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RSM Culture
February 3, 2023

2023 Team Member Promotions

We are excited to celebrate our team’s growth to kick off 2023! RSM Design is committed to putting “people first.” Our studios are dedicated to growing our unique team of designers, storytellers, and brand visionaries. We are fortunate to have a team of incredible individuals who devote themselves to their practice and their team each and every day. Cheers to the following members on their new positions at RSM Design!

GROWTH AT RSM DESIGN

We are excited to celebrate our team’s growth to kick off 2023! RSM Design is committed to putting “people first.” Our studios are dedicated to growing our unique team of designers, storytellers, and brand visionaries. We are fortunate to have a team of incredible individuals who devote themselves to their practice and their team each and every day. Cheers to the following members on their new positions at RSM Design!

NEWEST SENIOR ASSOCIATES

Kate Gilman has been with RSM Design for nine years. Her passion for design process and problem solving has pushed and inspired the RSM Design team. Kate’s focus on clear communication has served the design teams she has led; Kate has been involved with several educational presentations on communication and building client relationships. 

Joining RSM Design just over a year ago, Steve Luoma leads our branding team. He has focused his career to serve a wide variety of clients’ needs, from initial strategy through design implementation. His work has spanned a diverse set of disciplines, including branding, packaging, digital design, and the built environment. Steve is dedicated to his relationships with his clients and colleagues.

NEWEST ASSOCIATES

Will Heinze works through all aspects of the design process seeking to find the optimal intersection between form and function. Will taps his industrial design background in seeking user-focused solutions, modeling and rendering to visualize the experience. His wide range of skills has contributed to a variety of projects, such as the City of Dana Point, Nashville Yards, and West Harbor.

Sydney Patterson works closely with clients to help them fully realize their vision, as seen in her portfolio of notable, user-centered projects in the life science, civic, hospitality and retail sectors. Her experience as an environmental graphic designer working in wayfinding, placemaking, and experiential design has driven RSM Design’s portfolio of projects.

NEWEST SENIOR DESIGNERS

As both a talented architect and graphic designer, Zach Burson has excelled in his role as a senior designer and is constantly growing in his skills, confidence, and connections with the studio’s clients. He has successfully led designs and relationships for such important and varied projects as the Omni PGA Resort, The University of Texas Permian Basin campus, and The Farm in Allen. 

Mackenna Figueroa specializes in visioning, brand narratives, logo design, as well as bringing a brand to life through marketing, social media, digital, and printed applications. Her expertise in storytelling methods and engaging in design research, analysis, and implementation has pushed RSM Design’s branding service to the next level. Mackenna has worked to drive RSM Design’s marketing team as well, using her wide array of skills and knack for branding.

Self-taught hobbyist with a honed eye for design and the ability to persevere through comprehensive design challenges, Maxwell Helm has been with RSM Design since 2017. He enjoys cooperating with architecture and landscape teams to ensure unity of the design’s story, as well as seeing a project through to fabrication, as he believes that the beauty of design can be found in the details. 

Leading the design on a number of high profile projects, Carly Zembrodt’s talent and design acumen has increased with each new experience. Utilizing her talents as both an interior designer and graphic designer, this unique combination has generated exciting environmental graphics results on influential recent projects, such as the Pier 66 Resort and Marina, Kanawha County Public Library, HALL Park, and numerous other collaborations. 

NEWEST DESIGNERS

Thi Do, joining the RSM Design team six months ago, is experienced in a variety of design disciplines ranging from branding and logo design to digital advertisements and marketing to rendering and 3D environmental graphic design. 

Also joining the RSM Design team six months ago, Holland Keller uses her creative marketing and design education to drive RSM Design’s internal marketing initiatives through social media, our website, articles and promotional books. 

Rae Peterson has been with RSM Design for just over a year, contributing her digital and fine art skills to her project teams. Her excitement and passion for design drives her ability to connect people to their environment.

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR NEWLY PROMOTED TEAM MEMBERS!


