Robin Avni has multi-disciplinary experience in graphic design, consumer research, communications, and design for emerging media. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Design at The Cornish College of the Arts. Her academic research focuses on visual communication, social photography, and the intersection of technical tools and creativity; her methodology includes a unique mix of design thinking, ethnographic research techniques, and content curation.
Over the course of her career in the newspaper, magazine, and high-tech industries, Avni has managed innovative, award-winning teams and projects and received numerous national design awards. She spent the beginning of her career in traditional media, including seven years at the Pulitzer prize-winning Philadelphia Inquirer, as a Photo Editor and subsequently was appointed Managing Design Director of the publication. At the Inquirer she was among a band of visual professionals who pushed the quality of design, layout and photojournalism. In 1988, Avni was chosen as the first Design Director to receive the prestigious post-graduate Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, an award that recognizes outstanding achievement in the field of journalism. Following her award-winning photo and design work in Philadelphia, she spent five years as the award-winning design director of Pacific Northwest Magazine of The Seattle Times.
In 1995, she was hired by Microsoft as a Design Manager working on such high-profile projects as the launch of MSN and MSNBC.com. Her eight years at Microsoft enabled her to catch the wave of a new era in design; one that would profoundly change the course of the design profession as new technologies changed methods of communication, content, and interaction design. Eventually, Avni became a Group Manager for Design and User Research for Windows and SQL Server. At Microsoft, she was a lead advocate for design within the product groups, helping to elevate the career path for designers by working cross-company with Design Managers, and Human Resources, to create and implement the first Design Career Ladders outlining a career path that included levels, skills, and compensation. She also created and produced the first, now annual, Design Day event highlighting design across all product disciplines.
After Microsoft, she transitioned to consumer research managing a portfolio of Fortune 500 clients as a Senior Director and Lead Consumer Strategist at Iconoculture, and as a Senior Ethnographer at The Hartman Group, where she engaged in primary consumer lifestyle research in including qualitative and ethnographic research.
Avni has served on national and local boards and commissions, including the Knight Curriculum Advisory Committee at the Indiana University School of Journalism, where she received her BA in journalism and design. Upon completion of her graduate degree she was appointed to the University of Washington Department of Communication adjunct faculty in the Communication Leadership graduate program. Robin has taught throughout her career beginning in Philadelphia with the NIE (Newspaper in the Classroom) program for inner-city grade-schoolers and the Seattle Times Urban Journalism Workshops, a two-week training program for minority high school students pursuing design and photography careers.