Things Are Getting Better
by Scott Stowell

At Open, we try to do work that’s essential. We make things people can use, experience, and enjoy in a very direct and efficient way. People expect communication to be meaningful. Text on a page is there to be read. Images also have meaning and power. So for us it’s very important to be intentional — that every decision we make is in support of the ideas being communicated.

We are interested in design solutions that solve a lot of problems — conceptual, functional, visual, political — in elegant ways. By focusing on content, all of these issues become even more critical. The more directly ideas are presented, the more compelling those ideas need to be. Working this way makes our job a lot harder, but the process is more fulfilling for us and the results are more rewarding for users.

September 11 changed a lot of things about living in New York — our studio is less than a mile from the site of the World Trade Center — but it didn’t change the way we work. In the short term, there are a lot of issues to deal with: the economy is slow, people are scared, and the future is uncertain. But there’s still a lot of work to be done and people are still as smart as they always have been. Things are getting better.

This piece originally appeared in Graphic Design: USA, January 2002.