Prepare to Design the Future
March 19–20, 2017: Training
March 20–22, 2017: Tutorials & Conference
San Francisco, CA

Seeing government: A digital-savvy facelift for the City of Oakland

Lizzie Kumaria (Objective Subject), David Jalbert-Gagnier (Objective Subject)
4:25pm–5:05pm Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Bridging design, technology, and business
Location: California East
Level: Intermediate
Average rating: ****.
(4.00, 5 ratings)

Who is this presentation for?

  • Public sector and political decision makers (strategy, tech, and design), communications directors, community engagement leads, visual designers, civic designers, and civic tech entrepreneurs

What you'll learn

  • Understand how to identify gaps in public sector visual communications
  • Learn what’s needed to bridge the gap and a framework for assessing what works in this context
  • Explore best practices for government communication around the world


More often than not, we don’t understand the role government plays in our lives. Better public sector communication, starting with what we see government doing, reconnects government and citizen.

Oakland is a diverse and evolving community at a crossroads. Lizzie Kumaria and David Jalbert-Gagnier share a digital project—as part of a Code for America website redesign, they created a new visual identity system (logo, color palette, typeface, layout principles, and graphic language) for the Oakland city government—which kickstarted a wider update of the City of Oakland’s communication materials.

Showcasing the principle of “evolution, not revolution,” which is so crucial in public sector design, Lizzie and David explain how their team recognized the gaps in government communications and designed, tested, and implemented a unique but simple solution. They also discuss four tests for better public sector visual identities—quality, clarity, consistency, and community—and examples of success in other places.

Photo of Lizzie Kumaria

Lizzie Kumaria

Objective Subject

Lizzie Kumaria is the director of strategy and engagement at Objective Subject, where she leads the company’s strategy to bring the benefits of good design to the public sector. Lizzie has extensive experience developing policy in the UK government, from building a high-speed railroad, reforming justice in the Secretary of State’s office, and updating the UK constitution to creating an economic and transportation strategy for England’s northern cities. Lizzie studied politics and modern history at the University of Manchester, UK, and cities and urban development at New York University. Lizzie is originally from an obscure part of the West of England. Since arriving in New York after several years in London, she has been exploring the city on foot and by bike.

Photo of David Jalbert-Gagnier

David Jalbert-Gagnier

Objective Subject

David Jalbert-Gagnier is the principal and founder of Objective Subject, where he leads the design and strategy efforts and guides the firm’s clients to solutions inspired by rational thinking and realized with energized creative direction. A native of Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec, Canada, David holds a diplôme d’études collégiales in graphic design from Dawson College in Montréal. After studying philosophy, David was lured back to design by Landor Associates to design packaging and corporate identity programs for international clients. He then worked at Frankfurt, Germany’s Hauser Lacour agency before making his way back to the United States, where he splits his time between Brooklyn, New York, and Oakland, California. He is an occasional rugby player, a sport of which Wolfgang, his 8-year-old terrier, only mildly approves.