Two Minutes With // Rapt Studio

Hi there! We are excited to release our recent interview with David Galullo, of Rapt Studio, based in San Francisco, California. Now more than ever, genuine, connected, and consistent wins. Great brands, like all meaningful endeavors or important causes, are led by people who believe. They gather and find power in belonging to something larger than themselves, find solace in a shared experience. Rapt Studio has been created in direct response to this philosophy. They are a group of believers — crazy talented, intensely focused, and curious to a fault. They are architects, designers of all sorts, strategists, and dreamers. They come together to create the genuine, connected, and consistent experience necessary for a brand to thrive in 2016 and beyond. Be sure to take a look at their website for more.

Images courtesy of Rapt Studio.

VT: Graphic design and branding play important roles in your bold designs. How much do you involve the client in the design process and what role do they play throughout design development?

DG: Rapt Studio has been built on the idea that all things are connected and that the more meaningful connections lead to a stronger brand, a stronger culture and real belonging. To that end, when we are partnering with our clients to solve any number of problems; we work to discover the real DNA of that client — their “why” reason — why they show up to work and what can strengthen the connection between the company and their employees or customers. Clearly, in order to do this effectively, we need to develop a strong relationship with our clients, work closely with them, and, of course, bring them into the process of the design development.

Does that mean that they sit next to us and draw? Well, maybe sometimes, but mostly it means that we work iteratively with them; letting them see the “in-process” drawings and not necessarily waiting for everything to be figured out and for a beautiful presentation to be put together. This allows for depth to be brought to the relationship, and give us a better understanding of the nuance of the client’s personality. This allows for genuine connections to be formed.

So, those bold designs look great, yes, but the real measure of success is that they are meaningful connections to our clients’ staff, to their customers. They elicit an emotion that at the end of the day is the essence of a brand — the feeling you have about a company. They are bold, yes. But they are genuine, meaningful and connected …

VT: What are the biggest challenges that you face when working with clients such as Google or Apple who have globally recognizable and well established brands? Do conversations with these clients during the schematic design phase differ from those with more flexible brand identities?

DG: Every client that we work with has a different idea of brand and the connection that it should make to their staff and customer, so I am not sure how to single out one from another. Certainly with companies that have strong brands, it is in some ways easier to get to the “why” of their existence. From here we can build bridges to their employees or customers. I think that the key here is that we need to work to unearth the “why” of the brand. Our more sophisticated clients understand that there is a feeling that all of the brand touch-points should elicit. Clients like Google and Apple are good at aligning those touch-points. Others are not as good at it. Our job is to make sure that everything we do, every design move we make, every graphic design effort we put forth is aligned and all lead to that shared, genuine and meaningful brand expression — to the “feeling”.

So our work throughout, no matter how self-aware our clients, is to flush out the real, the genuine, and the meaningful, in order to make sure that we are making a real connection with every more we make.

VT: In a continually evolving consumer market, businesses need to adapt in order to thrive in the future. How often do you see businesses reinvent their spaces and/or identity to acclimate to an ever-changing market? How do you, as the designer, help them transition?

DG: The only thing that is for sure today is change. Our most successful clients understand that change is necessary and that evolution is a healthy business focus. We work to understand what is real and meaningful (see a trend here?) in our clients — the things that are important and that will never change, no matter what the company evolves into. Great brands understand that there is something meaningful and deep within them that will guide the evolution — will Google sell Pizza in the future? I doubt it, but we know that what they are doing today will most certainly be different 10 years from now. We design for the part of Google that will never change. We design for the mission and vision of our clients. We design for meaningful connections to the brand, for the reason why people are there, for the larger good of the organization. Hopefully when we do our job well, we fuel evolution within our client’s DNA.

VT: Office place design is evolving with the popularity of certification processes like LEED and the Living Building Challenge, which have provided an outlet to address environmental concerns in design. How is sustainable design integrated into your design process and what kinds of local environmental concerns are commonly addressed?

DG: We produce many projects that have various “green” certifications and believe that this is an important discussion. We also believe that there are limitations to the certifications — for example, why should I get “points” for buying stone flooring from a local quarry when I could have just polished the existing concrete and not pulled stone out of the earth at all?

Our strategy is to questions everything. We plan for equality of light and view; we design for the most frugal use of materials and work with local artisans to supply local, handmade, and sustainable furniture and lighting. It is our duty to be the watchdog for waste and to keep the conversation real and pointed toward a more sustainable future.