The most effective design tells a story

on October 13th, 2010

From Kit Hinrichs of Pentagram fame, who speaks my own principles better than I do, a statement of approach that resonates with every fibre of my creative muscle.

Kit Hinrichs is a legendary designer; but for me he is the one who put into words one of my strongest beliefs: the story matters. A design is stronger and more relevant if it has a story. It makes employees and customers alike feel closer to the brand. It becomes more than a simple pretty construction on a piece of paper. It lives.

So here it is, in the words of a design legend:

The Studio Hinrichs Approach

kit approach The most effective design tells a story

Whether the end purpose is a logo, packaging, marketing program, environmental way-finding system, promotion piece, consumer magazine or a book, we believe that the most effective design has a narrative thread. It communicates rather than decorates. It promotes understanding of a subject or philosophy. It makes the complex simple; the opaque, transparent; the unstructured, concrete; the obtuse, accessible; the ordinary, beautiful, and, ultimately, the message memorable. Narrative design is a way to help our clients tell the story of who they are and what they value and do so in a way that holds the viewers’ interest and makes them care.

There it is: why design matters. And the definition of good design, in my view of the world.

You can see more of Kit Hinrichs’s great design at

About Kit Hinrichs

kit thumb The most effective design tells a story

Kit Hinrichs founded Studio Hinrichs in October 2009, following 23 years as a partner of the international design firm, Pentagram. Prior to that, he was a partner in the design consultancy, Jonson, Pedersen Hinrichs & Shakery. Over the past few decades, Kit has been an influential force in graphic design. Included among the hundreds of projects that he has design directed are the California Academy of Sciences graphic identity program, Sony Metreon Entertainment Complex interior graphics, United Airlines’ Hemispheres Magazine, Design Within Reach identity and catalog, and countless annual report, corporate identity, packaging, exhibition, editorial, and promotional campaign programs. He is also the co-founder and design director of @Issue: Journal of Business and Design, which is now an online magablog —

Kit has taught at the School of Visual Arts in New York, the California College of Arts and Crafts in San Francisco, and the Academy of Art in San Francisco. His work has been honored and widely published internationally and several of his pieces are part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art and the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt Museum of Design. Kit is also the co-author of several books and a much sought-after guest speaker on design. An avid collector of Stars & Stripes memorabilia, his collection of over 3,000 objects has been exhibited across the country and in Japan, and presented in the book Long May She Wave (published by Ten Speed Press, 2001).

He is a Fellow, past executive board member and most recently (2004) a Medalist of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and a member of the distinguished Alliance Graphique Internationale. Currently, he serves as a trustee of his alma mater, Art Center College of Design, and on the Accessions Design and Architecture committee of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Some of my design stories

Just to make the point, you can read the story behind my Voluptas Agency logo and the Windfall brand.

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