On the Left Coast, Mick Hodgson Bets on Sunshine

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Mick Hodgson’s Broad Horizon: A Better, Broader View in 2010

Designer, teacher, author, fishetarian, cycling enthusiast Mick Hodgson leads Ph.D, a Santa Monica-based design office serving an “enlightened roster of clients with visual acuity, crisp thinking and penetrating wit.” Ah, wit. Mick has that in spades. Having worked with Mick on a recent book project, this writer can attest to his kindness, intelligence and wit. He is the kind of guy you’d like to sit next to on a long plane ride overseas. Born and raised in London, Michael’s wit is perhaps genetic, but it also has been well developed through a lifetime of intellectual adventure.

Mick Hodgson

We caught up with Mick a few days ago to ask him what his hopes are for the coming year. As for many of us, 2009 was for Hodgson a year of hanging in and hanging tough. But he has an optimistic outlook for 2010.

“The economy will hopefully pick up – people are trying to be optimistic. You have to be.  The past year was so difficult that it begs us to look for positive lessons from it. One good thing about a year of belt-tightening and deprivation is that, perhaps, it has finally shocked our society out of the frame of mind that we can have it all and we can have it on demand. The kind of decadence and values that so many exhibited helped get our society in trouble and this must change. I certainly hope that when the good times return, we don’t return to the same old waste and spending – shopping as a show patriotism, accumulation of material things as a show of success.”

Hodgson, who has a new book coming out this fall from Rockport Publishing entitled Recycling & Redesigning Logos, has made it his New Year’s resolution to live better and healthier—spending more time with his family, pursuing physical and intellectual exercises that expand his mind and potential. One of his greatest pleasures is pedaling through the beautiful scenery of the Santa Monica Mountains running down to the Pacific right outside his front door.


“I hope to ride the mountain bike more this year,” says Mick. In fact, I rode to work on Christmas Eve through Topanga State Park and along the ridge of the Santa Monica Mountains (Dirt Mulholland as it’s called). I am also planning on more yoga and more reading of printed books this year. My wife Gill is an amazing cook, but she said she didn’t want to cook Christmas dinner so the kids and I helped and cooked. So I decided I am going to do that more, too. It’s back to the kitchen!”

Mick is President Emeritus of AIGA Los Angeles and serves on the advisory board of the AIGA Center for Sustainable Design, which has been instrumental in recruiting over 100,000 design firms (and counting) to sign the Designers Accord, a Kyoto treaty for responsible design. In 2007 he was named an AIGA Fellow, the highest honor awarded by AIGA chapters. Mick and Gill have three beautiful daughters: Lily, Maudie Rae, and Lucie. He always, always makes time for tea.

A Few Questions

Against the Grain
What do you love most about your work today?

Mick Hodgson
Recently we have been working on some great architectural projects with Joe Coriaty at Frederick Fisher and Partners, Craig Webb at Gehry Partners, and Michael Maltzan. I love “building” type and working with the 3rd dimension that this work gives us. Making things! Of course I’m still comletely in love with the printed page, especially books.

Against the Grain
Where do you find your greatest peace today?

Mick Hodgson
At home or riding with my good friends and bike buddies Mike Powell, Mike Dimkich, Marcus, Tony and Sarah: the Old Topanga Gang.

Against the Grain
Where do you find your greatest inspiration?

Mick Hodgson
Paul Smith, the English fashion designer, entitled his book “You can find inspiration in anything,” and I think that’s so true. I get ideas when I’m driving home at the day’s end, or after my weekly ocean swim, (which always gets me in the best, best mood). Music, films, an old paper bag, a wonderful lunch at Café Zuni—all have led to great ideas. I remember seeing Ellsworth Kelly’s “Stele I” while visiting the new SFMOMA roof garden for the first time with a good friend. It immediately gave me an idea for a monument sign I had previously been struggling with.

  1. 01
    David Young said:

    Great interview – I love Mick’s perspective on design. Especially his reference to the Paul Smith book “You can find inspiration in anything.” So true – and so important, too! A reminding inspiration as we move into the new year. Thanks!

  2. 01
    Tom said:

    One of the greatest, most careing, and giving guys on the planet. Would love to see a couple of samples of his most recent 2 and 3D work. Always wanted to mountain bike with him but know he is in a completely different league!

  3. 01
    Mick Hodgson said:

    Tom, I’m putting you down for a ride January 28th! We’re in the same league, you set the pace. Let me know.


  4. 01
    rule29 said:

    I want to go, too!

  5. 01
    Mick Hodgson said:

    rule 29 you’re welcome. meeting at my office 1524a Cloverfield Blvd. 7.30 am. tomorrow Jan 28. planning to show Tom Sullivan Canyon! all are welcome,