Pets In The Design Studio: Designing North Studios

Pets and Their Designers

From a cheerful Golden Retriever named Lily, to a more stoic Australian Bearded Dragon called Mokee-Djimba, The success of Designing North Studios is an extension of the good company we keep at work. Here in the studio we love pets and welcome them into our daily lives, no matter where that take us. This often results in lunch at the dog park but what better place to take a break than a dog park?

Morale, stress, productivity; these are all valid reasons for inviting a pet into the studio, but none are as important as the love we feel from their presence. It’s safe to say, the personalities and behaviors of our furry friends provide the perfect relief for long hours in front of the screen . And since our pets contribute to our daily success, we think it’s important to give them the proper introduction they deserve. When we say, “meet the team,” we want you to meet the ‘whole’ team. Without further ado, let us introduce some of the four-legged stars of Designing North Studios:

Golden Retriever

As the Managing Director of Designing North Studios, Lisa Peacock shares her workspace with a glowing-Golden Retriever named Lily. When asked, ‘Why do you enjoy working alongside your pets?’, Lisa made it clear that her day in the studio wouldn’t be complete without a dog: “She knows what I need, and never fails me. She always reminds me when it’s time to get up and take a break (paw on knee). But funny enough, she always waits until I’m off the phone.” Now that can’t be said for most coworkers.

Golden Retriever in the grass

Golden retriever

Australian Bearded Dragon

v:shal kanwar is a creative director at Designing North Studios who also shows creativity in his choice of pets. With the name Mokee-Djimba, it’s not just the appearance of his Australian Bearded Dragon that demands attention. And no matter how complex the design problems get, or how fickle a client can be, Mokee-Djimba never gets flustered. Additionally, they share a passion for a vegetarian diet. To our surprise, v:shal’s bearded dragon is quite the calming presence in the studio. In fact, he often spends the day just chillin on the shoulder of his owner while he works — scaly weaponry and all!

Australian Bearded Dragon

Black Labrador Retriever

Heading up content strategy at the studio is Dan Salcius. It’s been a dream of his to share his work day with his Labrador Retriever Gracie and cat Keystone — yes, he’s named after a beer commonly found on college campuses. His two furry friends keep him company day after day no matter the circumstances. But what he enjoys most is their ability to shed humor on any situation. They have a candid approach to reminding Dan that life doesn’t always need to be so serious — the world of content marketing needs more dogs and cats. He also appreciates their forceful nature when it’s time to go for a walk or roll around outside in the sun. They don’t take no for an answer.

Hiking with a black lab

House cat in the backyard

Traditional Persian Cat

Chris Mohler heads up many creative projects at Designing North, but she doesn’t do it alone. And as a gifted graphic designer she also happens to spend hours on end in front of the screen. Fortunately she has her cat Lucy to keep her company. Lucy is a Traditional Persian whose biggest contribution to the day is showing up for repeated coffee breaks — a true shoulder to lean on.



Grant Klein also leads the charge for creative projects at Designing North. He too has a trusty sidekick to share the day with, as long as that day doesn’t involve contact with anyone or anything. Unfortunately Grant’s Maltese-Poodle, Truman, hasn’t quite learned when is not an appropriate time to bark… queue the conference call. Although Truman can’t spend everyday in the studio, he is always thrilled to greet Grant at the door after a long day of solitude.

Maltese Poodle portrait

Black Labrador Retrievers

Julie Farrell is the Head of Marketing at Designing North Studios. She has spent many years working alongside her sister/brother duo of Black Labrador Retrievers Molly and Ranger. Not long ago, brother Ranger became ill due to old age and passed at the age of 13 — that’s 79 in dog years, according to the AVMA. Only days later, sister Molly passed from what’s best described as a broken heart. Although tragic, this bond proves that our pets are far more connected to the world than we give them credit for; affirmation that they could be the most loyal coworkers around.

