Design Thinking with Luke Armitage

by Bulldog Drummond

Uncommon design thinking creates brands, products and experiences that break through the noise and meaningfully connect with people by looking, feeling and being completely different. We follow great designs and those that create them.

Our Design Director, Garrett Patz was recently asked to be a part of a panel of judges at the San Diego City College Graphic Design 2016 Portfolio Review sponsored by AIGA. The event is the show & tell of the west coast college design programs. New designers and veteran creatives tour the work of over 50 graduating design students that include fourteen discipline categories. Garrett noticed a high level of design thinking at the event and was greatly inspired by Luke Armitage who took first place.

“What struck me about his portfolio was how different and unique it was.” — Garrett Patz

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We had the opportunity to speak with Luke to learn more about his perspective on design and the emergence of design thinking with students.

Why design? Where does your passion come from?

It’s kind of a long story. Short version, I like art and I like to solve problems. I am a visual learner so design really speaks to me.

How do you define design thinking?

To me, design thinking is a creative process that helps to solve problems in a purposeful way. One of the main takeaways from my teachers’ and mentors’ advice is that every design decision needs to have a reason. Too often people see designers as people who design a certain way “just because”. But great designers have reasons for everything they do.

How do you think design thinking can impact brands today?

Design thinking can impact brands by helping them make smarter and more strategic design decisions that impact the brand as a whole. There are so many companies and different platforms to market those companies. It is very easy for a brand to get lost in the mix. But by focusing on things like target audience, positioning, communication and differentiation, and merging those ideas with design, designers can bring together beauty and functionality that will not only set a brand apart from its competitors but allow it to sustain itself over the years.

How do you start the design thinking process?

I like to start by defining the problem and figuring out the goals. Asking questions like “Who is the target audience for this project?” and “What do they want to accomplish through this design?” help me decide how I need to go about solving the task at hand. The clearer the answers are to those questions the more focused the process and result can be.

Researching and organizing different design principles brings the project together. I focus on the color palette, photography, typefaces, logo sketches and other design elements and develop a strategy so that everything stays true to the brand and remains consistent. I write a lot down and I like to sketch. In my car and room are a bunch of books, journals and pieces of paper with notes and drawings on them.

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How do you hope to impact the world through design?

I hope to help make the world a better place to live. I think that the world can be very dark, chaotic and messy. Design can help change that and I think that is one of the reasons I am so attracted to it. Good design solves problems, it brings order and beauty into a world of chaos. If I can somehow contribute to making things more beautiful, simple and clear, I think that would be pretty rad.

I know it’s possible. I experienced it firsthand with my teachers every day at San Diego City College. The amount of time my professors, like Sean Bacon, dedicated to helping us explore design is remarkable. They are teaching and empowering so many students every day. If you look at how Rafael and Candice Lopez are creating experiences like the Urban Art Trail, where they’re bringing people together to design art to help make neighborhoods a more beautiful and safer place to live. It’s inspiring and shows the impact design can have on the world.

Where do you turn for design thinking inspiration?

When I made my portfolio, I focused on branding and identity. I was inspired by two books, Brand Atlas: Branding Intelligence Made Visibleand Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team both written by Alina Wheeler. There is a lot of really great information in these books.

Inspiration is also drawn from watching movies and TV shows. Something about the beauty of cinematography, music, timing, color, sound and story all coming together to create an experience is really inspiring and can motivate me to create a vibe for a brand.

I also like to look through magazines, Behance, Pinterest, photographs, old books, art journals and shows. Paintings and sculptures from the Renaissance and Baroque era really speak to me. There are so many talented artists and designers, and now with the internet there are endless resources at your fingertips. Great design is everywhere.

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To connect with Luke further visit his website:

Originally posted on the Bulldog Drummond blog.

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