Designing for Designers (Preview)

A Website Redesign for a Global Design Firm

Images courtesy of Sasaki

By Joanna Chow, Senior Associate & Director of Communications, Sasaki, and Scott Dasse, Principal, Upstatement

Scott Dasse, Upstatement Principal (SD): On strong opinions.

If you’ve ever taken on a design project with a designer for a client, you know that dueling opinions often lead to frustration—theirs, yours, or both. It stands to reason, because designers are paid to have strong points of view. They know what they like. They have their own ideas and lofty goals. Designer egos? Let’s just say, self-confidence is a practical job requirement. And as consultants themselves, they know the traditional client management tricks and aren’t likely to appreciate being “handled.” Now imagine that your client is a whole room full of designers. Are you brave enough (foolish enough?) to believe you can lead them to accept your vision?

Of course there’s a more empathetic and productive way to think about designing for other designers. As clients, they will be deeply invested in the outcome, since designed outputs —even when commissioned—are a reflection of their own identities as designers. Therefore, you’re partners, not adversaries, sharing the same goal of creating beautiful design. And, if you stop designing for them and start designing with them, you can bring everyone to a more fulfilling end result, and they’ll respect you more for how you got there.

A Historic Brand Reinvents Itself

Joanna Chow, Sasaki Director of Communications (JC): Let’s start at the very beginning

In July 2019, Sasaki, a global design firm based in the Boston area, set out to redesign our website. Sasaki has shaped built environments around the world since its founding in 1953 by landscape architect Hideo Sasaki—then the chair of landscape architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Hideo blended disciplines of architecture and landscape architecture—and later, urban design, and planning—establishing an interdisciplinary practice long before “multidisciplinary” became a buzzword. His approach to integrated, contextual design forever changed the profession and the built environments that came out of his eponymous studio.

Over 65 years later, we have grown to over 300 people, with a satellite office in Shanghai. Globally, the firm has garnered over 800 awards for projects completed, with more than 500 institutions of higher education; Fortune 100 companies; and cities from Kabul, to Shanghai, to Ho Chi Minh City, to Lima. All of this is to say, the firm makes tremendous impact from its perch along the Charles River, but may have been Boston’s best-kept secret.

In 2016, we set out to redefine Sasaki’s brand…









From Design Museum Magazine Issue 016