Polymode is a bi-coastal, queer, and minority-owned graphic design studio leading the edge of design with thought-provoking work for clients across the cultural sphere. We collaborate with innovative businesses, community-based organizations, and those shifting the world through social justice. By advocating for clear and transparent structures of communication, compensation, and relationships, Polymode creates a radical approach to design where the product emerges from a process of mutual respect and enjoyment. Our team promotes ecological and social sustainability in and out of the studio. Polymode’s core principles are to ignite minds, impact hearts, and uplift marginalized voices, through poetic research, design, and educational initiatives.

Our specialties include books, curation, education, exhibition, identities, interfaces, publications, visual design, websites, workshops, and writing. We operate between the complexity of designed systems and lived experience—our core principles of visual expression, media adaptability, and typographic function.

We operate with the ethos of Studio as family. Our clients include Art Gallery of Ontario, City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, Cooper Hewitt Design Museum, David Kordansky Gallery, Hauser & Wirth, Institute of Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University, Mark Bradford at the Venice Biennale, MOCA, MoMA, The New Museum, Phaidon Press, Phoenix House, Pulitzer Arts Foundation, Orange County Museum of Art, and Studio Museum in Harlem.

Poetic Research

Poetic research takes into account the factual with the formal, the universal with the outsider, the sacred, the mystical, the cerebral prophet, and the fool. Let it be lofty, let it be magical and ancestral, let it be sensory, let it be funny with a divine kiss of queerness. It holds the space of a project searching for the details in archives, footnotes, and marginalia within the great force of history. Finding the tone of voice and incorporating form as a mode of thought—true, but it also just comes down to us wanting to make cool shit. Our poetics unearth and amplify; remember connections and lineages; shapes grids, structures information, and clarifies content. It is not all woo woo, sometimes it asks how many words fit, what is a realistic timeline, or how to save money. Research guides Polymode and its clients in making with a question.

Silas Munro

Partner

Silas Munro is a partner of Polymode, a studio that leads the edge of contemporary graphic design through poetic research, learning experiences, and making cool shit for clients in the cultural sphere, innovative businesses, and community-based organizations. Past collaborations include the City of LA Mayor’s Office, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, Mark Bradford at the Venice Biennale, and MoMA. Munro’s writing appears in the book, W. E. B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America published by Princeton Architectural Press. The book is covered by articles in Smithsonian Magazine, The New Yorker, and Black Perspectives. Munro has been a visiting critic at MICA, RISD, and Yale. He is particularly interested in the often unaddressed post-colonial relationship between design and marginalized communities. Munro holds an MFA from CalArts and a BFA from RISD, where he met Brian Johnson and began collaborating. Munro is Founding Faculty and Chair Emeritus at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Brian Johnson

Partner

Brian Johnson is a partner of Polymode where he focuses on creative direction, design production, writing, and teaching. Born into a family of printers, Johnson is deeply invested in the production of good design without the expense of sacrificing our humanity or environment. He is a member of the Monacan Nation and holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. He has guest lectured at the School of Visual Arts, Washington University, University of California Santa Barbara, and the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University. His recent clients have been Glenn Kaino Studio, the Getty Museum, Studio Museum Harlem, Pulitzer Art Foundation, Phaidon Press, The New Museum, and the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum where his writing appears in Willi Smith: Street Couture. His most recent publication: Queering the Grid: Reading Codes in Dan Friedman’s Teachings (with Silas Munro) has led him to his current design writing research on Friedman’s 1994, Radical Manifesto, which will be approaching its thirty year anniversary.

Randa Hadi

Associate Partner

Randa Hadi is a Kuwaiti designer, researcher, architect, and informal archivist who uses her positionality as an Arab immigrant to explore the interweaving of themes relating to Arab identity, belonging, and representation. Her work is deeply rooted in visualizing the multiplicity in narratives for clients like The New York Times, Airbnb, the Brooklyn Museum, Storefront for Art and Architecture, Frye Art Museum, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Art Gallery of Ontario whose recent exhibition catalog What Matters Most: Photographs of Black Lives was awarded AIGA’s 50 books 50 covers in 2022. As an Associate Partner at Polymode, she is interested in getting lost in the archive: uncovering, unearthing, and inspiring her design practice that is nuanced, detailed, and multi-vocal. 

Randa received her MA in graphic design from North Carolina State University with her thesis “A State of (Betweenness): Narrating Transnational Family Histories Through a Dynamic Digital Archive,” her BA in architecture from the University of Miami, and is a producer and educator for BIPOC Design History.

Email her at randa@polymode.studio

Michelle Lamb

Senior Designer

Michelle Lamb is a senior designer at Polymode, her work is rooted in creative problem solving and typographic detail with a strong focus on the relationship between ideas and reality. As a designer, ballet dancer, and yoga practitioner Michelle’s work seeks to improve the connection between people and their visual world. She worked with Polymode in the exhibition and publication design of Willi Smith: Street Couture for Cooper Hewitt and her freelance includes work for Nestle, LA Philharmonic, Pitzer College Art Galleries, Green Dragon Office, and the Santa Monica School District. Michelle received her BFA in Communication Arts from OTIS College of Art and Design with a minor in Book Arts.

Email her at michelle@polymode.studio

Audrey Davies

Studio Manager

Audrey Davies is the Studio Manager for Polymode. She has a hand in most of the practical studio operations, including studio correspondence, timetables, client outreach, project management, writing and more.

Email her at audrey@polymode.studio

Edgar Casarin

Media Designer

Edgar Casarin is our Media Designer at Polymode. His work includes production and planning, web design, and motion graphics. Edgar played a role in the production and promotion of BIPOC Design History’s second chapter, Incomplete Latinx Stories of Deseño Gráfico. He has a BFA in Communication Design from Otis College of Art and Design.