SF Design week at Duarte!

Duarte Circle D logo

Written by

Dave Nguyen

In our front lobby, there’s a glass wall with titles etched into it. Words like designers, writers, creators, inventors, poets, makers, etc.

lobby glass wall with different titles etched in it "soldiers, composers, keepers, finders"

This is just a sample of the talent that lives in our shop.

As an Art Director here at Duarte, I’m lucky enough to work with all these incredible people on a daily basis. And on Tuesday, we opened up our shop to others in the creative community as part of SF Design Week (check out #sfdw2015 on Twitter for a behind-the-scenes look at the whole week!).

It was an incredible turnout. For this event, our guests were greeted with beverages and guided through the shop on an informative tour. During the tour, they explored our creative process in a walk-through exhibit, and visited a gallery of our own created and curated artwork.

Guests touring Duarte and looking at artwork made by Duarte employees

Guests viewing the exhibit of artwork and presentation slides designed

The group ended in our Town Hall for a quick peek at what we do best—presentations.

Nancy Duarte, our CEO and co-founder, started off the talk with our origin story. She and her husband Mark Duarte started out as a husband/wife freelance team. Over the last 25-plus years, that team evolved into one of the leading agencies in the world, focusing on visual storytelling. Ryan Orcutt, our Associate Creative Director, then took the stage for the final part of the keynote and told the audience about his journey as a designer and how the presentation landscape defined him.

Ryan said that through his experiences at Duarte, doors opened for him that he never imagined were possible. By being at Duarte, he had a seat at the table with CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, created visuals for a live stage event for an audience of thousands, and helped raise awareness for climate change with a former United States Vice President .

He said these experiences shaped him as a person as well as showed the influence presentation design has. Not just at Duarte, but also as a larger creative community. It also showed him what it took to be a successful member of this community.

“Knowledge of PowerPoint isn’t important. What’s important is that you’re a problem solver. A learner. A thinker. A tinkerer. That’s what makes you a great presentation designer. That’s what makes you a great storyteller.” – Ryan Orcutt, Associate Creative Director

It was invigorating to walk these guests through our halls for SF Design Week, talk to others about why presentations matter and how they have the power to shape the world through visual storytelling.

Everyone from professors in design, creative directors at other agencies, writers, aspiring designers, app developers to photographers like Sam Graves (@thesamgraves) and Salt Nuon (@shotbysalt) of the Mighty Killers came by to visit. Not only did they stay after the talk, but there also might’ve been a fierce ping-pong competition to cap it off.

And if these remarks from one UC Davis Design Graduate are any indication of the overall sentiment felt during the event, then we definitely conveyed how much our clients, our work, and this medium means to us.

“The amount of work and precision that goes into each project is something that I cannot properly describe. The best way I can characterize it is simply that Duarte cares. It is an aspect that resonates with me on a personal level. I want to spark that fire in someone to do something great, to inspire someone to achieve new heights, and to give back to the community.” – Christopher Kaufman, Design Graduate at UC Davis

So, in the end, we are everything that’s etched into our glass wall—designers, writers, creators, inventors, poets, and makers, among other things. But we’re also excited to grow that list and expand our family of creatives even further. Even if that means we have to get another glass wall.

Photo Credits: Sam Graves of the Mighty Killers