Step On Deck


Our crew is bold, heartfelt, driven by passion, inspired by challenges, and committed to excellence. 


Design Helm's mission is to be your trusted navigator as you set sail on a unique voyage to affect positive economic, social, and environmental change. We are the steadfast wind in your sails. We will push you out of your comfort zone and chart a strategic coarse to reach your business goals.


Core Values

Think like business people.
Visualize like artists.
Communicate like poets. 

Since our success hinges on your bottom line, our first step is to listen, learn and align design strategy with your business goals. Next, we translate your company story into a magnetic visual package that stays true to the core of who you are. Finally, we craft brand experiences that sing, touch the heart, and help define and differentiate your unique voice among the static noise of today’s markets.

Seek and form long-lasting strategic partnerships with our clients.

Like any relationship, you get back what you put in, and we strive for authenticity and meaning in our world. We treat our clients like family. Collaboration is at the core of efficiency.

Critical thinking and analysis is the keystone of our design process.

Smart design strategy adds value and clarity not only to a brand, but to the organization’s core values and culture. A strong brand system and identity should define the heart and spirit of a business, give a solid, unified voice to the team, and provide an anchor of loyalty for both customers and staff alike.

Sustainability is a fundamental canon of our studio...

…and it means so much more than just carbon counting!  We understand how sustainability is a key driver of high-performance for forward-thinking organizations who want to survive and thrive in today’s developing global markets. We help our clients hone their sustainable practices to drive innovation and profitable growth, effectively communicate this to their audiences, and affect positive social and environmental impact.

We cultivate lateral
relationships in our studio. 

Individuals generate ideas; teams generate solutions. There is no creative chain of command: no art directors, no project designers, no minions. Instead, we share in a structured problem-solving approach, where all opinions and options are considered, researched, and analyzed. Cooperation trumps competition.

Design Philosophy:
We bow to the Bauhaus.

Form follows function. Less is more. Innovation springs from exploration. Great design should be accessible to the masses.

Work hard and with love in the heart.

We seek to attract, stimulate and retain exceptionally talented people who want to live, work and thrive in a consistent vibration of positive creative energy. 

Meet the Captain

I lead Design Helm to strategize, create, and implement dynamic brand experiences that are meaning-rich, authentically positioned, and visually magnetic.

Collaboration and Diversity Forged My Expertise

Throughout my career, I have collaborated with architects, interior designers, strategists, web developers, copywriters, CEOs and CMOs to deliver robust, multidimensional solutions across various touch points including corporate brand packages and communications, corporate exhibition and retail experiences, event planning and promotion, environmental graphics, packaging, point of sale, and advertising as well as web and brand guidelines.

My Background is Rooted in Architecture

I founded Design Helm in 2010 upon relocating to Los Angeles from Washington, D.C. where I worked for over a decade with award-winning and internationally published multidisciplinary architecture, interior, and graphic design firms (such as Envision Design / Perkins + Will) providing brand strategy and interior design solutions for sustainable commercial architectural projects, as well as graphic and exhibition design services.

I have consulted with a diverse group of corporations, small businesses, non-profits, cultural institutions, and independent professionals to take a seat at the planning table and craft authentic brand experiences, compelling stories, and design solutions for organizations such as:

  • U.S. Green Building Council,
  • City Center DC a Hines/ArchstoneSmith Development,
  • Population Services International,
  • Ecoimpact Consulting,
  • CENTER Beverly Hills,
  • Grab Green — Home Cleaning Products,
  • and Tego Electronics.

Professional Memberships + Accreditation

  • IIDA — International Interior Design Association
  • AIGA — American Institute of Graphic Arts 
  • LEED AP — Leadership in Energy + Environmental Design Accredited Professional

What's With the Name, Design Helm? 

I grew up in a small seaside village in Southeastern Connecticut. My first job was working as a concierge of sorts on the docks of a yacht club, immersed in the boating world. Many life lessons I gleaned from the nautical world: planning and preparation, diligence, confidence in my intuition, and a steadfast sense of adventure. I have an immense love for and connection to the water—it grounds me creatively and spiritually. My intention is to sail around the globe to the farthest extent possible, learning from cultures and individuals to earn a broad and faceted perspective, and an inclusive understanding of our world. 

Everyday I’m excited to go to my studio because I get to truly serve my clients with my talents. I help their businesses grow and ultimately improve their quality of life — this is what drives me onward and ignites my sense of purpose and adventure here on earth.
— Daniel Norman