Small space, Big ideas.

Meet the team »

Adler Design is a multidisciplinary studio that brings new ideas to market and works with both industry and nonprofit clients to design experiences, change behaviors and improve outcomes.

Motivated by a desire to make people’s lives easier and safer, AD delivers new directions in products, packaging, labeling, identity and information systems. They pioneer design solutions for clients such as Target, Johnson & Johnson, and Medline Industries, in addition to initiating and developing projects on their own.

Deborah Adler

Designer, entrepreneur & mother of two.

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“I would rather learn from one bird how to sing than to teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.” –E.E. Cummings.

Deborah Adler is a designer, entrepreneur and mother of two. Her work is guided by the belief that meaningful innovation requires a deep understanding of the people who will use what she creates and the changing world that surrounds them. Prior to launching her firm, Adler partnered with Target to develop the ClearRx prescription packaging system, which now makes it easier for millions of patients to take their medication. Since then, she’s taken on challenges that range from tackling the leading cause of hospital-acquired infections to re-imagining baby bottles as playful objects that connect with children. Always at the core of her work is the understanding that design can make a positive difference in people’s lives. She believes that empathy is the most important ingredient in great design and that a change in behavior is the most important outcome.

Adler worked closely with Milton Glaser for five years as his senior designer. She has been featured in New York Magazine, Glamour and NBC Nightly News, and CBS Sunday Morning. Her work is in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and has been shown at the Cooper Hewitt as part of the National Design Triennial and as a solo exhibition From Master’s Thesis to Medicine Cabinet. Adler received her Master of Fine Arts in Design from The School of Visual Arts in 2002. She currently serves on the AIGA National Board of Directors.

Curious about the studio? check out our Q&A.


Yayun Haung

Art Director/Designer

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“Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated.” —Paul Rand

Yayun first met Deborah Adler at Milton Glaser Inc in 2005. The two worked closely together for nearly 2 years before Adler decided to start a design studio of her own. In 2008, Yayun joined Adler Design, and though the team was small, they successfully made an impact in various fields of workfrom the medical world, to the fashion industry. Yayun especially enjoys the process of brainstorming various concepts to a problem prior to designing it, it brings her even greater joy when the design yielded has made a difference. Yayun received her MFA degree in Graphic Design from Savannah College of Art and Design. Additionally, she received an AOS degree with highest honors in the Illustration program from Pratt Institute, and was also a recipient of the Pratt Circle. In her spare time, she paints and makes crafts.

Defining moments in time

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Professor Doris Bergen

I took a class in Holocaust studies while getting my undergraduate degree at the University of Vermont. I doubt Doris would remember me now, but she has had a profound effect on my life. Growing up as a second generation Holocaust survivor, I would always hear stories around the dinner table or in the back of a car on a long drive. Doris gave me the understanding and historical context I needed. She taught me to bear witness to the events that took place and then learn from them. In that one semester I uncovered the meaning of empathy and it has been a thread in my work ever since.

Photo by: Michael Rajzman
Image courtesy: Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre

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Master’s design thesis at SVA

Several years ago, my grandmother mistook my grandfather’s medication for her own. Her name was Helen, and his was Herman. Aside from their first names and the dosage strength, the bottles looked identical. Luckily, the effects were minimal on my grandmother, but they have had a profound effect on me. At the time of the incident, I was getting my masters in Design at the School of Visual Arts, in New York City. I had to come up with an idea for my thesis, one that I could effectively and eventually bring to the market. This discovery became my SafeRX thesis project, which then in turn became a nationally available prescription system at Target. Working together, we refined my ideas and developed the ClearRx system. It was amazing to see how something that started as a school project has had the ability to impact such a change. Through this experience, I learned design has the power to make a difference.

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Working under Milton Glaser

I had the unique privilege of learning and working with Milton for five fulfilling years. My invaluable experience and growth as a designer under his influence has been the backbone of my career. I am forever grateful for his guidance, generosity and friendship. Most important, he has instilled the conviction that the chances of learning more never disappear.
Photo by: Timothy Hogan

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Discovering Yayun

I first met Yayun at Milton Glaser’s in 2005. I fell in love with her work while interviewing her for an internship there. We have been working together ever since. It’s so important to surround yourself with people you can learn from. Yayun is a talented designer from Taiwan, and I feel so incredibly fortunate to have her on my team. She is irreplaceable.



View Yayun’s corner

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Having kids

My ambition to do good work, run a successful studio and make positive change in this world is now matched by my deep and instinctive need to be a good mom. It’s the joy of everyday small moments that is so delightful to me, like when I am able to dash home for a lunch break with Jaden, run to pick up Sophia from school or work alongside them as they are busy bees at their own desks in my studio. They have also been a great source of inspiration and have widely influenced my design work, whether that work be a self initiated project like the redesign of baby bottles, doing work for Beginnings Nursery or designing mom&baby kits for health care systems–Sophia and Jaden are an additional lens through which I view the world.

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A chance to share

Deborah had the privilege to take the stage amongst nationally known innovators, story tellers, and international change makers at TedxRVA 2013, where she had a unique opportunity to share how little things can have a huge impact through the process of going right to the gemba. Full talk can be seen here.


Our approach

Go to the gemba

Gemba is Japanese and translates as “The Real Place,” where the work is done. For a Tokyo reporter, it might be the scene of a crime. For a company like Toyota, it’s the manufacturing floor where the cars are actually built. For a surgeon, it’s the operating room. There are gembas everywhere, the trick is to be there to see what happens. It’s in the gemba we discover what is missing and what needs changing.

Design for the person

We always think about the person that’s at the heart of our work. Every step along the way we put ourselves in a persons shoes. What would we do, if we were she? How would we feel? What would we need next?

Share with the world

Equally as important is the ability to share our ideas and inspire others. Whether it’s speaking of our design experiences, or improving a person’s life through our work, Adler design is always in a cycle of learning and sharing with others.


Medals, awards and honors

Design of the Decade: ClearRx Wins Gold
Industrial Society of America (IDSA) presents ClearRx with the winning Gold and title “Design of the Decade”

Deborah Adler joins the AIGA National Board of Directors

CNBC Target: Inside the Bullseye
ClearRx gets featured on the show.

Museum of Modern Art New York, permanent collection
Design Takes on Risk now in MOMA’s permanent collection

Clear Rx featured in “Women Of Design”
Inspirational design reference book by Bryony Gomez and Armin Vit

Q & A

With Deborah Adler

How do you manage to run a studio and be a mom to two children?

Here lies the challenge: My ambition to do good work, run a successful studio and make positive change in this world is matched by my deep and instinctive need to be a good mom to my two children. This is not a unique problem, yet it is one we have yet to solve, both in the design community and in…

Curious about the studio, Deborah or designing for a person?
Check out Deborah’s most asked questions