SENIOR PARTNER DESIGN
LIPPINCOTT, NEW YORK NY
I was born and raised in Dublin with three sisters, a brother, and, in true Irish fashion, a million cousins. After coming to the United States for college, I received my master’s degree in design from the University of Cincinnati. Lippincott followed soon after, and I’ve been here for over 23 years, helping clients visually and verbally tell their stories as a Senior Partner in our design practice. Lippincott is a creative consultancy specializing in brand and innovation, with a passion for solving clients’ toughest challenges through a proven combination of strategic rigor and design excellence. The firm was founded in 1943 and really pioneered the branding industry as we know it today. From Coca-Cola to Samsung and Starbucks to Delta, we’ve shaped some of the world’s most iconic brands of our time by driving growth and adding meaning to customers’ lives.
HOW AND WHY DID YOU COME TO USE DESIGN TO ADVANCE SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE AND/OR SUSTAINABLE PROJECTS, CLIENTS AND CAUSES?
My first foray into designing for good occurred during my studies at the University of Cincinnati, where I designed the universal access symbol for the sight, hearing and physically-impaired to help re-define how people look at each other and at the world. Twenty-five years later, the wheelchair access symbol is now becoming the standard wayfinding symbol for universal access. It has inspired designers across the world; it’s also now emblazoned across all New York City taxis.
While we might focus on the visual characteristics of this symbol, its real power is in the changing of attitudes. While focusing on the person, instead of the disability, it becomes a message of empowerment rather than a societal label. Therein lies the power of design; in all its forms, it can be an effective tool for changing perceptions and associations.
At Lippincott, some of our most meaningful projects are the ones where we’ve been able to use the power of ideas, design, and language to solve the problems that matter while making people’s lives a little easier. As a firm, we are committed to a host of deserving not-for-profit causes including Potential Energy, AIGA’s Double or Nothing initiative, L’Arche and Creative Art Works.
ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL CHALLENGES, OPPORTUNITIES, URGENCIES IN 2018?
I had coffee recently with a friend who needed to use the disabled parking spot. The spot was so narrow that it was incredibly difficult to get out of the car, and somewhat ironically, the access point to the shop was up a flight of steps. As designers we have an opportunity, if not a responsibility, to think through the broader experience and make it better, for everyone.
The concept and application of access can still be quite nebulous, especially as we enter the digital world. As designers it’s easy to get caught up in the more functional aspects of design, like color contrast. But we can’t lose sight of the inclusive intent. The bigger opportunities that digital enables will include everything from voice-based technologies to autonomous vehicles. But in all of these, we can’t lose sight of the person.