Trent Edwards, newly hired design director at Modern Climate, is working to incorporate design earlier in the strategic-planning process for clients of the Minneapolis-based brand and technology company.

Edwards said his goal is to help “elevate the aesthetic and the thinking” as Modern Climate undertakes several design-centric initiatives.

“They’re trying to do this very purposeful approach to the work to help clients solve some substantial business problems,” he said. “We’re looking to bring that design conversation in early and think about this not only from a business strategic-communication level but what’s that emotional hook, the thing that’s going to resonate with the consumer.”

The Vermont native arrived in the Twin Cities five years ago, drawn in part by what he said was “the quality of design work and thinking and advertising” in the market.

Edwards previously was design director at Riley Hayes Advertising and a designer at Colle McVoy.

Edwards has a fine-arts degree in graphic design from Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire.

He also has a master of fine arts in graphic design from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, a highly competitive program that he said admits only four students a year.

“That was a game-changing experience for me,” Edwards said. “In terms of establishing where I wanted to be, the work that I wanted to do and where I could be the most successful, that experience was critical.”

Q: Why is doing creative work in conjunction with client strategy important to you?

A: I have a creative mind-set that works in terms of solving problems as opposed to an artist mind-set. I don’t like doing things just for the sake of doing them. When that’s sort of all you’re doing then it starts to be more like shallow work and it’s more self-serving than it is serving the needs of our clients.


Q: How are you approaching your work as design director?

A: This role is as much about directing as it is being an inspiration in terms of this is what it looks like to put in the hours, to never be complacent with the work I’m doing. As we settle in things will normalize a bit but in this new period there’s some value to saying, “Let’s come in and kick some [butt.]”


Q: How do you define the role of a designer?

A: What we’re trying to do first and foremost is communicate and then the goal is to communicate artfully. When we’re not doing both of those things then we’re failing. It’s always thinking, always being self-critical and never settling for mediocrity. The combination of artfulness and communication is key.