David Schuemann


Over the past 20 years, David Schuemann has established CF Napa Brand Design as one of the world’s preeminent branding agencies specializing in the alcohol beverage category. CF Napa has created some of the fastest-growing, most coveted and successful alcohol brands in the world. The firm’s work has earned international recognition from almost every major design competition and has been showcased in some of the most prestigious museums, including the Museum of Modern Art. CF Napa’s work is part of the permanent collection at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum at the Smithsonian in New York City and the permanent collection of the American Design Archives at the Denver Art Museum. In 2013, Schuemann authored 99 Bottles of Wine, The Making of the Contemporary Wine Label. The book offers a rare behind-thescenes look at how innovative creative packaging design drives some of today’s most successful wine brands while featuring 40+ years of design work from the firm. David has served on the advisory board for Women of the Vine and currently serves on the board for Artisan Spirit Mag, where he is considered a thought leader in branding for the growing craft spirits industry. In addition to his involvement in a variety of industry organizations, David speaks regularly about strategic branding and design at conferences worldwide.

Has the pandemic changed your workplace and your workflow? Do you expect to return to pre-pandemic ways of working or will any changes become the ‘new normal’?

The pandemic has forced CF Napa, like most agencies, to work largely remotely from the office, one another and our clients. We were fortunate in that we already had systems in place to allow for our team to work remotely. In addition, many of our clients are located outside of California and the US, so we were already accustomed to working remotely with many of our clients. The question of whether this is good or bad is not a simple one. Certainly, the flexibility can be wonderful for some employees and for others a curse of distractions at home. The sense of isolation from the team can be very real for many. I’ve always felt strongly that the best teams and creative energy result from direct interaction with one another. I don’t care what anyone says about remote teams, there is a special magic that can’t be replicated remotely. You can get close, but the camaraderie, the spontaneous inspiration and sparks are missing from remote teams in many cases. We expect to return to pre-pandemic ways of working with a mixture of new remote employees as well. There is a balance there that we now know we can achieve — leveraging the best of both worlds.

What do you expect 2021 to hold for graphic designers and the design business? Have the challenges of 2020 changed the way you think about your job and career or the role of design?

I expect 2021 to be a year of recovery and slowly getting back to normal in many ways. I feel that designers will be central to rebuilding the sense of connection between all of us that was lost during this tumultuous time. In our particular specialty of alcohol brands, we anticipate the trend of brands building their digital presence to increase and the need for design to play a more important part in that than ever. Many brands have learned the hard lesson of focusing too singularly on one channel of communication or sales — that has surely changed forever. We anticipate a large resurgence of brand investment and innovation as companies look to capitalize on the pent-up demand from consumers and an economy that will hopefully begin to roar again.