Inside the Designer’s Workshop

January 14, 2011—Designer and alumnus Don Donoughe takes IUP Magazine on a virtual tour of his Silicon Valley studio.

By Michael Powers

One of the more unusual aspects of last spring’s Paint & Pixels exhibit at the University Museum was that it gave equal attention to both Ron Donoughe’s painting and Don Donoughe’s graphic design.

We are all accustomed to seeing paintings hanging on the walls of a museum. But seeing websites and logo designs displayed as works of art was a new experience for many museum visitors, even if much of what was on display was already familiar to museum visitors. Award-winning graphic designer—and IUP alumnus—Don Donoughe has done work for clients as diverse as Disney, Sprint, Intel, Robert Mondavi, Adobe, Sun Microsystems, Catholic Healthcare West, Safeway, Second Harvest Food Bank, and a number of universities. So even if you do not know his name, you have probably seen his work before.

By providing Don Donoughe’s drafts and planning documents along with the finished products, the exhibit made visible the intense work and thought that go into even the simplest graphic design. (In fact, it is often the simplest designs that require the most work to achieve.)

Below, Donoughe takes IUP Magazine on a virtual tour of his Silicon Valley studio, guiding us through four projects from start to finish, and giving us greater insight into the work of the designer.

Identity Design

“At the end of the day, [a graphic identity] is just like a personality. It reflects the personality of the owners, the business, the operation.”

Creating the Unexpected

When the Portland Wine Project approached Donoughe to create a graphic identity for its new facility, “they wanted to do something that wasn’t expected.” It was a tall order, given how creative the design of wine bottles and labels has been in recent years; the diversity of design is “pretty incredible,” noted Donoughe, “from the very modern to the very traditional.”

Click any image below to start a slide show showing how Donoughe has developed a unique graphic identity for the Portland Wine Project.

An Identity in One Letter

Donoughe’s construction company logo is even more iconic than the logo for the Portland Wine Project. Since the name of the company began with an H, Donoughe focused on that letter for designing the identity: “I thought long and hard about what is the simplest iconic way to project construction and building with a simple H.”

Click any image below to start a slide show showing how Donoughe developed a simple yet powerful graphic identity for a construction company.

“I think design is about representing an idea in the most simple way possible.”

Website Design

“How can you differentiate yourself? Quality. When you see the site, you know that organization is a high-quality organization just by the way the whole experience is compiled. It’s the photo quality, the typography, the user experience, and the stuff that a lot of the users don’t even see. It’s the way the code is built…the way the copy is written. It’s how everything comes together.”

An Online Harvest

The Second Harvest Food Bank provides food to low-income households in California’s Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. Donoughe notes that Second Harvest was “always one of my favorite charity organizations. They’re great people and do a lot of great work. We took on this project [in 2003] to help them go more upscale with the site and make it easier for people to donate online.”

The new website was “very successful” and was followed by further redesigns. “They’ve gone on to much bigger and better things with [their website]. It just gets easier and easier to donate money and get involved with the organization. The website has become their primary means of outreach, and this was their first big step in that direction.”

More Compelling than Words and Images Alone

“We do a lot of work for Catholic Healthcare West, and one of the important pieces we do every year is their annual report.” Last year, the organization “decided to save money by doing a

smaller version” of the report that invited readers to visit the full report on the Internet, where video was used to make the work of Catholic Healthcare West “come to life.”

The projects above are only a fraction of the work Donoughe has done over the last two decades. Click any image below to begin a slideshow showcasing some of the work featured in the Paint & Pixels exhibit.

“I’ve spent a year doing websites that were up for six months to a year. …That’s why the show at IUP was so special to me—to show the work that has been done over the years, because a lot of it is hard to find on the Internet.”

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