2017: Rodrigo at Five Years
The Studio at 5
Studio Rodrigo celebrated its fifth anniversary last year. We feel lucky and proud to have built a small, creative business that’s not only successfully stayed in business for five years, but been able to hold true to our vision and mission.
When we started Studio Rodrigo after leaving Method, we wanted to focus on helping companies launch new products + services. While that’s generally the ambition of a lot of design firms, we felt there was a role for a small, independent agency purpose built to work on new products.
In creating the studio, we made some very specific choices about how we would work:
- Team — we focused on building a team of exceptional digital product designers. A Rodrigo designer is a smart, collaborative graphic designer who can make complex ideas real quickly, and is comfortable iterating based on feedback from users, product owners, and technology partners.
- Approach — being able to get to market quickly, learn, and adapt is critical to creating successful software products. Compared to more standard design organizations that still work in fairly siloed, waterfall models, we’ve built a design approach that allows talented designers to work quickly to help design and deliver high quality experiences to market.
- Model — we believe small teams are best at solving problems, so rather than adding layers of agency bloat, we choose to staff teams of 2–3 designers partnering directly with clients on projects, with no traditional agency overhead.
- Relationships — by being independent and financially flexible, we’ve been able to seek out and partner with companies of different sizes, scales, and stages to tackle projects that we think are ambitious and interesting.
Designed for Change
The choices we made in building our studio and team have allowed us to partner with some really great companies, which continued this past year.
However, we’ve also been keenly aware that if you design a studio for working on new products + services, you are fundamentally designing a studio that needs to change.
In 2017, many of the trends that have been emerging in the past few years have accelerated, and we’ve been evolving to keep pace.
We’re happy to share and celebrate some of the products + working relationships that made up our 2017.
Mike Rudoy and Luke Cohler are building an incredible insurance tech company at Jetty. We had the pleasure of helping out with the first versions of their customer acquisition experience — the quote and bind flow. Mike and Luke are both founders with a great design sensibility, so working with them was a pleasure, and we’re excited to see how Jetty has grown in 2017, and continues to in 2018.
In the summer, we got a call a bit out of the blue from Nordeus. A game development studio based in Belgrade, Serbia, Nordeus has had incredible success creating one of the most popular football manager games in the world, Top Eleven.
As they look to expand their portfolio of games, Nordeus is building out a talented, fiercely independent team headquartered in Belgrade — and wanted an online presence that did a better job communicating their values, company vision, and introducing a global audience of tech and design talent to Belgrade. We collaborated closely with the Nordeus team and local development partners at Degordian to create an awesome site.
And we were able to take take a very fun trip to Belgrade, as well!
Future Labs AI Summit at NYU
We had fun working with the teams at NYU Future Labs and ffVC on their AI Summit in October of 2017. The event brought together experts from NYU and across academia, venture, corporate teams and start-ups to discuss trends in AI while also showcasing companies from the AI Nexus Lab.
We’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with the team at This American Life over the past few years on digital products, and were excited to partner with Whitney Dangerfield and Seth Lind on the S Town website which features incredible illustrations from Valero Doval.
We continued partnering with Jake Shapiro, Matt MacDonald and the RadioPublic team who are building the best podcast discovery and listening app. Download it and give it a shot if you haven’t already!
We were excited to hear Frontline was launching a podcast and helped them create a quick identity riffing off the core Frontline wordmark for The Frontline Dispatch.
We’ve continued a deep, embedded relationship with the product & design teams at Comcast, helping to drive the digital transformation of their account and self-service platforms. We’ve supported the Comcast product & design teams to drive positive change in core NPS metrics by helping enable customers to better manage their account, change their plan, and swap and return hardware online.
Following some work in the 2016 election cycle, we had the opportunity to collaborate again with the team at TurboVote in the 2017 gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey to test out campaigns aimed at increased voter registration and participation. We look forward to supporting efforts that promote civic engagement and participation in 2018.
Embedded Design Teams
Our ambition as a studio and as designers is to help companies work on the products and services that define the core value they deliver to their customers. Increasingly, the companies that we want to work with need deep and close collaboration.
Our studio model allows us to provide that, essentially staffing a small product design team that is experienced working together, in an exclusive and embedded relationship with in house product and design leadership. 2017 has provided an incredible opportunity to work with companies like Spotify, Helix, Comcast, and Intersection on a fully embedded basis on incredibly interesting product design challenges (that we can’t tell you about).
Working with Friends
Working closely with people you like makes coming in to the studio easy, especially during a year that was a little bit challenging. We had another fun year, and welcomed some new faces to the team, as well.
2017 Studio Retreat
We had a great summer retreat in August to Germantown, NY, which included a workshop day hosted at M&D Farm, some waterhole swimming, a crawfish boil, and great dinners in Hudson at Lil Deb’s and Germantown at Gaskin’s.
2018: Coming Attractions
There’s a lot of great work in 2017 that we can’t quite share yet, but keep an eye out for some upcoming releases with:
- This American Life
- NYU Future Labs
- Tomorrow Lab
- Dmitriy & Co
- Uprise Art
- ABC’s Good Morning America
- stealth start-ups in the crypto asset space, men’s health, and analytics platform for media
Designing for Good
If you know of any organizations creating positive change in their communities who would benefit from collaborating with Studio Rodrigo, please send them our way. We put together a quick outline on what makes for a good collaboration.
Statement of Values
We feel its important, as individuals and as a creative business, to both state our values and live by those values, particularly at a time when the political climate and business culture is engaged in rhetoric and policy that works in opposition to core humanistic and American values.
If you didn’t get a chance last year, or just feel like revisiting, please have a look at our studio values published at the beginning of 2017.