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
  • The Brand Identity
  • Brand New
  • Dazed Digital
  • Fast Company
  • The Guardian
  • HOW Design
  • Huffington Post
  • IdN
  • IDPure
  • Metropolis
  • Monocle
  • The New York Times
  • Novum
  • 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

  • The American LGBTQ+ Museum
  • Art Market Productions
  • Biennale of Sydney
  • Burke Museum
  • Frye Art Museum
  • The Henry
  • HistoryLink
  • Newark Museum
  • Northwest Film Forum
  • Participant Media
  • Seattle Arts & Lectures
  • Smithsonian Institute
  • Washington Trust
  • Causes

  • Death Over Dinner
  • Drugs Over Dinner
  • Farestart
  • JustLeadershipUSA
  • Nourish
  • Now Matters Now
  • Shout Your Abortion
  • Civic

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

  • AIGA
  • Colorplan
  • Design for America
  • Design Milk
  • Fruitsuper Design
  • Hoffman Construction
  • IDSA
  • Metis Construction
  • Miller Hull
  • Miller Knoll
  • 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
  • Poketo
  • Prairie Underground
  • Project No.8
  • Renegade Craft Fair
  • Totokaelo
  • Vitruvi
  • NGO

  • Bill & Melinda Gates Discovery Center
  • Forterra
  • Linksbridge
  • Pomegranate Center
  • Sustainable Conservation
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Technology & Science

  • Adyn
  • The Biomimicry Institute
  • CreativeLive
  • Dropbox
  • Recompose
  • 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
“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. 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

Corey Gutch
Co-Founder & Principal

Òscar Viñas

Raya Leary
Research & Project Strategy

Molly Derse
Programs & Partnerships

Trish Chua
Account Management

Shaun Kardinal
Lead Web Development