Awair Design Spotlight: Maher Sinjary

As the second installment of our Awair Design Spotlight, we interviewed our San Francisco-based Principle Designer, Maher Sinjary, to learn more about his unique design journey and the methodology behind Awair's visual identity.

His Design Journey:

For Maher, being a designer is a perspective as much as it is a profession. “Everything I encounter — a hat, a sign, a building — I see the design decisions that went into it and I analyze each component.” If you spend even a couple minutes with him, you’ll understand how genuine this admission is. He has an infectious type of passion which he brings to everything he touches, no matter the size of the project. 

“I just love solving problems. I’m always trying to figure out how to make something work better and how to solve new challenges.”

Growing up in Kurdistan, Iraq, Maher was accustomed to intricate, Persian-influenced design and bright colors, but he gravitated toward the simple and minimalistic. He tracks his design journey back to fifth grade, when he first started learning English in school. “As soon as I saw english letters, I became so fascinated with the language and everything that goes with it.” Looking back, he feels fortunate that his father was so committed to helping him broaden his horizons. In the late 90s, he got his first computer with internet access, and the rest, as he explains it, is history.

In 1999, Maher attended Duhok Fine Arts Institute, a five-year high school program focused on drawing, painting, illustration and printmaking design, and later went on to earn his BFA in Fine Arts (no graphic design programs existed in Kurdistan at the time) from Salahaddin University in Erbil. All the while, he continued to pursue graphic design as a “labor of love,” using the internet to source logo design projects and completing them free of charge. With every new project, he relished the opportunity to collaborate with different cultures, gain valuable experience, and build exposure.

After working at one of the biggest advertising agencies in Iraq and leading their design team for five years, Maher eventually launched his own design business. He spent the next several years working in a variety of industries and attempting to introduce Middle Eastern clients to American and European styles of design.

Growing up in Kurdistan, Iraq, Maher was accustomed to intricate, Persian-influenced design and bright colors, but he gravitated toward the simple and minimalistic. He tracks his design journey back to fifth grade, when he first started learning English in school. “As soon as I saw english letters, I became so fascinated with the language and everything that goes with it.” Looking back, he feels fortunate that his father was so committed to helping him broaden his horizons. In the late 90s, he got his first computer with internet access, and the rest, as he explains it, is history.

In 1999, Maher attended Duhok Fine Arts Institute, a five-year high school program focused on drawing, painting, illustration and printmaking design, and later went on to earn his BFA in Fine Arts (no graphic design programs existed in Kurdistan at the time) from Salahaddin University in Erbil. All the while, he continued to pursue graphic design as a “labor of love,” using the internet to source logo design projects and completing them free of charge. With every new project, he relished the opportunity to collaborate with different cultures, gain valuable experience, and build exposure.

After working at one of the biggest advertising agencies in Iraq and leading their design team for five years, Maher eventually launched his own design business. He spent the next several years working in a variety of industries and attempting to introduce Middle Eastern clients to American and European styles of design.

“The great thing about design is that you can work in any industry. Even if you go into it knowing nothing about the field, you can learn through design.”

His Awair Story:

“Whenever I look for a job, there are two contradictory things I look for. I look to see if the company has good ‘cells,’ but has lots of room to grow their brand image. Or I look for the opposite — a company that has a clean and successful visual identity, but needs someone to help them take things to the next level.” With Awair, he says, the second option rang true. He was drawn to the simplistic and clean design of the product and website, and welcomed the challenge of elevating the brand further.

Today, Maher champions Awair’s brand, marketing, and website design — working on everything from web pages to email templates, print collateral, photoshoots, social ads, animation, product videos, and much more. Since he started at Awair in 2017, his greatest triumph has been helping to hone our brand identity and ensure that our brand image is consistent and resonant across every touchpoint. 

Every design meeting, Maher says, he circles back to Awair’s foundational design credo (of being bold, simple, contextual, clean, timeless, sophisticated, and intuitive), and the notion of making the invisible (air), visible. In every new challenge, he looks for ways to create more harmony between Awair’s words, principles, and images.

Above all else, his experience has taught him that you need to keep an open mind in order to continue to evolve in the right direction.

"Even when I make something I'm confident in, I always ask my peers what I can do to make it better. When you ask for feedback, that's when people have the opportunity to be most honest — and it helps me get outside my own head and see things in a new light."

Both Maher and Bosung (Awair's Chief Design Officer) use each other as sounding boards and collaborate closely with the accomplished UX and UI designers in the Seoul office, Daehyeong Moon (Principle Designer) and Jungjin Lee (UX Designer). The fact that all of Awair's designers are able to work together so closely and apply the same core principles to different tasks is part of the magic behind Awair's design.

In his spare time, Maher channels his unwavering enthusiasm and patience into teaching a User Interface (UI) design course at the University of California at Berkeley Extension in San Francisco.

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