Designer of the Week: Dava Guthmiller

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Designer of the Week Dava Guthmiller is CEO and creative director for Noise 13 Design, an all-women, San Francisco-based branding firm that’s been going strong for 17 years now. Below, she discusses kickstarting a design conference on the creative process, shares with us her team’s latest and greatest work, and gives us just a peek into her team’s newest side project.

Name: Dava Guthmiller

Name of Studio: Noise 13

Location: San Francisco


Design school attended: Academy of Art University

How would you describe your work?

Noise 13’s work is rooted in brand strategy. We are drawn to heavily graphic visuals, but adapt to unique solutions, styles and techniques best suited to each client we work with. I focus on business development, strategy and creative direction. And love when I’m able to get my hands dirty in execution!

Where do you find inspiration?

Travel is a big inspiration—both for me and the creative team—from discovering new color combinations and graphics, to observing other cultures and their different needs and tastes. This getting out-of-the-office inspiration can lead to bigger a-ha moments, especially when combined with client insights and their specific industries, needs and audiences.

work by Dava Guthmiller and Noise 13 team

Who are some of your favorite designers or artists?

For branding and graphics, I’m currently loving the illustrative style of Riley Cran, and Steve Wolf, the simplicity of Brandon Nickerson’s work. Also, the bold, unapologetic style of Morag Myerscough always makes me smile, as her work crosses the line between art and design often. I also love Kelly Ording and Lucky Rapp; both are San Francisco artists with a great graphic-heavy style.

work by Dava Guthmiller and Noise 13 team

Do you have a favorite among all the projects you’ve worked on?

Most recently, I’ve really loved our Amber & Ash project. This was an amazing full brand build with an open-minded client. We were given a completely clean slate. We began with a category—the crowded cell phone accessory market—and were asked to come up with brand positioning for a new case line. We then applied our strategic positioning to naming, branding, product and packaging. Being able to really utilize brand to build a business was extremely satisfying. We also loved and believed in the product itself, and the gap it was filling. Our team created a curated color-centric brand based on seasonal trends, while also covering physical and functional aspects of the “ideal case.” I wish we could have bought this brand after we finished, but alas it’s now in the hands of the client to do what they will for future growth.

work by Dava Guthmiller and Noise 13 team

Is there a project that stands out to you as having been the biggest challenge of your career so far?

Planet, an earth imaging/space company, was a rewarding challenge for the in-depth research needed to understand a new industry and communicate that clearly to a wide audience. This industry was way outside our normal lifestyle focus, but being an outsider actually helped us to ask new questions and view the brand from a general public view. Once we nailed down the brand positioning and messaging, the rest fell into place in a way that is relatable to anyone. Connecting to all Planet’s target audiences with one main emotional need was key to this project. It took a full collaboration of our team and Planet’s to bring this project to life.

work by Dava Guthmiller and Noise 13 team

What do you hope to accomplish in the future?

To bring new inspiration into our day-to-day work, I would love to do more non-client projects that allow us to fully explore, push our boundaries, and connect us to our community (both design and otherwise). We’re currently working on two of these: We just launched a new design conference on the creative process, In/Visible Talks! Happening January 11th in San Francisco, the one-day conference brings together makers of all mediums (including a stellar list of global speakers) to share the raw stories/thinking/play/and process behind their craft. The other project we’re super excited about is a magazine-style website that focuses on women in cannabis—more details coming soon. 🙂

work by Dava Guthmiller and Noise 13 team

What’s your best advice for designers today?

Learn to present and talk about your work from the point of strategy and concept as much as possible. Yes, visible creative work should be aesthetically pleasing, but knowing why you made your choices and being able to communicate that is something only a human can do. As templates overtake the digital space, and software can design a logo for you, designers need to di
g deeper into their work to retain value for the profession.

work by Dava Guthmiller and Noise 13 team

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