If you can’t get attention, you can’t even start the conversation.


For over ten years, Polemic has empowered clients with tools to get attention, and then leverage that attention to change their part of the world for the better. We work with you to help you understand your distinct voice in the world, and then craft the most ideal stage for you to share that voice.

How? We immerse ourselves in your culture, your needs, your landscape, and create dynamic ways to get your voice heard. There is no script. There are no rules. Our cross-disciplinary approach allows us to approach your needs holistically, addressing digital, social, psychological, and practical issues; we create content-driven solutions that emphasize strategic communication over trends, styles and aesthetics.

Our results are palpable. We generate effective campaigns that move the needle in quantifiable ways for our clients. We get them attention. If you can’t get attention, you can’t even start the conversation.

Who? We work with people we like, the people we want to have a dinner with, the people we believe are making a positive impact on the world. We've created award-winning campaigns for some of the world's most respected brands, and we've created smart, dynamic work for independent artists, restaurateurs,

What? Polemic has designed corporate identities, commercial interiors, books, annual reports, packaging, and wayfinding signage for Fortune 500 companies, not-for-profits, confident start-ups, restaurateurs, toy designers, photographers, poets, and musicians.


Matthew McNerney, Principal

Matthew is a creative director, experience designer, and brand strategist who develops immersive environments which foster learning through play, storytelling, and community engagement. He has developed brand experiences, retail environments, marketing campaigns, websites and linear media focused on transforming institutions’ casual visitors into passionate ambassadors.

Approach and Philosophy
Matthew brings a voracious curiosity to all of his designs. Passion for subjects as broad as neuroscience, semiotics, orchids, the Blues, ceramics, theatre, theology, and aerial arts (trapeze) inform his approach.

His projects are rooted in a deep respect for content. Rather than a set of aesthetic choices—color, materials, typefaces—Matthew looks at projects from a holistic view: How do staff members greet visitors? What’s the guest’s experience after their visit? How can seasonal programming change or preserve an institution’s voice? Honoring these nuances results in strategic solutions that are site- and client-specific.

In addition, Matthew cannot separate his commitment to community-building from his projects; with fewer and fewer forums and third spaces in the world, it is important for him to develop warm, inviting spaces for people to reflect and discover together. This commitment informs how his designs are approachable for diverse groups: families, millennials, scholars, and tourists; everyone is able to find their own private story within a larger public experience.

Mr. McNerney's clients have included LEGO, Alicia Key’s Keep a Child Alive Charity, Unilever, Standard & Poor’s, Partnership for a Drug-Free America, Scion, Princeton University, and Lenox Hill Hospital. He developed their corporate identities, advertising campaigns, interiors, annual reports, packaging, and way-finding signage.

Prior to founding Polemic, Matthew was an experience designer for Ralph Appelbaum Associates. His work included the art direction of the New York Football Giants Legacy Club (Meadowlands, NJ), and the experience design of the NASCAR Hall of Fame (Charlotte, NC), where visitors are able to follow the complete journey of building a race car from its construction to its final championship competition. He also art directed the Museum of Jewish History and Tolerance (Moscow, Russia), the country's first museum documenting the 500+ year history of the Jewish people in Russia. For the Newseum (Washington, DC), Matthew developed a nimble design infrastructure which permitted the museum’s content to change as quickly as the news itself. For the William J. Clinton Presidential Library (Little Rock, Arkansas), Matthew developed the graphics for the Library’s permanent exhibits, documenting the eight years of unprecedented growth and prosperity for the United States of America.

He has been published in Logo Lounge, where his work received the Critic’s Choice; Logo a Lot, by BNN Publishers, and the book Guide to Graphic Design by Scott Santoro (Pearson, 2013). He has been a frequent guest lecturer at Pratt Institute (his alma mater), at Seton Hall University, and at the International Interior Design Association, and a juror for FIT's Exhibition Design Masters program.