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Okay, we admit it. We are inordinately and ridiculously proud of this new interpretive sign detailing coastal wetlands just completed for the San Juan County Land Bank, a public land conservation organization based in Friday Harbor, WA. Exquisite illustrations by natural science illustrator Mette Hanson and framing that blends seamlessly into the environment makes for a happy mix. Visitors will learn and enjoy as they wander the Land Bank’s public access properties. Count us as happy designers right now!

Open Wings Press


Technology, distribution, platforms, and retail have radically transformed the book business recently. There’s almost a sense of scrambling in the air, publishers are being asked to demonstrate their usefulness. With self-publishing a click-away, authors ask publishers, “Do we still need you?” But the self-published are quickly finding out that selling, promoting and establishing credibility is by far more complicated than one click.

In all of this change, there’s been some space made for small publishers. Open Wings Press approached Partners in Design while looking to find their voice in a fast-evolving community. The independent publisher was at a crossroads and had plans for a new logo. PID suggested they consider establishing a brand—a point of view that they could offer to their customers to distinguish their books, mission, and quality. An assurance of what their customers can expect.

Open Wings Press is an emerging publisher whose authors focus on hope and inspiration. Their name was an important first step in their brand. The aspiration of taking flight along with aspects of culture and traditional book forms brought us to the visual of an book signature unfolding into wings. Pictured are pages from the branding guide and a first-edition book run.


I’m searching for ‘green’ today. Let it pour like a visual remedy! I started the hunt this morning looking through photos of a recent journey to Spain, and by the end of the day I’ll eat all sorts of green things in a salad. The psychological effects of color can have great benefits, better than most meds. The 4 psychological primary colors are red, blue, yellow and green. They relate respectively to the body, mind, the emotions and the balance between these three. For me today it’s the need of green.

Green strikes the eye in such a way as to require no adjustment whatever and is, therefore, restful. Being in the center of the spectrum, it’s the color of balancea more important concept than many people realize. When the world about us contains plenty of green, this indicates the presence of water, and little danger of famine, so we are reassured by green, on a primitive level. Green shows us harmony, rest, peace, refreshment and love. But I want to give it to you straight… negatively, it can indicate stagnation and, incorrectly used can perceived as being too bland. Make your greens grow and you’ll be fine.

The spritzer bottle just makes me giggle, I have a passion for green plastic, and the chocolate wrapped in green makes me think of the evergreen cocoa tree, very exotic and dark. I have a new favorite artist who uses lots of it too, Matt Magee.


At the beginning of projects we ask our clients all sorts of questions. It’s the way we learn the design objectives and the heartbeat of the project—whether it’s a book, an interpretive panel for a zoo, a tourism exhibit, or packaging for tea.

There’s generally a pretty close parallel between the commercial “purpose” of a product and the goals our client articulate for its design. A tea importer, for example, wants their tea packages to be evocative; a travel tour company promoting Rome will likely want to showcase the attractions of the Eternal City. But sometimes, there are surprises—and they’re frisky and fun.

“Fun” is a particularly difficult concept to define. And one that has an arguable association with safety. Sometime things we think of as fun don’t always keep us safe. What’s fun for one person may be fear-inducing for another. But none of these caveats came into play (pardon the pun) because our ultimate client, in this case, wasn’t a person.

It’s a dog.

I’m guessing I’m not the only one who’s sat at a stop light and cringed, watching the dog hanging halfway out the window of the SUV. Probably “fun” for the dog, but safe? It was this relationship of fun and safety that inspired the invention of BreezeGuard® car window screens. Custom-made, designed to keep pets safely inside your car while allowing in cool breezes—especially important on warm days. In our initial conversations with BreezeGuard® owner and inventor Sue Stipanovich, she noted, “Safety is definitely the #1 priority, but folks who use my product get to travel with their fine, furry friends and have fun!”


We’ve designed a new website… FOR OURSELVES! It’s a new mind-set about keeping our friends and clients in the loop of design crusades.

Partners in Design is all about making GOOD graphic design for over 30 years, including branding programs, logos, print, books, posters, electronic media, interpretives, signage and exhibit design.

