“He always finds a way to illuminate the beauty and truth of an idea”
San Francisco-based Forest Young is head of design and global principal for Wolff Olins and has some of the most recognisable recent branding projects under his belt, including the 2018 Uber redesign. At the heart of Young’s work is considerations around accessibility and design, and how today’s brands must engage with tech while remaining relevant and smart across cultural divides, like language barriers. Alongside his design work, Young has also had his art displayed at MoMA and other museums worldwide, having also written about design, tech and culture for several platforms. Is there nothing the man can’t do?
Some of the biggest names in US design are certainly quick to sing his praises. “In the bleak and enervated world of corporate brand identity, Forest Young brings two things that are desperately needed: joy and common sense,” says Michael Bierut, Pentagram New York partner. “Forest never forgets that design, at its best, is something that human beings do for the benefit of other human beings.” Dana Arnett, founding partner and vice chairman at VSA Partners and current president of AIGA's national board of directors adds: “In today's information rich world, rarely do you find a designer who creatively dances across multiple mediums with such masterful fidelity. Forest not only cuts through the clutter, he always finds a way to illuminate the beauty and truth of an idea”.
With much of Young's design work focusing on tech brands, the designer says that the most important considerations are to “be reassured that all brands are simply human relationships, or the attempt to build one, and that technology alone can never fully satisfy a human need.” He adds: “It is also important for designers not to succumb to the monotonous aesthetic that has become normalized in the world of tech, rife with geometric sans typography flanked by flat illustrations”.
As such, it's little surprise that he cites his Uber rebrand as one of the projects he's most proud of in his career. “It was a turning point for their company and the world-at-large who was growing sceptical about the merits of tech unicorns,” says Young. “The design team worked tirelessly to make an outcome that felt elegantly simple.”