The past two years have given us plenty to be grateful for.
We’ve revamped and streamlined our creative process to make remote work, work amazingly well. Our team has grown, a few of us have moved across the country (and back), and we’ve even managed to find new friends and collaborators along the way.
Best of all, we’ve been fortunate to partner with incredible clients on so many meaningful projects.
But we still miss the human connection of grabbing coffee or a meal, and getting to know each other better. We make up for it by filling our Slack channels with all the activities and ideas that have helped us through the toughest times and given us the most joy.
Here are a few of the things that made our 2021 a little sweeter!
At the beginning of the pandemic, I started sketching on paper to take a break from the screen and I’ve been drawing almost every day since. It’s been a joy to rediscover old skills and find new ways of making. Recently, we all got a subscription to Sketchbox, a monthly delivery of art supplies, and have weekly meetups when we experiment with new tools and techniques, or play a remote improv game for designers.
I’ve logged many weekend hours playing Stardew Valley with my kids (and, yeah, by myself too). The wholesome video game’s pixelated isometric landscapes harken to an earlier digital era, but it’s more sophisticated than it first seems. The story presciently acknowledges our anxiety about the modern world while providing a cozy respite for coping with grief and loneliness.
The past year has shown us how powerful creativity can be — both for imagining large-scale change and for keeping ourselves on an even keel. Access to art and design is a privilege, but local organization DownCity Design offers youth design programs to kids of all financial backgrounds. We’re proud to be a corporate sponsor and hope you will also consider donating to support their work if you have the means.
2021 for me was about breaking away from convention. I experimented with rearranging my office in a way that would suit me best: desk slightly away from the wall, sometimes at an angle. These minor adjustments made a world of a difference in how I felt throughout the work day. Always one to fidget, a staple desk top companion is my firetruck red OSM Forever Turning toy. I find this to be the perfect toy to keep my hands busy and my brain engaged on a zoom call.
Continuing to bring more play into my every day, I’ve spent many evenings winding down listening to the subtle drip-drop and tinkering sounds while playing Mini Motorways.
One of my favorite reads this year included Artificial Unintelligence by Meredith Broussard, which provided a grounding reminder that we’re still far off from robots taking over the world. This led me down a rabbit hole to explore the intersections of technology and race, something the Ruha Benjamin speaks about in this thought provoking talk. Lastly, one of the things that brings me joy each day is this delightful face oil by 5th Dimension.
This year, we couldn’t stop making pancakes in my house! I tried a bunch of recipes, and this one ended up being the fave. The inclusion of vanilla makes it extra super delicious. I also started measuring my ingredients by weight, using a little kitchen scale instead of measuring cups, which has made cleanup a lot easier.
During the spring, I started reading more about native plants (and why insects are so important!). Doug Tallamy’s writing on the need for biodiversity and Piet Oudolf’s landscape designs have been inspiring, and I made a few little flowerbeds with starts from Lucayda Farm, and help from the Rhode Island Wild Plant society resources and this how-to pruning book.
I also decided, after watching 100+ Skillshare classes, to take an IRL ceramics class taught by Marisa Finos at the Steel Yard. The class focused on hand-building methods and was incredibly fun. One of the biggest surprises and takeaway learning was how a simple method like coil-building can be used to quickly build sophisticated shapes at large scale. And it was so nice to meet a few new people, too.
- Lateral Cooking by Niki Segnit
- Glitter tea blend from Sanctuary Herbs or the Providence Breakfast blend from Farmacy Herbs
- A simple salt cellar on the counter has made a world of difference
- Suncatcher crystals for casual rainbows
- Encouraging words from Jessica Defino / The Unpublishable
- Cozy socks
- Craft in the Real World, by Matthew Salesses (NYTimes book review here)
The first quarter of this year I spent in Long Beach, California—a city I’d never been to, despite growing up in Los Angeles, and grew to love. It was brilliant and horrifying, as desert cities usually are. We went birding and herping in the desert, rediscovered Joshua Tree in the winter with friends, and enjoyed Klara and the Sun, in the sun.
Back on the East Coast, we dove back into the lushness at Trustom Pond, Ryan Park, and Rhode Island’s many, many other trails. We relied very, very heavily on Feast & Fettle who kept us fed, and who put actual thought and care towards their lovely food. I learned to make crepes (should’ve figured that out sooner), taught Wingspan to a few people, and rewatched A24 movies, both new and old.
- LIFE ON MARS? by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
- Writings by Alok Vaid-Menon
- Gratuitous holographic anything (stickers, Lemonhead LA glitter, Static nails)
- Brilliant ceramics by my friend Pam Zhang
- Surrealist horror-vignette puzzle phone games by Rusty Lake
- Theragun if you’ve been sitting at a desk! THERAGUN!
- Caroline Polachek’s album PANG