The biggest change you’ll notice on our new site is at last we’re admitting that we do more than traditional graphic design. A fact of life. Over time, you just become more expert, seasoned and proficient. Now with our graphic design, we also offer writing and editing. Our team does illustrations and photography, too. We’re also doing color consulting, book design and publishing. And we create original art, selling cards, posters and a few other tchotchke.


The Bellevue Botanical Garden is an 53-acre refuge, filled with cultivated gardens, restored woodlands and wildlife, designed to reflect a unique urban Northwest landscape known as Cascadia, with Puget Sound to the west and the Cascade mountains to the east. Our identity, signage and print work with the Garden recently expanded to include a full redesign of the Garden’s web site, the primary portal for visitors to learn about this Northwest treasure. The site offers special sections on the history of the Garden, seasonal “What’s in Bloom?” resources, information on sustainable gardening techniques as well as a Capital Campaign fundraising page dedicated to funding the Garden’s new Visitor Center set to open in late 2014. The new site also includes a separate section where visitors can access and the vast array of gardening resources at the Garden through a custom-designed plant database.



World Vision is a Christian humanitarian aid, development, and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to help children reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. Partners n Design has worked with World Vision USA, headquartered in Federal Way, WA for many years, producing print materials for their Sponsorship and Donor Engagement. Recently, we were thrilled to work on a very different kind of project: Journey of a Special Gift, a short video designed to help explain to donors where and how special gifts made to their sponsored child are processed. Our approach employed an engaging mix of still photography, typography and animated graphics designed to simplify and enliven a complex process. Watch the two-minute video here.


The Ostara Group is a perfect client for Partners in Design. Ostara works with small to midsize nonprofits, our own client base for many years, providing hands-on organizational and fundraising support and helping these vital organizations realize their full potential. When Ostara approached us to design a new web site for them, we were thrilled. The site is designed for client-access CMS and includes a separate blog area where Ostara’s partner specialists can contribute their expertise and advice.


The story of the San Juan County Land Bank is one of history, regional pride, resourcefulness and independence in the San juan Islands, a rich archipelago just north of the city of Seattle. For centuries, islanders have feasted on clams, hunted for deer, picked berries, dug bulbs, and fished waters teeming with salmon. On gentle slopes they planted large orchards with pears, plums, apples, and cherries. In 1990,  in order to ensure that the distinct character of life in their islands would endure, island residents created the San Juan County Land Bank, with a mandate to preserve areas in the county that have environmental, agricultural, aesthetic, cultural, or low-intensity recreational value. Partners in Design has worked with the Land Bank since their founding, designing their identity, print publications, annual reports, maps, land management identification and interpretive signage, and their first online presence. At the Land Bank web site visitors can learn more about conservation management and stewardship of the islands as well as access extensive maps for walking and enjoying Land Bank public access properties.



A branding program strives to tell one core story and Island Grown in the San Juan Islands grows out of an island community’s resolve to recognize and preserve its agricultural heritage and future. This luscious pear sailing off in a seafaring dingy inspires, creates interest, and visually explains the program’s primary mission. Plus, it puts a smile on your face. Communications is key element to Island Grown’s success and its logo provides an important synergy, quickly bringing together farmers, restaurateurs, businesses, island residents and visitors.



Graphics guidelines, multi-tier promotions, signage and collateral communications bloom for Sunrise Village, an outdoor retail shopping village nestled in the shadow of Mt. Rainier, just south of Seattle. The pages shown above are from the Sunrise Village Branding Guidelines and Standards, and explains the origins of the visual logo and how it relates to the demographics of the surrounding communities as well as illustrating a sense of how the program will inhabit the environment. Partners in Design collaborated with Tarragon Inc on the Sunrise Village project.



For any emergency management agency, communication is an invaluable tool. But in the mix of ubiquitous public and commercial clattering, its messaging needs to be clear, quick, appealing and instructive to be effective or the cost will be lives lost. Who is responsible for making this happen? In more and more communities an autonomous department provides this vital link and Partners in Design was excited to be part of this important effort by the San Juan County Department of Emergency Management. These particular graphics speak broadly to an isolated island-vulnerable community in Northwest Washington and our challenge was to fuse words and graphics together into a meaningful and high-performance dialogue.