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Rendering of National Landing dog park with large tower buildings in the background
Education
November 29, 2022

Pedestrian Focused Wayfinding Strategy for the 21st Century at National Landing

RSM Design was invited to craft a wayfinding and signage strategy and global wayfinding and experience trends to position the neighborhood as a world-class leader in innovation as a people-centric environment. The goal was to create a cohesive, “future-proof” design system that can be adapted by future neighborhood development through the implementation of smart technology in the three major neighborhoods to improve the pedestrian experience throughout.

National Landing in Arlington, Virginia encompasses three major neighborhoods: Crystal City, Pentagon City, and Potomac Yard. The National Landing BID (Business Improvement District), located at the center of the DC region, invited RSM Design to craft a wayfinding and signage strategy and global wayfinding and experience trends to position the neighborhood as a world-class leader in innovation as a people-centric environment. The goal was to create a cohesive, “future-proof” design system that can be adapted by future neighborhood development through the implementation of smart technology in the three major neighborhoods to improve the pedestrian experience throughout.

The Strategy

Shane Reiner-Roth:

In the context of 21st century America, how did you design a “pedestrian minded experience” for National Landing? 

Cory Clinton:

It was important that the National Landing BID leverage the density of the surrounding area while moving away from what had historically been uninviting, highly trafficked boulevards. We wanted to alleviate that by creating a consistent arrival experience that would help guests explore the three districts within National Landing without relying on the cars. We proposed a multi-layered approach, some of which is timeless in an architectural relationship with the landscape, such as sculptures to create landmarks that people want to visit that help them find their place within National Landing or more explicit physical wayfinding pieces at entry points and nodes. Other solutions are more reliant on current technology, handheld devices with apps designed to guide people using tools like maps, augmented reality and projection mapping compatible with the 5G technology in National Landing.

Cody Clark:

One of the things that we wanted to do was to bring the experience back to the individual so that the neighborhood can celebrate the pedestrian — something we learned by looking at Kevin Lynch’s approach to sensitive urban planning in The Image of the City, but with a 21st century spin. By offering easy movement throughout the neighborhood, this multi mobility network also invites visitors to feel free in investigating the unique details of National Landing. But this led us to ask: how do you facilitate the means by which people can meaningfully decipher the elements of their environment? How do you make them want to celebrate and discover their neighborhood rather than merely get from point A to B? We wanted commuters and tourists alike to become curious by inviting that element of discovery.

Shane:

Can you elaborate on the trends studies you conducted to arrive at the final application of placemaking and wayfinding strategies for National Landing?

Cody:

RSM developed a global trends benchmarking process that outlined innovative applications of wayfinding in urban, civic environments. Our process outlined key municipalities and public/private developments that are using commercially viable and experimental static and digital tools to layer into the physical environment. Our goal was to provide a wide range of tools that would support the key objectives. Our findings centered around market experience and how AI or personal devices might aid in transit, placemaking or education concerning the build environment. 

Shane:

What were your precedents for National Landing?

Cory:

Downtown Santa Monica may have been one of them, but it was generally difficult to find parallels that dealt with a project of this large a scale. Because we were looking toward the future, the Walk NYC and Legible London projects became valuable case studies that we used quite a bit. We were looking for holistic approaches to a system that’s consistent from the bus stops to the train stops to those on the street directories and digital apps.. Also, older cities like Amsterdam that have a long history of integrating bike navigation informed a lot of our trend research.

Micromobility & Tech Integration

Shane:

When you brought up the the idea of “celebrating the pedestrian,” I was reminded that in America, the pedestrian has been more or less villainized the word “jaywalking” came into existence in the early 1920s to lay the blame on pedestrians for car accidents rather than the car owners as a means of privileging automobile access to the city. In National Landing, you are undoing a lot of the history of this relationship between pedestrians and car drivers in a uniquely American context.

Cory:

They identified the presence of cars in the neighborhood as a real safety concern, as well as something that was limiting pedestrian access across the site. Another big piece of the pedestrian story is micro-mobility, including the bicycle experience and rentable scooters. These modes of transportation enhance the pedestrian experience by offering flexibility and the option to move at your pace, while reducing the need for cars. Planned improvements to bike lanes and sidewalks can be optimized with signage that creates safer environments and access to micro-mobility wayfinding hubs.