Black lab on the couch

Black lab on the couch

Sir Dave Mason – The Cat

Straight from Designing North’s Head of Technology himself, Dave Mason is an excellent co-worker. “He says “hi” in the morning and get’s on with his own agenda during the course of the day (mostly sleeping). Occasionally he’ll wake up and stroll over to my monitor to assess the mouse activity. A moment of virtual small creature murder (the mouse) is usually enough to keep him satisfied, then he’ll wander over to one of the other computers and sleep on the warmest part, the keyboard. This cozy slumber has previously resulted in emails being sent to a client who questioned the prolific use of “ffffffffffffffffffff” in the message text. Sadly, unlike his namesake, Dave Mason does not play guitar. In fact he makes no noise at all, no meow, no purring, just a silent bump against the leg to demand attention, which can be somewhat unnerving when sat in a darkened office at night, only to feel an involuntary leg movement. He’s just cool.”

Dave Keeping my notes warm

We have learned that cats often spend the time required to think through complex problems. Just take these design thinking cats for example.

Pet’s lower stress levels at work. Enough said. Whether you agree with this or not, we’re sticking with it — Purina published their Pets at Work Report in June that supports our belief, and even went far enough to claim many other health benefits related to their presence: reduce blood pressure, decrease loneliness, help lower cholesterol levels and encourage physical activity. So next time you are at work while your four-legged fiend is at home think about how much healthier you could be, and pioneer a new pet policy at work.


Designing North Star Interview: Dan Salcius

This is the FIRST installment of our “Designing North Star Interview Series”, which means… stay tuned as uncover the character and personalities behind our creative masterminds.

As the youngest member of the Designing North team, Dan Salcius is designing north of average with a fresh take on content marketing. From creative writing to detailing a social media strategy, Dan is on the hunt to uncover new ways to show the world what it means to be ‘designing north’ that is, to go the extra mile and display effort that’s just north of expectations . From Dan’s perspective, The Designing North Star Interview Series is an interesting approach towards discovering what it means to give that extra effort. As he documents the coming interviews with the star power that drives DN, he will uncover their individual “it factors” and how they relate to the greater vision of DN. So let’s begin!

Designing North Star Interview: Dan Salcius

Designing North (DN): let’s start with you. What’s your “it factor” as it applies to Designing North?

Dan Salcius (DS): I am a purebred creative hustler, and this is a state-of-mind that I have been working on for many years. No matter what situation I find myself in I actively approach competition with creativity. Let’s face it, there are a hell of a lot of successful people in this world and I truly can’t compete with them all, in this one lifetime. That’s exactly why I choose creativity over competition.

I also live everyday with what I call, an ‘honesty filter’. Picture a physical paper mask covering your mouth and brain. These two individual filters prevent dishonesty from slipping through into the world. If I speak the honest truth and think in an honest nature, I am best suited to tackle the challenges in front of me with the honest actions that I want to define my personal being on this planet. On a similar note, by choosing honesty to best represent my personal brand, I can better attract the life changing relationships that I seek in a creative driven career. With honesty comes authenticity, and this is truly a gift that we can all tap into when trained accordingly.

Although I find fulfillment in a creativity focused lifestyle, I subsequently face risk on a regular basis. In it’s most simple state, creativity is risky. This I have learned, many times over and now embrace it. Through the challenging times, no matter how frequent they may be, I find great meaning in relying on others to survive. By relying on friends and family to overcome challenges, I am able to get back on my feet faster and do what I do best; HUSTLE. Setting goals that are just north of realistic, overcoming all obstacles, and facing insurmountable odds head on are all part of my daily mindset.

With all of this said, I can’t finish answering this question without sharing my appreciation for the term K.I.S.S. (Keep-It-Simple-Stupid). And what I mean by this is to physically let all of the small things in life go. I genuinely try NOT to overcomplicate my relationships, work, goals or any aspect of life whatsoever. Simplicity wins every time!

With this approach to life, I am innovating and differentiating faster than ever before. I am simply doing more good than I ever thought possible and therefore I am designing north.

UX designer article with Andy Budd

(DN): you mentioned innovating and differentiating. How does this relate to your focus on content marketing?

(DS): content strategy is all about creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to the right audience at the right time. Especially within the digital design world, relevancy and consistency is an ongoing challenge. I participate in daily exercises that channel my creativity and assist me in discovering what’s new, and what’s trending. I am always in the pursuit of adding value for any views of my content. Having a macro perspective on the industry is highly valuable when developing a strategy for any one brand. Once this vision is in place, I can innovate on the distribution process and introduce new methods for sharing the content that has been identified as “worthy”. When looking at social media or even inbound content, there is more noise than ever before. This is where my individual creativity comes into play; I try and make every finished piece of work unique and authentic to DN.

(DN): what excites you most about joining Designing North?

DS: for me it’s about being an integral part of a dynamic and highly capable team that collaborates to conquer seemingly insurmountable challenges presented by the act of designing a solution. I believe that there’s more to be experienced in a career than a static work schedule and a paycheck; Designing North embodies these similar beliefs. Here’s a quick read that elaborates on this not to uncommon millennial mindset of mine.

Further more, I have always wanted more control of my work even if it meant tightening the nuts and bolts on a project being piloted by another designer. From day one I have noticed that nothing is taken for granted at DN and everyone has a voice that is heard. That is saying a lot with the incredible talent that walks through these virtual doors.

(DN): what are you working on now and what can we look forward to in the coming months?

DS: I am currently building a project with a hands on approach to defining what it means to be designing north. Designing North is a network of highly experienced professionals that all have their very own “ it factor” to bring to the studio. And it would be great if others outside of our studio could understand what this means. From creative directors to UX designers and even screen writers, the DN community has some impressive stories to tell. With that said, I am working on a project that not only highlights the stars that make DN so unique but I will also uncover their individuality and unique mindsets that bring about positive change to us all. On both a personal and professional level, this project will reveal the seemingly hidden meaning behind the words designing north. In a way we will be transforming an intangible mindset into a tangible portfolio of individuals for everyone to relate to.  After all, when a company approaches DN with a digital design need they are getting much more than just a portfolio of past work and accomplishments and a targeted strategy, they are receiving a hand-picked team that wakes up every single morning with the mindset fixated on designing north.

Snorkeling in Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach free dive, 2016

(DN): what is your biggest quarrel with technology?

DS: I am still dealing with the loss of my third GoPro camera so this is a bit of a fresh topic. For a product that is intended to be submerged in water I seem to find every method possible for breaking these devices when using them around water. I just don’t see a world where electronics and water can co-exist in peace and harmony, especially within the consumer market. Whether it’s a phone or a GoPro, I have come to rely on these electronic tools that are designed to perform within a wet environment only to be let down more often than not.”

Designing North Star Dan Salcius

Dan Salcius, Dana Point, CA

DN: what is one thing that you absolutely couldn’t live without?

DS: getting back to my childhood, I developed a strong connection with the ocean. I make it a point to surf at least once a week but wish I could do it daily. On a personal level, the ocean is my escape from daily life and it serves as my creative reset button. Every time I paddle out I am placing an invisible border between all of my problems and my mind. Through understanding the ocean’s power and immense size it has a unique way of humbling me as a tiny human on this great big earth. If you ever want to set yourself free of all your stress and mental burden, try surfing or diving at least once. It will amaze you.

Daniel Salcius Photo, Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach Sunset, 2016

Grand Hyatt Kauai by Dan Salcius

Grand Hyatt Kauai, 2016

DN: are there any skills that you are currently focusing on to enhance your work?

DS: absolutely! There is always a new skill to learn in the content world and I don’t think I will ever see a day where I don’t have an ambition to learn more. I spend a great deal of time behind the monitor working with content management systems and content creation programs. I have always enjoyed photography and want to master the art of lighting and composition. The content creation part of my job is probably the most exciting aspect of my craft and I would like to introduce more photography into my weekly routine. I recently switched from Canon over to Fuji and look forward to perfecting my craft with the new XT-2.

DN: last but most certainly not least, what does tomorrow hold for you?

DS: truthfully, I already feel inspired here at DN and plan on growing with the team with every new project. There is a steady buzz in the air and new projects are developing at a rapid pace. I want to be a part of these while putting DN on the map for content expertise. Other than focusing on action items that will allow me to collaboratively influence and continue to grow, I’m not sure that I want to know exactly what tomorrow will hold. What would be the fun in that?

DN: Designing North is a design studio on a mission to find, celebrate, and collaborate with those who are *designing north* in their everyday lives. When we find them – we like to call them Designing North Stars. Stay tuned as we reveal the stars that make this all possible and dive deeper into their universe.

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