Design is a
collective human act.

Civilization is a design practice that builds identity systems, digital experiences, printed materials, environmental graphics and exhibitions that are engaging, empathetic, sustainable and create meaningful connections. We immerse ourselves in the history of design, to understand where it has been and to glean where it is going. We work on a variety of projects for public, private and non–profit clients that share our commitment to creating positive change and promoting greater insights about our world.

Our practice is a recipient of the National Design Award for Communication Design from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in honor of “excellence, innovation, and enhancement on the quality of daily life.” Our internationally recognized work is included in the permanent collection of SFMOMA and the Milton Glaser Design Archives at SVA, has won numerous awards including a Webby Award for Best Activist Website, and is regularly featured in print publications as well as most major global media outlets such as The Guardian, The New York Times, The Huffington Post and NPR.

Awards & Collections



  • Bloomberg
  • Brand New
  • Dazed Digital
  • Fast Company
  • The Guardian
  • HOW Design
  • Huffington Post
  • IdN
  • IDPure
  • Metropolis
  • Monocle
  • The New York Times
  • NPR
  • Print Magazine
  • Time Magazine
  • Trendland
  • TypeWolf
  • UnderConsideration
  • The Verge
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • Wired


Talks, Workshops & Learning

  • CreativeMornings — Salt Lake City, UT
  • Frye Art Museum
  • General Assembly
  • Graphic Matters — Breda, The Netherlands
  • In Bed with Designers — Hong Kong
  • Northwest College of Art & Design
  • Practivism — Vancouver, CA
  • Seattle Central College
  • Seattle Interactive Conference
  • University of Washington — Communication Leadership (MCDM)
  • University of Washington — Professional & Continuing Education
  • Western Washington University — BFA Program
  • Yesler Community Center

Selected Clients & Partners

  • Arts & Culture

  • Art Market Productions
  • Biennale of Sydney
  • Burke Museum
  • Frye Art Museum
  • The Henry
  • HistoryLink
  • The New Foundation
  • Northwest Film Forum
  • Washington Trust
  • Causes

  • Death Over Dinner
  • Drugs Over Dinner
  • Farestart
  • Now Matters Now
  • Re–locate Kivalina
  • Shout Your Abortion
  • Civic

  • City of Seattle
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Transportation
  • National Head Start Association
  • Office of Arts & Culture
  • Seattle Public Library
  • Design & Architecture

  • AIGA
  • Bianco Light Space
  • Colorplan
  • Design Milk
  • Eric Trine
  • Fruitsuper Design
  • IDSA
  • KDF Architecture
  • Knoll
  • Metis Construction
  • Miller Hull
  • Mohawk Paper
  • Moleskine
  • NBBJ
  • Olson Kundig
  • Signal Architecture & Research
  • TypeCon
  • Visual Magnetics
  • WantedDesign
  • Fashion, Retail, & Self‑Care

  • Aēsop
  • Design Within Reach
  • Join Design
  • Olderbrother
  • Open-Editions
  • Orleans + Winder
  • Poketo
  • Prairie Underground
  • Project No.8
  • Renegade Craft Fair
  • Totokaelo
  • Vitruvi
  • Hospitality

  • Community Table
  • The Cloud Room
  • Hotel Sorrento
  • Maslow’s
  • Miro Tea
  • Rise Coffee
  • Sweetgrass Food Company
  • NGO

  • Forterra
  • Linksbridge
  • Mastercard Foundation
  • Pomegranate Center
  • Sustainable Conservation
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • World Economic Forum
  • Technology

  • CreativeLive
  • Dropbox
  • Microsoft
  • ReachNow
  • WP Engine
“Civilization events... are phenomenally generous and I want to come to them.” Paula Scher Partner, Pentagram

Creating accessible experiences that inspire, educate and connect with the creative community is at the core of our studio’s mission. We demonstrate this commitment through a variety of not–for–profit programs, in addition to our studio practice. These programs include our Design Lecture Series, our interview series, Beyond This Point, and our exhibition gallery, Non–Breaking Space.

Design Lecture Series

The Design Lecture Series aims to connect our creative community, stimulate conversation, and invigorate our downtown library by bringing global design legends to Seattle to lecture for free.

Posters from the series have won multiple print awards and are included in SFMOMA’s permanent collection.

Past Lecturers Include

  • April Greiman
  • Stefan Sagmeister
  • Ken Garland
  • Lance Wyman
  • Adrian Shaughnessy
  • Paula Scher
  • Experimental Jetset
  • Karel Martens
  • Emory Douglas
  • Kenya Hará
  • Saki Mafundikwa
  • Jessica Walsh
  • Sheila Levrant de Bretteville
  • Amy Auscherman

Beyond This Point

The Beyond This Point podcast is a series of conversations engaging the creative thinkers who inspire our work.

Each episode our Creative Director, Gabriel Stromberg, sits down with artists, business owners, designers, and leaders of all types to put a spotlight on different ways of seeing, thinking, and making.

Sessions are either recorded one–on–one or before a small live audience. Podcasts have been recorded in and around Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and Hong Kong before audiences ranging from 25 to 125 people.

Season One Included

  • Fruitsuper
  • Olderbrother
  • Lance Wyman
  • Kate Wallich
  • Assemble
  • Paula Sher
  • April Greiman
  • Robert Vazquez (Gran Fury)
  • Experimental Jetset
  • Adria Garcia
  • Davora Lindner
  • Pocketo
  • Archie Boston
  • Karel Martens

Non–Breaking Space

Non–Breaking Space is an exhibition gallery devoted to showcasing important works of graphic communication through collaborations with archives and museums around the world.

The gallery’s first exhibition — The Design of Dissent — was co–curated with design legends Milton Glaser and Mirko Ilic. Following its premiere in Seattle, it traveled to The Netherlands for the Graphic Means festival.

The name Non-Breaking Space references the HTML code   that prevents automatic line breaks. The gallery brings the digital into the physical. It is a space where people can gather, engage and interact with graphic design history.

“Civilization is dedicated to the refinement of the world’s visual clutter. And they happen to be very good at it, while simultaneously being incredibly great people.” Joseph Becker Associate Curator of Architecture & Design, SFMOMA

Civilization was built on a collaborative foundation by Michael Ellsworth, Corey Gutch, and Gabriel Stromberg. The collective intelligence of our team comes from dedication and experience in the fields of graphic design, technology, and the arts with diverse organizations — from museums to Fortune 100 companies.


Michael Ellsworth
Co-Founder / Principal

Gabriel Stromberg
Co-Founder / Creative Director

Corey Gutch
Co-Founder / Principal

Molly Derse
Programming & Partnerships

Òscar Viñas

Shaun Kardinal
Lead Web Developer

Raya Leary
Account Manager

( ( SHAKEN ) )