Shane:

What technology might be initially unfamiliar to visitors to National Landing when they first arrive?

Cory:

The idea of a truly dynamic wayfinding system is a new approach to an urban center like this. Based on the fluctuating needs and traffic conditions, we envision a system that can respond to best routes, parking availability and transit schedules. Visitors will no longer have to rely solely on static signage or be uninformed about potential hazards or delays. If the system is designed correctly, the learning curve for new technology should be fast and effortless, with messaging located exactly when and where you need it.

Interior vs Exterior Wayfinding

Shane:

How do you feel that designing a wayfinding system for something as large and open-air as National Landing is different from that of vast interiors, such as airports or malls?

Cory:

I think it’s a lot of the same principles, because in both, it’s about understanding where people need information and where they’re going. The solutions for offering safety and certainty are often the same because both provide opportunities for placemaking elements, such as sculptures, murals, and other kinds of landmarks that might speak to the community. 

Cody:

I would say that the experience of time is different between large interiors and neighborhoods: how people experience spaces and the duration of time. It does change how you design for people. The elements of National Landing, for instance, are things that people will be seeing every day. These will be places that people really love and have associations with already. In a neighborhood, you want wayfinding systems around only where they are needed. They should ultimately be experiencing their neighborhood, their architecture and parks, and their families more often than they interact with signs. And so I think that’s actually much more tangible, because in other contexts, such as an airport, visitors will have a relatively dissociated experience. In other environments, you have to turn up the volume and frequency of wayfinding systems.

Shane:

Yes, in an airport, a mall or a subway system, there is often a more deliberate movement, and the signage is therefore expected to be crystal clear and omnipresent. How do the wayfinding systems you have designed for National Landing reflect the fact that it is not an interior, but rather a layered community?

Cory:

The initial arrival and parking experience is more akin to that of going to the airport, but after making the transition from the garage to the street, the wayfinding systems are usually only there where needed to help people make a decision. That choice could be based on curiosity or it could be based on the easiest  route to their destination. We look for ways of integrating with the existing downtown infrastructure, for instance, where there is a lot of pedestrian activity, in which we can integrate wayfinding systems into public kiosks or as part of a plaza area where people will be taking a little more time between finding their way to the next place.

Cody:

It’s similar to the public parking branded system in Downtown Santa Monica. Anywhere you go downtown, there’s that icon, and that color. Even though they are owned by different parking operators, they are rebranded as one, and their exteriors are more or less pure sign systems. Then once you’re out, how many signs are there in the pedestrian areas? Not many. But you have them where you need them. The outdoor experience shouldn’t be like a mall, but it should be clear nonetheless.

Physical & Digital Connection

Shane:

What do you hope other cities might see in National Landing as an example of how the infrastructure of a city can provide ‘feedback’ to its users through smart technology?

Cory:

One of the fundamental priorities of this project was to be responsive to accessibility concerns in every dimension imaginable. They wanted a system that would work for everyone: spanning those that are hearing and/or sight impaired, but also those that come to the neighborhood speaking different languages or users from varying socio-economic conditions. That goes back to the concept of ‘layered systems,’ where the full breadth of the system might include experiences that you have on your phone, but also digital hubs that can access the internet for those without phones, as well as Braille options, haptic feedback, and other technologies that could inform people outside of just a single app or even a single language. We considered a wide range of devices, which could include artificial intelligence software and digital kiosks that might predict what visitors are looking for and help them along like a neighborhood concierge that is both highly recognizable and approachable.

Shane:

How might smart technology be used to increase the safety of an urban center?

Cory:

One of the key needs identified was improving the wayfinding visual consistency and unifying the site. An exciting way that technology can help with this unification is through a digital “hand-off” between signage in the physical environment to your mobile device. This could create checkpoints for guests to confirm their route along the way, as well as integrate up-to-date information on changes or conditions, all in a consistent graphic language.

