Pono is a Chicago-based graphic design studio founded by Lauren Okura and Paul Maeda. Each with over 15 years of agency and in-house experience and working together since 2012, their love for creativity and desire to pay it forward drives them to create great work and inspires them to give back to organizations making a positive impact on the world.
Graphic Designer & Co-Founder
Lauren’s passion for art and design dates back as far as she can remember. With a long line of family in the arts, her love for creativity came naturally. Using her degree in Visual Communications, she has gone on to work for ad agencies, startups, and global brands.
Today, Lauren looks to use design for good. In 2019 she launched Designed Out Of Love, an initiative that supports child sexual abuse prevention by raising awareness and collecting donations for organizations fighting to protect kids. Lauren also volunteers as a designer and as a member of the Associate Board for Resilience, a Chicago-based anti-sexual violence organization.
Now, through Pono, she is thankful to have another way to give back through design and support the people, communities, and organizations who work towards positive change.
Graphic Designer & Co-Founder
Like many designers, Paul’s journey started as a child with a love for drawing. He became fascinated by combining images with type and went on to study Visual Communication at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he spent a semester abroad at Central St. Martins College of Art & Design in London.
After college, he moved to Gunma, Japan where he taught English at a junior high school. By designing his lessons and teaching materials, he was able to harness design to become a more effective teacher. He learned design can be a powerful tool in unexpected places, and for all people.
Paul has worked as a designer at small design studios to advertising agencies to global tech companies. He’s passionate about elevating positive missions through design.
Everyone can make the world a better place, whether it be something that affects an entire community or just one person.
We support those working towards positive change by donating our design services to non-profit organizations and initiatives that encapsulate an inclusive and diverse world where everyone is treated equally, with respect, and is able to feel safe and protected.Learn more
IT’S ORIGINS: Pono is a Hawaiian word and generally translates to “righteousness,” but it’s more than a word—it’s a way of life. To “live pono” is to live with balance and to consciously and morally do right by yourself, by others, and by the world. This is what the Pono Design Studio strives to live by every day, in every project.
OUR DEDICATION: Lauren and Paul each have family who came to Hawaii from Japan. With some of their closest relatives being Hawaiian born, they grew up to know life on the island from the stories they were told to the foods they ate to the language that was spoken. It is through this connection of family and experiences that they developed great love, respect, and appreciation for “The Aloha Spirit”.