Beware of Beauty
Over the course of her career, Anne Traver has had the good fortune to experience design from several vantage points-as a designer, a teacher and now, a creative leader.
Having earned her design degree from the University of Washington, she began as what she calls a "rational" designer-analyzing problems in a linear fashion to reach a sound design solution. But as her design sense matured, she says, "I really wanted to create work that went beyond the smart solution to inject something personal-something spontaneous and unexpected-to elevate a design and make you look twice." To this day, she admires designers who find a way to do both.
Anne's influences are many-from 1930's German collage artist Kurt Schwitters, to early 20th Century typography. She is particularly intrigued by the work of fine artists who became industrial designers in the early 1900s, to create art for the masses-everything from uniforms to dinnerware.
Anne also feels that AIGA has had a strong influence on her creative development. She invested a great amount of her time and energy in the founding of AIGA Seattle. By getting involved in the local and national chapters, she found herself learning from design's most creative thinkers and innovators. At one AIGA conference, she got to sit in on an unscheduled debate between Tibor Kalman and Joe Duffy who had opposing views on design and the issues of commercialism versus integrity. "That was an incredible opportunity to stimulate thinking about what design is and what our ethical obligations are. Another time, I ended up sitting next to Seymour Chwast-I was star-struck."
Pencil and Paper - the Roots of Graphic Design
Anne has also taught design at the University of Washington. "I ask students to begin a project with a pencil and tracing paper as opposed to a mouse. I believe in the value of sketching." She encourages her students to become familiar with the roots of graphic design so they'll have a long-term perspective that will help them see the difference between good design and trendy design. She also encourages them to look for inspiration in places other than design-fashion, music, writing, architecture and music.
Today, Anne's greatest passion is leading creative teams at Methodologie. "What I really strive for is to create an environment in which good design can happen." She wants to enable her designers to do their best work and feel comfortable taking creative risks. To her, that means "having enough structure so the client's needs are met every time, but not allowing that structure to squelch innovation."
Anne has had the opportunity to work on an amazing range of projects including identities, packaging, exhibits, signage, web sites and book design. Anne says that next, "I'd love to do more product design. Maybe design jewelry or do some 3D work like light fixtures. It's always exciting to do something I've never done before."
Her motto at the moment? "Beware of beauty. Because lovely isn't necessarily the most interesting design solution."
Written by Mary LaCoste, a Seattle-based freelance copywriter.