For­est Young

“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.”

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