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Interview with Gage Mitchell – Designer for a Better World
Photo: Courtesy of Gage Mitchell

As a principal, creative director, and strategist, Gage sees everything as a design challenge. Whether it’s designing new business strategies, designing to solve community problems, or designing your life to be more fulfilling. When he saw wonderful people and beautiful countries mired in a sea of western trash on a long overseas trip, much of which had been designed by someone like him, he found inspiration for his next challenge—to design a better world by building a responsible design studio that works with mission-driven brands and spreads sustainable design knowledge. Ten years later that studio, Modern Species, is now an internationally recognized sustainable and socially responsible brand studio with clients ranging from the start-up phase to billion dollar global businesses.

Outside of his studio Gage also sits on the AIGA national board as the Presidents Council Chair, on the AIGA National Design for Good Task Force as a Co-Chair, and as President Emeritus of AIGA Seattle.

When Gage isn’t trying to save the world with design, he’s probably sipping delicious craft beer, experimenting in the kitchen, reading about business and life strategy, or watching a cheesy movie.

Q: TRUST in design is…

A: Trust in design is essentially branding, if we assume branding means being an authentic entity that can fulfill it’s promises. I wrote an article about this subject a couple years ago, which you can find here.

Q: Where have you found TRUST in design?

A: I’ve found trust by design in authenticity, transparency, and consistency. Authenticity by design means being brave enough to be who you uniquely are without trying to be something else. Transparency by design means being humble enough to own up to your current state of existence, owning the fact that you aren’t perfect and being okay with that so long as you’re improving. Consistency by design means being predictable enough that people always know what to expect of you, and can rely on you.

Q: Where do you see a need for TRUST in design?

A: I see a need for trust in most areas of business and design, but for the sake of brevity I’ll focus on branding and corporate social responsibility. In both areas it’s critical to communicate your intentions, follow up on those promises, be honest about your shortcomings, and include your stakeholders in your journey. If you do those four things, you’ll build trust, and therefore brand loyalty.

Q: Tell us about a project that you completed that you are most proud of.

A: While I wouldn’t call it complete, one project I’m particularly proud of is co-authoring the Path to Impact, AIGA’s methodology for designing toward sustainable, measurable impact. This was developed through our Design for Good task force and aims to bring together design thinking, sustainable design, socially responsible design, behavior design, diversity and inclusion, the theory of change, and many other great impact theories into a cohesive, accessible, and actionable workflow that can lead any organization or community through the process of designing impact. We’ve just launched it a few months ago and received our first grant last week, so I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

Q: If you could have one superpower what would it be and why?

A: If I could have one superpower, it would be to spread compassion to everyone I touch, and then everyone they touch, so our species would stop being so selfish and start making collective decisions that actually work in our, and the rest of the planet’s favor.

Q: What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your work? What do you want to contribute?

A:  My ultimately goal in business is to design a better world. In other words, I want to make a lasting positive impact on people, the planet, and ideally the economy by using the power of design to help good people and businesses thrive. That’s why I started my design studio, why I volunteer for AIGA, and why I decided to put these Corporate Social Responsibility events on for the Seattle Design Festival. The more I do with this goal in mind and the more people I can do it with, the more impactful we can be together.


Learn more Gage’s work:
Website – / / /
Facebook – @modernspecies / @gagemitchell
Twitter – @modspec / @gagemitchell
Instagram – @modspec / @gagetheperson
Email – [email protected]