ELLEN BRUSS DESIGN
Ellen Bruss has a BFA with an emphasis in Graphic Design from Michigan State University. She started her career working in the music industry for both Denver-based Fey Concerts and Los Angeles-based MCA/Universal.
Ellen opened her namesake design and marketing firm, Ellen Bruss Design (EBD), in 1990. EBD specializes in the intersection of real estate and retail, addressing branding, corporate identity, marketing collateral, digital design, environmental design and consumer packaging. Clients include Hammond’s Candies, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Western Sugar, Lennar LMC, Wolff Companies, the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, Redline, and the Denver Art Museum. As a side project, she is developing a hospitality brand with her husband Mark Falcone, of Continuum Partners. Their first project, Hotel Born in Denver, opened in the fall of 2017. Ellen oversaw the creative direction for the interiors, art collection, branding and signage.
EBD’s creative efforts have resulted in national and international recognition in over 200 publications, including Graphis, Print and How Magazines. Ellen was featured in GDUSA’s 2014 People to Watch issue, was honored with an AIGA Fellow Award in 2015, and was a judge of the 2017 Applied Arts Magazine Design Awards. Ellen has served on the boards of ADCD (now One Club), AIGA/Colorado, and is a Trustee Emeritis of the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver.
HOW AND WHY DID YOU COME TO USE DESIGN TO ADVANCE SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE AND/OR SUSTAINABLE PROJECTS, CLIENTS AND CAUSES?
I was raised by parents who valued giving back to their community. So, when I started my own design firm, I knew it was something I would incorporate into our firm DNA. Over the years, we’ve done pro-bono work for The Denver Zoo, Girls, Inc, The Children’s Museum, Hospice of Metro Denver, and many more. A few years ago, we formalized our internal process, dedicating 4% of the firm’s work towards non-profit projects.
We are currently focused on my passion for the arts, donating our efforts to MCA Denver, Redline Contemporary Art Center, and the Denver Art Museum. Our branding work for Redline supports their mission of fostering education and engagement between artists and communities to create positive social change. At MCA, we participate in their fundraising activities through gala invite designs and by helping to support their work with youth educational programs. Our environmental graphics for the ‘Studio Spaces’ at the Denver Art Museum engage youth communities of all ethnicities in the power of expressing creativity.
In addition, we ask our staff to think about their community and the ways in which they give back — be it time or money.
ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL CHALLENGES, OPPORTUNITIES, URGENCIES, OBSTACLES IN 2019?
Throughout the history of EBD, a refrain has been to create things that are cherished and get reused. Our 2018 MCA Denver gala invite was a lamp, which became a trustee’s outdoor patio light and an artist’s son’s bed lamp. The key is to create something that brings enjoyment and has an enduring quality over the years, not just for a few minutes before it hits the trash. I’ve frequently seen our pieces on people’s bookshelves, even years later, so I know our method is working.
That being said, we do a lot of consumer packaging, so the challenge is always to create as little packaging as needed. And we always try to design for a second life or determine if there is an environmentally friendly alternative package.