Tag Archives: Oxide Design Co.

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January 19, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The open office space of Oxide Design Co. has all the hallmarks of being inhabited by creative types: LEGO designs are the first thing you see when you peek inside the design and branding firm’s broad, south-facing windows. Then you notice the knick-knacks, like a curiously large amount of Aquaman memorabilia, a pinball machine, and a phone booth.

When Drew Davies started Oxide in 2001, he jokes that he got an office for his one-man business at the request of his wife to move his tchotchkes out of the house. But, Davies had a vision and, motivated by his passion for design, his business grew.

The four other creatives Davies employs are also passionate about creating successful design. Developer Wes Piper recently wrote on their blog site, “Successful design must answer this one question: Is it useful?”

The office embodies this theory. A couple of walls, the fabric on sofas in the lobby, and their logo include a bright red color; specifically, it’s true red, known as Pantone 032 in the graphic design world.

“Red is our corporate color, because it’s bold and passionate and a little bit dangerous,” Davies says. “I think it also speaks to our belief in consistency as much as anything.”

That red also appears in nontraditional ways around the office, such as in bathroom towels and planters.

Today, the firm consists of Davies, two more designers, a creative coordinator, and a web developer. Each adds to the collection of tchotchkes by personalizing their desks with their own.

“I love this office because it allows all five members of the team the space to build the kind of place where they want to come to work each day.” Davies says.

This also adds to the whimsical, team-oriented feeling in the office.

“From the top to bottom, it’s not a terribly hierarchical place to work,” says Mandy Mowers, creative coordinator. “We’re all one team.”

The small team is intentional. Its size allows Davies to remain involved in the design process.

“All five of us are working on the projects that come in the door,” he says.

The workweek at Oxide differs from the typical creative firm, Davies says. Everyone comes in around 8:30 a.m. and leaves around 5:30 p.m., allowing time to do their own thing in the evening. It’s an intentional schedule Davies says helps the creative process.

“It’s very important to me that everyone has a good work-life balance,” Davies says.

Oxide Design has worked with start-ups, Fortune 500 companies, and all sizes in between. Some of Oxide’s projects have included rebranding Metro Transit and Baxter Auto Group, and helping develop the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s national ballot design standards. Oxide has created unique designs for each client.

“We try to push all of our clients right up to the line of comfort, so that their design stands out from the fray while being perfectly appropriate for them.”

The graphic design community has noticed. The firm’s work has been recognized by major design competitions, including The One Show, the CLIO Awards, and Communication Arts Design Annual.

Davies stays involved with the design community. He has served as president of the local chapter of American Institute of Graphic Arts, and is currently national president emeritus. More than 50 percent of his firm’s annual work is pro bono, in part or in full. The charitable work is a key measure to Davies on how successful the business is.

“If I wasn’t able to do that, I wouldn’t feel like I’ve been successful,” he says.

Jill Wells has worked with Oxide on a number of projects for different nonprofits, most recently for Niobrara Valley Preserve. The writer hired Oxide to design a brochure that she says was invaluable for telling the story of the place.

“I have worked with Oxide for about 17 years, first at Nebraska AIDS Project and then The Nature Conservancy. Oxide is an ideal partner,” says Wells. “They listen to what you care about and then create something so beautiful and compelling—it still surprises me every time…Oxide designers care deeply about their community and it shows in their creativity, passion, and professionalism.

Visit oxidedesign.com for more information.

This article was printed in the February/March 2018 edition of B2B.

Drew Davies

March 30, 2015 by
Photography by Scott Drickey

Originally published in March/April 2015 Omaha Magazine

Sometimes a business’s most successful seeds are sewn in grassroots.

At least, this is the approach that seems to have worked quite well for entrepreneur Drew Davies, who created the graphic design company Oxide Design Co. in 2001.

“Fair to say I have entrepreneurial blood in my veins,” Davies says with a laugh, referencing the legacy of business-owning passed down to him by his parents, who own Soul Desires Bookstore and Coffeeshop in the Old Market.

Davies says the “leap of faith” for starting a business on his own was maybe a bit easier for this reason. Although he worked for other smaller graphic design firms out of college, Davies’ passion for the field pushed him to explore other ways to forge a unique identity, this one uniquely his own.

“Graphic design is an interesting business,” he says. “It’s a lot about running a successful business, but also a lot about putting your heart and soul into a more creative endeavor. So there’s a certain drive to be in an environment where that’s fostered.”

And that drive extends far beyond his own business.

Dubbed by Davies as his “half and half approach,” over 50 percent of Oxide Design’s often award-winning projects are with nonprofit organizations like the Nebraska AIDS Project, the Federal Voter Assistance Program, and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, where all work is donated or discounted. The projects (“picking a favorite is like picking a favorite child,” Davies adds) range anywhere from customizing voting ballots to designing custom condom wrappers to raise AIDS awareness.

“Nonprofit is something I feel pretty strongly about,” Davies says. “I never started this business to get rich and famous. I wanted to be in charge of what I love doing, so it’s nice to have the ability to give back.”

We don’t know about his bank balance—and “famous” may be too strong a word—but Davies has garnered his share of prominence in the industry.

Davies was awarded the AIGA Fellow Award last November, an honor given to recognize designers who have made a significant impact for a cause or community. He’s also the only Nebraskan to have judged the Communication Arts (CA) Design Annual, a design competition dedicated to showcasing the world’s elite talents in the field. He has also served as national co-president of AIGA, the professional association for design, and was pegged as one of Graphic Design: USA magazine’s list of People to Watch in 2012.

And at the foundation of Davies’ passions? Omaha.

“I’m amazed almost every day at how creative the work is that comes out of this city,” he says, adding that Omaha’s reputation in design, as it is in so many endeavors, is perhaps a bit under the radar when viewed through the prism of a national perspective.

That’s quickly changing, though.

“It’s always been a pleasure being from a place that collectively produces such good work that it shatters people’s preconceived notions about what it means to produce from Omaha,” Davies says. “It makes me proud to be at the heart of this community and to show off this work and have people realize, ‘Wow, there’s something fabulous going on in that town.’”