We are a small, dedicated team
We have a vast, closely knit network developed through decades of collaborating on creative projects for brands and causes.
We were founded in Portland, Oregon in 1991, where we are still based. We now also have a full time presence in Central Oregon.
Specific design services are detailed over here. You can read more about our approach to problem solving here or the history of Plazm in the context of a nascent creative scene circa Portland, Oregon 1991. Bios for our core team can be found here, and various awards and publications are here.
Plazm’s collaborators bring an uncommon breadth of narrative experience to client projects, thanks to our decades of work as publishers, visual artists, editors, filmmakers, writers, and community builders.
Our Principals’ Principles:
Design is problem solving in a beautiful way.
We are enmeshed in aesthetics and often make beautiful things. But a surface-level approach to design would produce shallow solutions that don’t serve clients’ long-term interests. The beauty in Plazm’s design work arises from our commitment to a deeper understanding of strategic and branding concerns.
Stories connect people and enrich lives.
Every brand has a story to tell. Engaging with that story can be exhilarating, surprising, informative; it can put a smile on people’s faces or challenge them with tough questions. Plazm principals Josh and Niko bring an uncommon breadth of experience to creating narratives and helping others shape their own stories. In addition to their decades of client work, they have been recognized for their work in publishing and the fine arts, as curators, editors, educators, and artists. Our other collaborators bring a wealth of specialized knowledge and creative experience to the table.
Truth is the most powerful force in marketing.
Not snake oil. Not “innovation.” Not a few weeks’ worth of good social media metrics. Truth. The true core of a company is built on its people, products, services, and the impact it has on the world. Many businesses lose sight of their values during times of growth or transition. Their communications become less compelling, more fragmented, sometimes even desperate as they try to navigate their new phase. We have experience helping people and organizations center on their truth and communicate it with confidence and clarity.
What we do matters.
Every day, every person alive makes hundreds of decisions about how to invest their time, energy, and passion. We believe the work we do—and the work our clients do—can benefit our planet and the beings who live on it. Together with our clients, we make meaningful messages, pursue excellence in creative work, and embrace environmentally sustainable production practices.
The History of Plazm
Plazm is a creative studio founded in Portland, Ore., in 1991 with the launch of Plazm magazine. Together with our clients, we solve problems, tell stories, and seek out truth. Pictured above, 20 year retrospective exhibit at The Archer Gallery.
Plazm magazine started as a cooperatively published, not-for-profit periodical that sparked a nascent creative community in early 1990s Portland. As the magazine garnered accolades and awards, it spawned a commercial design and branding firm whose clients have included Nike, LucasFilm, and MTV, along with local businesses and nonprofits such as PICA, the Northwest Film Center, and Fort George Brewery.
Plazm Design co-founder Niko Courtelis moved back to Portland from New York City a few years ago. He and Joshua Berger have relaunched the studio with some of their long-term collaborators in fields such as font design, editorial content, and public policy. Niko and Josh launched The Portland Stamp Company in 2016. Plazm magazine is now published by PICA (Portland Institute for Contemporary Art) a 501c3 nonprofit, under Josh’s leadership as founding Art Director.
In 2019 Plazm was nominated for the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award.
Pictured above, Factsheet 5 review of Plazm magazine, 1994.
View a list of Plazm awards, symposia, links to various recorded talks, and publications here.
To schedule an interview or inquire about booking Joshua Berger or Niko Courtelis as a speaker or for a workshop, please send us a note using our contact form.
We believe the work we do—and the work our clients do—can benefit our planet and the beings who live on it.
Together with our clients, we make meaningful messages, pursue excellence in creative work, and embrace environmentally sustainable production practices. A partial list appears below. Links lead to client sites we’ve designed & case studies.
• Nike — Sport, Apparel
• Blue Note Records — Entertainment
• Pacific Northwest College of Art — Education, Nonprofit
• Fort George Brewery — Food & Beverage
• Columbia Tri Star — Entertainment
• Wieden + Kennedy — Advertising
• Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls — Education, Public Service
• Powell’s Books — Entertainment
• Uniqlo — Apparel
• Carman Ranch — Food & Beverage
• Cooley Gallery at Reed College — Arts, Education
• Lucasfilm — Entertainment
• Intel — Consumer Electronics
• Jantzen Swimwear — Sport
• Thomason Autogroup — Automotive
• Adobe — Software
• Red Bull Theater — Entertainment, Nonprofit
• Rockport Books — Publishing
• Figaro’s Pizza — Food & Beverage
• MTV — Entertainment
• Northwest Film Center — Entertainment, Nonprofit
• TriMet — Public Service
• Soleilmoon Recordings — Entertainment
• Wacom — Consumer Electronics
• Portland Center Stage — Entertainment, Nonprofit
• Opsis — Architecture
• TBWA / Chiat Day — Advertising
• Burgerville — Food & Beverage
• Sarah Bellum’s Bakery & Workshop — Food & Beverage, Nonprofit
• Capitol Records — Entertainment
• Ecotrust — Environment, Nonprofit
• KMHD 89.1 — Entertainment, Nonprofit
• LAIKA — Entertainment
• Starbucks — Food & Beverage
• Pearl + — Beauty, Health & Wellness
• Ridley Scott Associates — Entertainment
• Robert Ball Companies — Real Estate, Development
• Bittermann Photography — Arts, Architecture
• ESPN — Entertainment
• Portland Institute for Contemporary Art — Arts, Nonprofit
• Sony Pictures — Entertainment
• Pizza Schmizza — Food & Beverage
• Pearl Real Estate — Development, Real Estate
• Studioriley — Strategy, Communications
• The Museum of Sex — Arts, Entertainment
• Newsweek — Publishing
• Nickelodeon — Entertainment
• Melcher Media — Publishing, Entertainment
• Strange & Wonderful — Advertising, Communications
• EMI Records — Entertainment