CELERY DESIGN COLLABORATIVE, BERKELEY CA, PORTLAND OR + PARIS
Celery Design Collaborative was founded in 1997 to focus on creating communications that have a positive impact in the world. I manage the California office at Celery. We also have designers based in Portland and Paris. We use design to help folks who are trying to have a positive impact in the world. Those folks are building start-ups, or working within large companies, or founding non-profits. We help them prototype crazy concepts, spread big ideas, and build brands for world-changing products. It’s a huge thrill when beautiful form-making comes together with great content. I co-founded Celery in an effort to scratch both of those itches simultaneously ‒ good design integrated with good content.
HOW AND WHY DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED WITH SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE AND/OR SUSTAINABLE PROJECTS, CLIENTS AND CAUSES?
We started in 1997 when only a handful of designers were talking about green design and sustainability, and most were in architecture and industrial design. We saw huge opportunities for innovation and invention, a chance to develop a new way of thinking about and doing graphic design, and we aspired to start a firm that would be a catalyst for social and environmental change.
ARE THERE SPECIAL CHALLENGES OR OPPORTUNITIES IN PURSUING THESE GOALS IN 2017?
Our clients are incredibly diverse, so we constantly have to learn about new industries. This week includes designing a new sustainable ranching brand, launching a website about recyclable K-Cups for Keurig, and concepting for a new social entrepreneurship incubator in France. We also run a retail design shop in Berkeley and do pop-up events every few months to spotlight the local creative community. Jumping between subjects and media can make your head spin, but I find all the diversity exhilarating.
It seems like the first wave of big-time “green branding” has subsided, and budgets are a bit more modest than they were a few years ago, but the need for sustainable innovation is very much alive. In many cases, the clients we’re collaborating with are successfully transforming their industries. It’s exciting to be part of that and help them grow. But it does often require patience to see the impact.
We co-founded The Charlie Cart Project and designed a mobile teaching kitchen three years ago to simplify hands-on nutrition education. Rolling it out has been a huge learning curve and has taken a lot longer than we expected, but we’re now in 40 schools nationwide and it’s finally starting to rapidly scale. This sort of ambitious design doesn’t always follow the same timeframe as conventional marketing, but I think the impact can be a lot more lasting.