Q&A with Robbi Muir, Design and Branding Expert for the NYC Building Industry
A Q&A with Robbi Muir, Design and Branding Expert for the NYC Building Industry
by RJ Diaz for RenovatingNYC.com – August 23, 2015
Robbi Muir is the creative director and principal of Muir Design, a Graphic Design Consultancy she founded in 1995 that works with companies, small businesses and solo entrepreneurs to provide branding expertise, logo redesign, capability brochures, corporate communications, direct mail programs, marketing collateral and website design services. The services are particularly focused on working with clients within the building industry and AEC service professionals. This includes real estate owners and real estate developers, architects, engineers, interior designers, planners and construction specialist firms.
Robbi was previously a Creative Director at a New York advertising agency that specialized in commercial real estate advertising and marketing. This position involved all aspects of creative design implementation for the commercial real estate industry – branding, building identity programs, sales and leasing brochures, print advertising, marketing collateral, sales office and building graphics for many of New York’s largest real estate owners and developers.
Robbi’s expertise has expanded to include corporate firms, financial service groups, professional firms, small business and building consultants in the AEC industry. Robbi takes responsible for the overview of all business and creative related functions including concept development, client liaisons, marketing strategies, project management, art direction and printing supervision.
Prior to moving to New York, Robbi worked as a graphic designer in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto. She was formerly the Editorial Art Director at The Globe and Mail news-paper; this early publishing experience developed her ability to deliver decisive design solutions under severe time restraints – skills appreciated by her clients today.
Robbi has also worked both on the client side and the agency side of the creative business in New York City over the past twenty years. Client side I worked on a full time basis with American Express, Dow Jones/The Wall Street Journal, the AKF Group and Douglas Elliman Real Estate. On the agency side –JP Lohman Group, Ogilvy Direct, Pace Advertising and RODE. More recently I worked directly as a design consultant with corporate clients, designing corporate identity packages, marketing print projects and websites.
RenovatingNYC recently had a Q&A session with Robbi and wanted to share it with our readers here.
Robbie, what are your current or recently completed projects?
The last comprehensive project was branding a new residential real estate property in the UES of New York City. “337e62.com”. This included logo design, signage, print collateral , photography and website design.
What is your favorite type of project?
My favorite type of design project includes branding with a 360 degree overview —this would include a logo design, some print collateral, a brochure, print advertising and a website design. The project could be for startup company or an established company that is merging or ready to upgrade their brand and marketing message.
Do you focus your graphic design services on a particular market sector or niche?
Yes, I am focusing on the AEC industry—particularly companies that work within in the building trade—architects, engineers, interior designers, lighting designers, residential real estate brokers, general contractors and real estate developers.
What is the most complex graphic design project you have worked on recently?
A complete marketing program for 337 East 62 Residential Condominiums. The marketing package included a very comprehensive set of components: identity for the building, construction signage graphics, a media kit, print collateral, sales brochure, location map, location photography, stylized custom floor plans, a sales presentation for the broker and a website.The total program took a year to complete—the last component was the finished website for the property that included photography of the model suite.
How do you develop the design of a project for a client?
I start with rough sketches and storyboards to develop a few initial ideas then share with client. I ask for the client’s input and opinion and then weight their comments to go to the next phase of the design. The majority of the design process is completed in the computer using the Adobe Creative Suite of software.We eventually narrow down the design choices and then zone in on one direction to a final design solution. I encourage client interaction in designing both print projects and websites.
What outside professional associates do you typically engage with for a larger project?
Copywriters, marketing strategists, photographers, videographers, SEO consultants and web programmers.
Robbie, please tell us about your childhood and education before becoming a professional.
I was born and raised in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. I went to the University of British Columbia for four years and studied Fine Arts with a major in 20th Century artists, completing a BA of Fine Arts. After college I attended the Vancouver School of Art and studied photography and graphic design. Two years later my husband and I moved to Montreal, where I worked as a freelance Illustrator with advertising agencies.
Then on to Toronto working in the newspaper business as an art director, first the Toronto Star and then the Globe and Mail. Eight years later we moved back to Vancouver and I freelanced as a graphic designer for real estate clients in the residential sector.
In 1985 we moved to NYC and I took a position as a Creative Director in an adverting agency that specialized in commercial real estate clients. In 1995 I left the agency and formed Muir Design and started working as a design consult—the rest is history…
What influence, experience, or moment guided you to have the business you have?
I was fascinated with drawing and color from an early age. I always knew that i would work in the creative area, but it took a while to really zone in on the particular expression of that. After working as an illustrator for a few years I discovered that by adding typography and composing elements into a page, that the design became more complex and informative.
Discovering photography also had an impact on the way that I view the world. It made me more aware of images around when framing a composition. So the process of bringing together drawing, color, type, photography, proportion, etc just got more rich and rewarding to me.
Do you have a mentor, muse, influence, or inspiration for the work?
I admire the work of Milton Glazer, David Ogilvy and Massimo Vignelli.
Anything with seafood
I can multi-task well
What movies have you seen recently?
“AMY” (documentary on Amy Winehouse)
“Love and Mercy” (documentary on Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys)
Any restaurant recommendations?
Madiba, Brooklyn. NY
FADA, Brooklyn, NY
Transformative travel experience?
A week in Paris.
Tribeca & Soho
Travel the Mediterranean coast in a convertible.
What publications do you subscribe to?
New York magazine, Vanity Fair, Bazaar, Town & Country, Esquire, W, Metropolis,
Are you involved with any charities or support any philanthropic causes?
TAPROOT, NYC where I offer Pro-bono graphic design work for companies needing support.
What tech gadget can’t you live without?
For more information or to connect with Robbi Muir:
552 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205
Robbi is a member of the Art Directors Club of NY, the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and Adrian’s Network, NYC.
Completed branding and website projects by Muir Design: