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NOW: Digital Mural

Now is a collection of interactive prototypes designed to provide the AIGA San Francisco design community with unique platforms for participation and engagement. Community members will be invited to participate in and contribute to prototype projects through this new AIGA SF initiative in the future.

The first Now project, Digital Mural, is debuting at the 2015 SFDW opening reception. We interviewed MetaDesign and Substantial, two San Francisco design and product studios who collaborated on the Digital Mural.

How did your studio become involved in the Now project? What is your studio’s contribution?


MetaDesign: We have always wanted to contribute to SFDW. It’s an event that we’ve all participated in individually, but wanted to create something as a studio. Our former creative director, Stan Zienka, joined the fundraising board last year and helped facilitate our involvement.

We wanted to re-envision what a fundraiser for AIGA could be; to bring it into the moment and integrat[e] the larger world we live in here in the Bay Area. We conceptualized the idea of the digital moment, created the name and identity, designed and coded the Now website. Also, in collaboration with Substantial, we created the Now Digital Mural project to explore ways [SFDW and AIGA SF supporters can] creatively donate to AIGA SF during the events.

Substantial: AIGA SF reached out to Substantial about helping create one of AIGA SF’s first digital and interactive experience for SF Design Week. Since Substantial is a digital product studio, and only recently started a San Francisco office, we knew this would be a great opportunity for us to make our first contribution to SFDW.


Pick either 5 words that encompass your ideas/thoughts/feelings about the Digital Mural project or the Now initiative:

MetaDesign: Collaborative, Accessible, Playful, Interactive, Experimental.

Substantial: Hypnotizing, Fun, Simple, Playful, Dynamic.

Can you talk to us about some of the design thinking behind the Now brand?

MetaDesign: Now is meant to encapsulate the nuances in a single moment of digital time; to explore the idea that ‘now,’ can be perceived in many different ways. Everyone at MetaDesign interpreted this in their own unique way, brought all of our ideas together, and combined them to create Now.

The Digital Mural experience will be debuting at the SFDW opening reception; is it scary (or exciting) to be presenting a project like this to a room full of creatives/designers?  

Substantial: We definitely kept this in mind as we refined and built the experience! We decided to take an extreme approach and make the Digital Mural as simple of an experience as possible—basically making an 8-bit-esque, blank digital canvas for the SFDW attendees to express their creativity on.

In your opinion, what has been/is the biggest value of volunteering your time (design work) for AIGA SF?

MetaDesign: Our goal was to create something that could extend and involve the community at large. All the MetaDesigners and writers were able to contribute to the NOW project, working on something outside of the usual project constraints, budgets, and timelines was very satisfying and rewarding.

Substantial: This utterly trite, but it was an honor to work with some of the most talented creatives in the area—including AIGA SF board members, volunteers, and Meta Design—and build something that will hopefully bring delight to Design Week attendees.

Is there a SFDW event that you are looking forward to most?

MetaDesign: We are really excited about the House hand lettering workshop (and the SFDW opening night of course).

Substantial: So many! Too many! Here’s a sample of ones we’d like to check out:

Shopping Innovation & Internet of Things @GeneralAssembly

The Future of Work @Zendesk

Portfolio Review @8inc

FashTech San Francisco @Macy’s Fashion INcuabtor

5×5 – Napkin Stories @DesignMap

Designing for the Workspace @Sherwood Gallery

Make sure to follow @substantial and @MetaDesignSF and stay tuned to @AIGASF for updates on the future Now projects.

Substantial is a full-service design and development studio with offices in San Francisco and Seattle. We make world-class technology experiences, from web and mobile apps to large-scale interactive products. View our work:

MetaDesign is an award-winning agency and global leader in brand strategy, emotive design and powerful storytelling with offices in San Francisco, Beijing, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Genève and Zürich. View their work:

AIGA SF is the San Francisco chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design that represents over 1,600 designers in graphics, interaction, experience, motion, and affiliated fields in the Greater Bay Area.

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