We  researched a number of new apps and technologies that are improving safety. Important touchpoints in an environment like National Landing are crosswalks, bike lanes and accessibility for all visitors. For example, there are some amazing apps designed for the visually impaired that use 3D audio technology to describe your surroundings and set audio beacons that track your direction. At crosswalks, smart technologies are being developed that detect all road users, pedestrian and vehicular, with integrated safety notifications and AI algorithms that can predict the trajectory and speed of oncoming traffic. We were interested in tapping into advances being made in mobile robotics (such as MIT’s Spot project) to optimize National Landing’s 5G smart city infrastructure for capturing data and learning how and where to best assist people over time. Artificial intelligence can become a feedback loop that automates improvements in communication and public safety.

Shane:

This model of urban wayfinding has the potential to undo the sense of modern alienation that has defined urban living since at least the end of the 19th century, in which urban residents feel as the city does not care about them, and that they have to operate within this unfeeling, unresponsive metropolis. Will this smart system act as a ‘friendly local’ that can guide pedestrians?

Cory:

Yes, we want visitors to feel welcome as quickly as possible and feel as though there is nothing prohibiting them from exploring the area upon arrival.

National Landing as a model for other cities

Shane:

It seems like what is taking place at National Landing could become a model for other American neighbors that are currently overly reliant on private automobiles for inner city transportation.

Cory:

Absolutely. We were hoping to demonstrate to the residents of the Arlington and DC area that it is possible for an aging vehicular-centric downtown to be revitalized as a walkable city with multiple functions and a vitality that was not there before.

Shane:

How do you see the placemaking and wayfinding applications gathered at National Landing as fitting within global benchmarks?

Cody:

National Landing sees themselves as a global leader in creating liveable, connected and mobile communities. The key aspects of placemaking and wayfinding are contextual layers that only those elements can support. Our team seeks to stitch together these layers of brand, direction, education, art & culture, transit, commercial and entertainment to interconnect a community at all legible levels.

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Little boy looking at tenant listing on surfboard fins for food court in Huntington Beach
Education
November 29, 2022

Design Trends for Places We Love

As we reach towards a new year RSM Design finds itself future-focused on how our industry is shapeshifting. As a global, multi-disciplinary design studio we find ourselves at the table on projects that are creating significant changes in the way we engage with our communities.

As we reach towards a new year RSM Design finds itself future-focused on how our industry is shapeshifting. As a global, multi-disciplinary design studio we find ourselves at the table on projects that are creating significant changes in the way we engage with our communities.

One key aspect of our daily design process within the studios is to utilize key global trends as a crystal ball to observe and implement the latest thought processes into the designs.  Our team’s collective pulse on developmental, economical, and social change allows us a way to root innovation and relevance into the studio’s solutions and the impact on engagement and involvement in the community.

Today, we are collaborating with architects, developers, and communities to ask the big question:

"How can design shapeshift more vital, accessible and soulful places?"

Trend #1: The Joy Factor!

We all crave engagement and places that value shared interest, experiences and memories. This curated (but not over-curated) public realm is driving development, event, and brand strategies to enrich our sense of belonging.

The Trick to Getting it Right...

Relevance, deep market awareness, brand bravery, and a clear grasp on how place loyalty drives clear return on investment.

See how we created joy at Rodeo39 in Stanton, CA

Trend #2: Places to Engage

Let’s face it. We all travel less than we did 24 months ago. As both urban and suburban retail centers evolve into mixed-use districts that cater to their 15-minute walkable city markets, the spaces in between become the jewels of the project. The return to green linkages, sidewalk culture, and places designed for people, and not cars, is making a critical rebirth.

The Trick to Getting it Right...

Context is everything. Actually, access is everything. Understanding how to craft a decentralized neighborhood strategy with all that is needed within a short metro, walk, or bike ride. Embracing advocacy within the community, integrating a healthy mixture of different demographic markets, ensuring that multi-mobility access is ever-present, and crafting resonant natural green spaces are just a few of the important factors to get it right. The “Projects” of years past are evolving into the “Districts” of the present and future… a new way of embracing growth and evolution.

See how we embraced growth at Amazon HQ2 in Arlington, VA

Trend #3: Placekeeping

“Placekeeping” is definitely not a new term but is regaining ground as a counterpoint to “Placemaking”. The term is a catalyst for project teams in prioritizing an empathic, diverse, and collaborative community engagement process to revitalize and preserve existing public spaces… utilizing their voice and needs. Public advocacy is critical in how to shape existing public spaces to reflect, honor, and evolve the cultural, historical, and social dimensions of a place.

