Recap | Choosing Raleigh: Because Brooklyn Doesn’t Need Another Designer

Designer Josh Gajownik, kicked off our March Homegrown with, why are we here? Brooklyn. Portland. San Francisco. Raleigh? We’ve all made investments by being here, working here, living here. Though Raleigh isn’t renowned as a creative hub of the world, he chose Raleigh because he wants to work where he lives. Working where you live is not easy financially or time-wise in other cities, like NYC, San Francisco, Portland, as it is in Raleigh.

Combining his love of science and design Josh began attending NCSU for aeroscience engineering. In his initial studies he learned that “empiricism extends far beyond science, into the humanities and the arts. Josh eventually changed to graphic design but always kept a scientific foundation in place. For example, he compared how creative ideas come together for a campaign in a similar fashion to how a star in space is born by absorbing nearby matter.

“As with science, it is observation and experimentation that drives meaningful design”.  

After graduation Gajownik considered relocating, preferring a more dense urban culture. He believes density creates opportunity. Josh pointed out how downtown Raleigh has lived in the past. There is no bakery, bookstore, or grocery store downtown, though soon there is to be a grocery and bakery. Why no monorail — missed our stop? NCMA is 6 miles away from downtown museums. We have national Hockey, but no place to go before/after a game. He showed us a map of where he would put these downtown.

It is time to create a New South. With all the choices of the past there are opportunites to create. Remember to embrace history but do not let it art direct the future. Sir Raleigh is not his royalty. Set your own future.

He met a local chef/restaurant owner Ashley Christensen after hearing about her plans for 3 restuarants/bars on the corner of Wilmington and Martin in Raleigh. He started with some “fun” designs and quickly realized that Ashley really understood the value of craft and design and was willing to spend money to create something that will stand the test of time. She used the Raleigh Printing Sign as an example.

Here are some idea gathering tips Josh has learned:

  • Create compelling client experiences
  • Use interior space to drive designs (floors, tiles, bricks, cords, hardware, furniture)
  • Client used Pinterest to show what he liked and it was very useful
  • Sharing playlists can give a designer a sense of your taste
  • Talk to others outside your field/profession
  • Stay connected with people of unlike minds

Thanks to Josh for sharing his experiences with the AIGA Raleigh Homegrown series.


By Maura McDonald
Published May 12, 2013