Renee & Robert Innis, with breakfast burrito.
Before you judge the photography skills of this writer, let me give you some context for that photo above. It was early on a Friday morning. We were all creatively drained—after all, that’s what happens when you work in this industry, right? And none of us could take in enough caffeine.
All that aside, we had a few moments of reflection available to us so we kicked back and talked about how the Design Corps. was born.
5 Questions for Rinse Design (Design Corps Founders)
Q: When did you launch Rinse Design, and what is your primary focus?
A: In October 2012. We’re doing a lot more specialization in socially focused work, and love to integrate print media with online branding.
Q: How did each of you end up in the design field, and what drew you to it initially?
A (Renee): I was always into art and illustration from a young age, and my high school offered a co-op program with the local community college. I needed to fill just a few extra credits to graduate, so I took the 3-hour course that was a series of graphic design projects from start to finish (including printing on our very own web presses). After that I was hooked and ended up attending the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.
A (Robert): My parents had careers in science, and I was in the arts as far back as I can remember. I thoroughly enjoyed technical drawing and watercolor, and I had a great high school teacher who mentored me throughout the summers. My parents couldn’t see the value of art as a career until a University of Cincinnati presentation opened their eyes to graphic design as a viable career path. The University’s design program was through the DAAP (Design, Architecture, Art & Planning) School, and it was oriented heavily towards the science of design. We got to go work in New York and Connecticut several times through the program, and I never thought of any other career.
Q: As the founders of Design Corps, what inspired the group?
A: We had conversations for years with a few area designers who are now members of our Advisory Committee (shout-out to Bram and Alex), and this coincided with our involvement with the NM AIGA board. We kept having these conversations about collaborative, cooperative space that could then facilitate larger projects. We realized that there was a minimal understanding of the talent in Santa Fe, and we wanted to elevate and highlight that talent all around us.
“We’ve been here 10 years, and knew only a handful of people. We’ve met more talented creatives than we ever imagined,” said Renee.
We wanted to create a resource where people could go to one central location and review what’s available to them.
Q: Now that DC’s first anniversary is coming up in May, what has surprised you the most about the group?
A (simultaneously): The reach.
“The outreach has been huge—designers who have been in the area for a long time, and those who are new here, are all feeling the need for this type of community. From a business standpoint, they are finding that everyone they talk to are excited that they can go to a central place to find talent,” said Renee.
We’ve also joined a national social enterprise alliance that facilitated education and mentoring. Now we are getting inquiries from around the country. We’re helping a New York-based design organization plan a conference here in Albuquerque, and we recently got contacted by a Cincinnati company looking for branding services.
“By broadening it to various disciplines, it’s created opportunity for illustrators, photographers and people who are on the fringe of the design world,” said Robert. “People are just so thrilled to have a space where they can talk about their business, design, ethical practices—it’s things we all deal with on a daily basis.”
Q: If you could work with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
A (Renee): I’m most interested in working within the community and creating opportunities to connect designers with businesses here to raise the standard—this will make us a very strong design-oriented community. We are also very interested in grant-funded work for social impact projects, and I think if I could choose, I’d like to work with someone who is doing this type of work on a larger scale.
[Robert: “Do they have to be dead or alive?” Me: “Either.”]
A (Robert): I would love to work with Brian Eno or—oh my god—David Byrne. He would be fascinating. I think the visual side of that would be someone like Ivo Watts Russell who did a lot of work for 4AD Records. He was my design idol. Hopefully he’ll read this blog post and get in touch!