The Trick to Getting it Right...

Defining what are the placekeeping opportunities, constructing a team of advocates, and deep public engagement processes….key components to create that relevant place. Ask, listen, and implement learning objectives into the design outcomes. Be a great neighborhood partner. Create differentiation to maintain and grow market loyalty.

See how we embraced the placekeeping process at the Miami Waterfront

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Two students writing ideas on sticky notes, smiling and enjoying the event.
RSM Culture
November 23, 2022

SEGD Orange County Chapter Kick Off Event at RSM Design

The Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD) kicked off their Orange County chapter this past week at RSM Design! Sydney Patterson, Senior Designer at RSM, and her co-chairs, Kathy Guerineau Shook and Josh Huckleberry put together an evening consisting of tacos, s’mores and collaboration. The night was an inspiring time of networking and sharing new ideas for the future of SEGD Orange County and the experiential graphic design industry.

The Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD) kicked off their Orange County chapter this past week at RSM Design! Sydney Patterson, Senior Designer at RSM, and her co-chairs, Kathy Guerineau Shook and Josh Huckleberry put together an evening consisting of tacos, s’mores and collaboration. The night was an inspiring time of networking and sharing new ideas for the future of SEGD Orange County and the experiential graphic design industry. 

The event was hosted in the Lot at RSM Design. Guests were able to enjoy the sunset over refreshments provided by brands we all know and love; Bearded Tang Brewery, Topo Chico and Juneshine

Follow SEGD Orange County on Instagram or visit their website to stay in the loop for future events. SEGD OC has just begun! 

Cheers to the beginning of a great community! 

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Our annual workshops are an event that every employee of RSM Design looks forward to each and every year.
RSM Culture
November 10, 2022

Together At Last...

Our annual workshops are an event that every employee of RSM Design looks forward to each and every year. It’s a time to come together, get inspired, deepen our relationships with one another, and celebrate our accomplishments.

Celebrating 25 Years of RSM Design

Our annual workshops are an event that every employee of RSM Design looks forward to each and every year. It’s a time to come together, get inspired, deepen our relationships with one another, and celebrate our accomplishments.

In 2020 and 2021 we put our gatherings on pause. It was hard, but it was the right thing to do, considering the pandemic. During that time, we noticed a longing for reconnection. They were craving in-person connection. The workshops had always been a crucial part of our company’s culture and connection. So when 2022 rolled around we knew it was time to re-gather. And, it was going to be the 25th anniversary of RSM Design. It was a no brainer.

DRAFTING UP A PLAN

Planning began with our internal team in the early half of the year. We connected with speakers local and far, researched team building activities, drew up a logo, put it on some cool trucker hats, tote bags, coffee mugs, and more. We let the creative wheels turn.

THE SPEAKERS

Speakers played an important role in our workshops, which we titled Creativity x Communication. Our first speaker was Robin Osborn, an executive coach at Kothari Leadership, who specializes in coaching and transforming organizations and leaders. Robin led the team through a DiSC workshop, which uses a personal assessment tool to recognize patterns in our communication and collaboration styles. Our team discussed how we can improve teamwork and productivity by gaining a deeper understanding of our different styles of communication. 

Jenny Famularcano joined us on Thursday morning to talk about organizing your creative process, both personally and within a team. She is an educator at Chapman University and Denver Ad School, as well as a lettering artist. She shared with us her best practices for organizing creative ideas, and warmed us up with a little Zumba! 

Tyrone Drake is an educator, graphic design professional, and an associate professor at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena. With over 25 years of experience in both the education and professional design realm, Tyrone discussed the benefits of working in teams to come to creative and innovative design solutions. He shared an inspirational story of his experience guiding students through a UX/UI project during a study abroad program in Berlin, Germany. 

