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26 June 2017

Formation: A Decade, Plus

from Philip LeBlanc, Founder and President of Formation 

Formation completes its tenth year as a design office this month, celebrating our evolution from an environmental graphics consultant to a full-service design office. As Formation’s founding principal and President, I am most proud of the assembly of our amazing team of strategists, designers, and creative professionals who collectively share in the belief that meaningful research informs thoughtful design solutions. As a team, we are entering our second decade of practice with optimism and enthusiasm.


We believe the new space race is accountability. Originally conceived as an office that creates beautiful and intelligent work, Formation has evolved. Today, we embrace a philosophy that good design is about clarity over style and accountability over ego. Our work revolves around a user-centered process that involves collecting detailed input from our clients and interacting with end users. This critical input sheds new light on the solutions we propose and allows us to create value at touchpoints that may be undiscovered. 
By humbling ourselves and opening our minds to new possibilities, we embrace the idea that to be good leaders, we must be great followers. Our best work occurs when we embed ourselves in the field, observe behaviors, and collect data on the improvised tools people use to navigate and communicate. Some of our finest innovations come from synthesizing these assets into formal design solutions. By learning from each of our unique clients, we can work to keep mutualism at the center of our process thereby empowering our partners and their users.

Design excellence

We have built a diverse portfolio of work in our first decade. From large-scale planning and implementation projects for nationally-recognized institutions to identity development for local brands, our work is shaping and improving outcomes across the country. The variety of our work fuels our creativity and showcases our ability to come into any situation and find appropriate solutions.

We helped the Houston Zoo revive and rebrand a mid-century landmark, the Central Concessions building at Duck Lake, as a unique and inspiring public space now known as Cypress Circle. The project team retained the historical value of the original structure while infusing a contemporary design to better reflect the customer experience and drive increases in revenue.

Over the years we have worked with nonprofit organizations like The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion to design a new signage and wayfinding system for the most popular amphitheater in the world. We partnered with the Cunae International School to develop a new identity system including graphics for key brand touchpoints. 
We recently completed an expansion of our award-winning 2010 wayfinding master plan at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The end result effectively doubles the size of the hospital’s main campus. Our master plan expansion emphasizes the power of how our carefully curated wayfinding and spatial branding systems can scale with the same effectiveness and delight as the original implementation.

We’re currently engaged with a variety of exciting projects including University of Houston’s new basketball arena, the Fertitta Center; campus-wide improvements at Texas Children’s Hospital; supporting the expansion of Goode Company across the Houston area; an all-new design system for Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.

Charting a new course

Historically, Formation has focused on design for built environments and wayfinding systems. The more we work with our clients and understand their business objectives, however, the more opportunities we see to help our clients and their users through design. Each touchpoint – brand, user experience, or spatial – is a chance to communicate a company’s mission and values.
We have augmented our office’s capabilities through recent additions to our leadership team:

Daren Guillory, Design Director
Daren brings 15 years of design experience having worked with an array of branding and design agencies in the Houston area. His focus on brand identity, print design, and web design helps us support our clients across all mediums.

Tyler Swanner, Creative Director
Tyler has worked with creative agencies in Houston and served as an independent creative consultant across the country for projects in fashion, music, entertainment, and community development. His ability to digest challenges in context and develop creative strategies is instrumental to solving complex challenges.

Chris Fohlin, Managing Director 
Chris joined Formation after eight years in New York City working for technology companies and digital agencies. His expertise in digital strategy supports our clients and their needs across web, mobile, and social media while his internal operations experience has helped us optimize workflow and enhance client relationships.

The new makeup of our team better positions us to serve our clients across a variety of mediums and platforms and resolve their design challenges.

Engaging the design community

In 2016, we shared our expertise at several significant industry conferences and were fortunate to have our work recognized at the highest levels.

Formation members were active in the local AIGA portfolio review, hosted an AIGA Studio Tours + Small Talks session, and hosted an AIGA Design Loop event. Our team traveled to New York City for the A/D/O Design Academy Conference, “Utopia vs. Dystopia.” Last June, our team was awarded the SEGD Global Design Award in the category of Strategy, Research, and Planning for our research and assessment work at Texas Children’s Hospital.

Looking forward

Formation is proud to play a sustained leadership role in the development of the communities we serve. We continue to challenge ourselves in our design mission, professional leadership, and impact on our local communities by contributing our time and expertise.

Formation is positioned as a leading design office with meaningful solutions that enhance the human experience. These solutions are born out of a process that synthesizes data into unique creative responses. We aspire to design inclusive systems that improve outcomes.

Thank you for your consistent trust and support. The next 10 years hold our best work yet.

Formation is a design office located in Houston, Texas known for taking on large, multi-disciplinary projects. Formation has delivered thoughtful, award-winning, research-based design solutions for over ten years. Our clients in healthcare, hospitality, sports, administration, education, and the arts utilize our expertise to shape their cultures, define expectations, and create opportunities to connect with their audience.

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