Integration and unity are key factors when developing a strong visual identity program. The primary branding logo for the Bellevue Botanical Garden determined the visual style for all subsequent Garden interpretives and related signage: from entrance kiosk, garden trail markers, print, and even the Garden’s web site graphics. The logo features the Trillium, a species native to Northwest gardens and a symbol for sustainable gardening practices. The shape of the logo were further developed into a series of icons for each garden (shown below).




Greensboro Historical Museum serves up rich history daily. Local people making extraordinary connections at the Greensboro Historical Museum are introduced to Greensboro’s native sons and daughters and shown how their ancestors contributed great things in the Piedmont area of North Carolina. Partners in Design’s approach brought historical artifacts and history into contemporary relevance by bridging the span with bold typography, and using icons and color that would reflect and complement the historical symbols of this well-loved museum. Building banners and dynamic grid graphics targeted students, researchers and families to study and learn about events in colonial Guilford County including the Civil War, the roots of the Civil Rights Movement, and the rise of textile manufacturing in the South.



NatureMed Essential is a natural health store that promotes naturopathic and herbal remedies. The program’s branding and packaging finds its inspiration in the forms and forces of nature, and Partners in Design has supported these health key concepts with visual links. A primary objective was to visually place NatureMed Essentials uniquely in a field poised for explosive growth. The NatureMed program includes a store design and outlook highlighted by a custom-designed computer information system, a Health Elixir bar, and 8 departments of private label supplements and herbal preparations, including Spa Therapy, Weight Management, Immunity, Anti-Aging, Baseline Screening and a Kids Health Club.




The West Hylebos Wetlands is equal parts wildlife refuge, ecological and hydrological conservatory, nature trail, and just plain natural wonder. One of the last remaining bogs in South King County, Hylebos’ wetland wilderness lies just one mile west of I-5 in southern Federal Way, Washington, a rare urban nature park. Partners in Design provided design, writing and  fabrication coordination for a series of interpretive signs and visitor kiosks which needed particular care in construction methods given the nature of the wetland landscape where they would be installed. Interpretive topics included glimpses into the park’s history and the staggering diversity of life on its 120 acres.


The Bellevue Botanical Garden is an 53-acre refuge, filled with cultivated gardens, restored woodlands and wildlife, designed to reflect a unique urban Northwest landscape known as Cascadia, with Puget Sound to the west and the Cascade mountains to the east. Our program work includes the Garden’s graphic identity created by Partners in Design has been integrated into all forms of signage, print, online media, and marketing collateral. Overarching program goals include directional signage and extensive exterior interpretives that never impose too strongly on the nuances of the natural environment, and consistently meeting the varied objectives for optimal audience impact of the Garden’s multiple stakeholders—the City of Bellevue, the Bellevue Botanical Garden Society and various fundraising and capital campaign committees.


These whimsical sculptures mark the perimeter of Cherry Crest Reservoir, City of Bellevue Utilities, an important community reservoir and new recreation area created when a deteriorating reservoir was covered over with tennis courts and playground. The project was a unique collaboration between the City’s Utilities and Parks departments and provided a unique opportunity to offer the key public message of water conservation. Partners in Design developed the concept of telling the water story through the voices of the creatures who live in the watershed in a series of ten 4-foot cut and bent aluminum sculptures mounted to poles extending above the sport court’s fence line. Each sculpture offers a particular water message on a small interpretive panel mounted to the poles at court level.


The mission of  SoundBridge, the Seattle Symphony’s Music Discovery Center at Benaroya Hall, is to inspire and nurture a love of symphonic music through active participation and exploration. Partners in Design worked with exhibit designers Lehrman Cameron Studio to direct the graphics and interpretive designs of the 2,000 sq. ft exhibit which enables people of all ages and skill levels to explore music. Visitors can Meet the Musicians, explore the instruments of the orchestra through interactive exhibits, sample excerpts of the classical repertoire at Listening Posts and get a feel for the podium at the Virtual Conducting station.


The Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve  exhibit creates an environment that focuses on the richness and diversity of the New Jersey estuarine natural environment as a context for presenting scientific research, important historical and cultural milestones and community stewardship. The Visitor Center exhibits, developed by Partners in Design in collaboration with Lehrman Cameron Studio, convey and animate the history of the Mullica River-Great bay estuary region, the New Jersey Pinelands and the rich marine environment created where the land meets the open ocean.