Our final speaker was Thokozani Mabena, who shared his touching journey as a designer coming to America from Zimbabwe. An inspiring creative who currently works for Gensler Portland, Thoko discussed the importance of finding meaning in the work that we do, and to always seek to put people and relationships at the center of our focus. His transformative story, which was previously recorded by TedX, can be watched here

Each of our speakers brought insight to our work as designers, as well as shared important messages about how to communicate and work collaboratively with others. They challenged our team to consider ways to be empathetic listeners and positive influences in our industry today.

DESIGN EDUCATION: ACTIVITIES AND EXERCISES

Another key component of Creativity x Collaboration were our team building activities. These exercises brought various groups together to explore ideas such as product design, user testing, listening, creative design practices, and more.

You may have already seen our Egg Drop Challenge shared on social media. This is one of those activities that you may have done in your high school science class. But the Egg Drop Challenge also explores a number of design thinking principles: how to design and prototype an effective container solution that will safely protect a fragile egg as it drops from an elevated surface. We were divided into teams and each received a mystery bag of tools and props. Together we used communication and creative thinking to design egg containers, made of popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, marshmallows, paper bag scraps, and our favorite mystery item: a jar of peanut butter.

We presented our containers to the judges, Harry, Martin, and Suzanne, before dropping them off of our studio balcony. Some eggs survived the fall, and some didn’t. It was a lesson learned for all of us. Ultimately “Pineapple Express” took home the prize as the most effective as well as design forward egg drop container. 

In addition to the Egg Drop Challenge, we also hosted a range of activities from design trivia to DIY pennant flags, a curated design book library, What’s in Your Wallet? (all about empathetic listening and why we hold on to the things we do), and a field trip to a neighborhood artist and friend, JP Greenwood

We converted our conference room into a “maker’s space” for team members to step away and work with their hands. We provided supplies to create “Value Pennants,” to represent our values and goals.

THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION

While the meat of our workshops were the speakers and activities, the celebratory moment was our 25th Anniversary Celebration, or Camp RSM. As many of you already know, this year RSM is celebrating 25 years of creative collaboration in the environmental graphic design and place branding industry. Those 25 years have shaped our company into what it is today. And our people are at the very center of that. Under a starry night sky, we went back to our Texan roots (fun fact: Harry, Martin & Suzanne met in Texas!) and celebrated those 25 years with a BBQ dinner, popped the champagne, and in true Texas style, line danced our achy-breaky hearts away. The truth is, we wouldn’t be able to do any of this without you. We’re so grateful for the opportunity to come back year after year and be a part of incredibly inspiring projects. Thank you for making the past 25 years memorable + exciting. It’s a lucky thing, we love what we do.

Cheers to 25 years and definitely s’more adventures ahead!

See more from our workshops on our Instagram and Linkedin!

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black and white headshot image of Cody Clark principal at RSM Design
RSM Culture
October 21, 2022

Cody Clark + ArtCenter College of Design’s Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography Speaker Series

We’re excited to announce Cody Clark, Principal and Director of our Los Angeles office, will be participating in ArtCenter College of Design’s HMCT, Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography Speaker Series. Cody is a graduate of ArtCenter College of Design as well as former instructor in Graphic Design and Environmental Design for over 15 years. He has built an award-winning career through creative and contemporary storytelling within architectural and public space environments. Cody believes in building projects around a client-informed process which is led by asking great questions, resulting in meaningful and economically successful projects.

We’re excited to announce Cody Clark, Principal and Director of our Los Angeles office, will be participating in ArtCenter College of Design’s HMCT, Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography Speaker Series. Cody is a graduate of ArtCenter College of Design as well as former instructor in Graphic Design and Environmental Design for over 15 years. He has built an award-winning career through creative and contemporary storytelling within architectural and public space environments. Cody believes in building projects around a client-informed process which is led by asking great questions, resulting in meaningful and economically successful projects.

On Wednesday, October 26th, Cody will be discussing his specialization in transmedia, wayfinding and environmental interventions, and his experience challenging spatial storytelling conventions as an educator and designer.

Registration is required for the virtual event. Please RSVP through ArtCenter. 

The Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography provides the tools for community members to celebrate and investigate the evolution of typography’s role in all forms of communication. For more information about the HMCT visit: hmctartcenter.org
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