theme to this event: design is design. Nearly everything that is created has been designed and the same concepts apply whether you are designing a website, a studio or a gourmet meal. Thank you to AIGA Los Angeles, David Lai and the Hello Design team for this enriching experience!


About the Author: Alex Crane (@DissonantDesign) is a Los Angeles based designer creating unique and powerful solutions for print and web. He strives to make communication as effective and enjoyable as possible.

By Julie Manthey
Published November 22, 2012
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