The San Juan County Land Bank is a long-standing client of ours and one that is dear to our hearts. In 1990, as part of a county-wide initiative aimed at preserving the distinct character of life in this island archipelago north of Seattle, island residents created the San Juan County Land Bank. Partners in Design has been collaborating with the Land bank from the start, providing branding, on-trail interpretives and property boundary signage, an extensive website, and annual reports. The interpretive panel shown above is fabricated in photo-etched anodized aluminum for longevity, cost and the best UV protection.


The San Juan County Land Bank manages and provides stewardship for extensive trails and properties, many with public access. Partners in Design is often called upon to create maps for public meetings or visitor use.


Partners in Design provided master planning and design for the Central Park Visitor Center, an interactive visitor center housed in the Dairy, in New York City. The center’s permanent exhibit “Central Park: Oasis in the City” was designed to educate children and adults to the landscape design and planning of Central Park and includes a 7-minute video, a 12-ft detailed scale model of the Park depicting its topographical variety and numerous interactive displays. Our design program also included exterior signage for nearby Park landmarks in the “Children’s District” which includes The Dairy, The Chess & Checkers House, The Carousel, and the Belvedere Castle Environmental Learning Center. This exhibit was selected for inclusion in Print Casebooks 8: The Best in Exhibit Design.



Various campaigns serving multiple departments of Lakeside School, a well-regarded private middle and high school in Seattle, including: capital campaign, global service learning, alumni receptions, events, summer school branding and collateral.


Annual report for the San Juan County Land Bank


A large suite of publications developed for the Sumner School District, south of Seattle, that reflects this District’s long-range plan for student success. Capability collateral, print and electronic media communicate the partnership of parents and educators helping students become better learners. We also produce annual calendars that become strategic work-horses for the community and are utilized year-round. 


Long-term communications program covering multiple aspects of the Sumner School District’s needs, including: capability reports, annual calendars, events promotion, new school openings, superintendent reports, and special programs (teacher recruitment folder shown above).



A single garden—the Bellevue Botanical Garden’s Waterwise Garden—inspired the City of Bellevue Utilities to promote “waterwise” practices and natural yard care to its residents. Partners in Design created branding, logos, icons, garden interpretives, posters, collateral and education publications for the program’s launch and continued implementation. Quick and flexible graphic standards meet the City’s schedule of impromptu workshops (both print and online).



Retail mall meets downtown community. Working with Tarragon, Inc, Partners in Design stepped in to provide event promotion and marketing for Kent Station retail village, south of Seattle and update and visually expand its existing branding standards. New campaigns of signage, banners, posters, mailings and window graphics supplemented the existing design standards. Designing holiday fanfare was an especially fun project for this long-term client.


A community outreach and education campaign for San Juan Island Integrated Medical Center had the additional objective of targeting primary donors for the center’s construction. Print communications initiated a dialogue for better island health care for a changing community demographic.


This agricultural strategic action plan developed for San Juan County, WA was a collaborative project with the Agricultural Resources Committee of San Juan County, San Juan Preservation Trust and San Juan County Land Bank. Partners in Design’s teams/clients often include many stakeholders, making our process of communication essential for effectiveness and productivity.


We all know that school relationships are important. They can either be a source of support or the cause of harassment. Yeah, I’m Different addresses this duality. Partners in Design worked with Safe Schools Coalition, a partnership that seeks to promote tolerance by providing resources for students, parents, and administrators, to conceptualize and design a series of posters on these issues. Distributed state-wide in K-12 schools, the posters address bias-based harassment facing youth in our schools today and feature the creations of Portland artist Marc Willwerth and his “perfect children” who are different but OK just the way they are. Photography by Malcolm Smith.


Serving the island-wide community of the San Juan Islands, the San Juan Department of Emergency Management’s critical publication program can be the difference between life and death. Identity, web site, posters, t-shirts and iconography coordinate to educate and engage the community to be prepared for all emergencies. The seriousness and life-saving nature of this program is infused with a tongue-in-cheek point of view to inspire citizen participation. Poster and postcard design shown above.


Partners in Design is committed to helping schools, like those in the Bethel School District, bridge the gap between cost-effective and visually powerful communications. We have been creating award-winning print graphics to the education community for over two decades. Bethel School District Annual Report shown above.


Book cover designs for Guilford Press, New York.

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