Hug™ Profile: Rob Alexander

Rob Alexander is an extremely talented, and insanely humble designer based in Framingham, MA. I had the pleasure to work with him for about year at Tank Design where he was the Design Director. Anyone who has crossed paths with this man knows how rare and special he is. I am proud to profile him and his work here on GraphicHug™.

GH: Please introduce yourself.

RA: Rob Alexander. I’m the Design Director at Office in San Francisco (although, I do the job remotely from my home outside of Boston)

GH: Describe your role as a graphic designer. This can be something ideological, or a mere description of your day.

RA: I think the thread that connects most of what I do is this notion of story telling. Depending on the project, I’m either creating a story from scratch or adding to an existing narrative. But, all the same things that go into a great story are the things that I’m considering when working on a project. It doesn’t matter if it’s packaging design, print ads, a website, a store interior, or an event. At the end of the day, I’m just trying to connect with someone on the other end. I’m trying to make them feel something. Because that’s what ultimately motivates people.

GH: Please name 5 creators you greatly admire and whom have influenced your creative outlook.
Man, I’m so all over the place in terms of influence. It really depends on what I’m working on… but here are some that come up more than others:
Chris Ware, Charley Harper, Mary Blair, Marilyn Neuhart, Andy Spade, Tom Sachs, Dieter Rams, Paul Rand, Herb Lubalin, Gerd Arntz, Herbert Leupin, Otl Aicher, Marian Bantjes, Sanna Annukka and Ed Ruscha.

GH:  If you hadn’t become a designer what would you have liked to become?
RA: OK, you have to understand, I think this is my favorite question to ponder. It’s something I think about all the time. So here’s my list (and yes, all of my ideas about these professions are the completely romanticized versions):
Architect: I think this one is a bit of a cliché for a lot of designers. But there’s something so amazing about the idea of creating spaces. An environment that is both useful and beautiful — a home, a hotel, a restaurant, a library. What an interesting and totally overwhelming problem that must be to solve.
Chef: You’d never know it (I don’t actually cook all that much) but I’m fascinated by the idea that cooking is a skill that has this beautifully artful element to it, but at its core is completely utilitarian (providing sustenance). I’m also interested in all of the environmental and ethical decisions around food.
Furniture Maker: I have such admiration for really well crafted wooden furniture. The stuff that just gets better the more you use it. And I’m kind of a sucker for these apprentice based professions … the ones where there’s really no quick way to get into it. You really have to do your time under someone who really knows what they’re doing. Love that.
Shopkeeper: I love really well made useful products (like a good umbrella). And I’m borderline obsessed with the idea of arranging and curating “things” (ask my wife). So, I’ve always loved the idea of owning a shop. I think it would be a great outlet for me.
Painter: This was actually my intention when I first went to college (and it’s something I continued to study along with design). I still paint (but not enough).
Teacher: This is something I could still see myself doing some day. We’ll see.
Professional Cyclist: I actually had a go at this (ok, nowhere near the professional level). But it’s the greatest sport (minus all of the doping). Honestly, I would probably take any job on a pro cycling team. Or Bike-building… I love classic steel road racing bikes. I’d love to start a bike brand.

Thank you so much for your time Rob! We wish you and your growing family the best!


  1. Crystal says:

    Rob, you’re awesome! I’m your biggest fan. =D

  2. erik says:

    great interview, great man, great designer.

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