FiveStone Year in Review

A look back at some highlights from 2016

Some of the team prepping for our annual holiday dinner. This year, we made our way to Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

Just a few blocks from our office tourists prepare to watch a giant ball of crystals drop from the sky as hip-hop bands most of us have never heard of ring in 2017. We join in this celebration by reflecting on another wonderful year at FiveStone.

Finding Purpose

One of the ways we track the success of our organization, and team, is by evaluating what we label as purpose. We look to see if the projects we are working on are fulfilling to us and if they are making the world a better place.

When we discuss purpose I’m reminded of how much each of us long for this at a core level. We believe that our work is more than just a paycheck or avenue for personal satisfaction. Instead, our work matters. What we make matters. How we work, and for whom we work, matters.

We believe that our work is one of the primary ways that we take responsibility for the world. So, as we work, we are using our time, talents, and energy to respond to the needs of the world. In this, we find purpose.

And so, we are grateful for everyone we encountered throughout the year that has allowed us to partner with them in their great work and to co-steward with them in their response.

2016 Project Highlights

As we look back, we wanted to share with you a few of the great projects that came across our desks in 2016.

Matchbook Learning

UX and UI for Matchbook’s learning app.

We continued our 7th year of working with our friends at Matchbook Learning. Their team enters the lowest performing schools in the country and works to turn them around.

This year our partnership revolved around two big projects. First, we re-imagined the entire “user experience” for students and teachers within a Matchbook school. By interviewing students and teachers we dreamed up a world where the classroom extends far beyond the walls of the school and pushes students into learning experiences throughout the day.

In addition, we designed a rapid prototype and MVP for a “non-reader” (Kindergarten and 1st grade) version of the existing Matchbook platform, Spark. We setup an innovation lab with students so that we could prototype and iterate on our ideas. We then took our insights back to FiveStone where we developed the wireframes and UI/UX for the app. All of this in just four weeks.

A Matchbook student user journey as we imagined a new student experience.
Prototyping: Day One
Prototyping: Day Two

Princeton Theological Seminary

Princeton Theological Seminary’s roster of alumni includes martyrs, activists, poets, writers, politicians, ministers, and theologians. This diverse collective of alumni has comforted the world in times of grief, given their lives fighting for the oppressed, broken barriers, led movements, and shaped Christian thought for generations.

We intersected with the great folks at PTS to help re-imagine their brand and clean up their digital presence. Early on we decided that we wanted the new brand to honor the tradition of the 200 year old seminary while pointing a way forward. On the digital front, our challenge was to take a website with tens of thousands of disparate pages and transform it into a mobile-responsive, streamlined presence.

New seal and mark for Princeton Theological Seminary
A new digital experience for potential students.

Marq Energie

Marq Energie represents several wine trade groups in Europe (which themselves are a collective of vineyards in a specific wine growing region) to help bring their wares into the American market. We collaborated on a one year social media project to increase audience engagement around the wines of Provence in southern France and the Tejo river valley in Portugal.

Our work drove new interest in Provençal rosé wines (that are riding a wave of summertime popularity) to become more of a year-round go-to wine and household name. In addition, we introduced Americans to the wines of Tejo — and by extension the culture of Portugal — as a bold, undiscovered, adventurous yet approachable gem of the wine world.

We saw a significant boost in the interest in the Wines of Provence, helping to make a banner year even better. And, the wines of Tejo grew by leaps and bounds as these vineyards start to move into the international spotlight.

“It was exciting to take on this design challenge as an anthropologist: digging into the very essence of what makes each culture unique, from the families that gather around the communal table for Provençal meals to the generations of villagers who come together in Tejo for the grape harvest. This was so much more than increasing wine sales. We had the opportunity to celebrate the heritage of each wine region so that Americans might rekindle, or discover for the first time, what it means to live a richer, deeper life when you share a meal together with a bottle of wine.”
Armistead Booker
FiveStone’s Strategic Lead for Marq Energie
We joined the Provence team for a five-course wine tasting of Mediterranean culinary delights at Claudette, a renowned French restaurant in NYC. #perks


We celebrated our ten year anniversary with Orange this year. What started out all those years ago as design for a book cover has turned into one of our favorite projects each year. Now, we do far more than book covers as each year we design the marketing and event materials for their annual conference in Atlanta. Hundreds of thousands of people are interacting with our work through Orange and we couldn’t be more proud to call them a partner.

Here is a look at some of our past branding work and here are some highlights from our event work.

The Akilah Group

Students at The Akilah Institute

The Akilah Group is an umbrella organization that works to educate and employee people in Rwanda. Graduates from their institute are highly sought after with 88% of them finding employment within six months of graduation. In addition, they earn 12 times that of the national median income.

This year Akilah launched MindSky, an online employement resource that connects the best talent in East Africa with the best employers. We partnered with Akilah to establish a new brand architecture, frameworks, and visual expression that could marry MindSky with the existing brands as well as allow for future growth.

“The problems of the world often appear to be too entrenched, too overwhelming, too unjust to hope for something better. Akilah is making an impact by changing individual lives through education and employment. Each of those lives enriches a family, a community, a workplace, an economy, a country. I’m proud of the work that we’re doing to support the audacious, disruptive hope and ingenuity that Akilah brings to East Africa.”
Kristin Spix
FiveStone’s Strategic Lead for Akilah
An Akilah graduate.

Looking forward to 2017

As we prepare for 2017 we have a couple projects already underway with some new partners that we are excited about.

Hearing First: You know it’s going to be a great project when you choke-up with tears every time you talk about what the client does. The amazing team at Hearing First works with children who are deaf or hard of hearing to help them reach their full-potential.

Mobile Serve: This fast-growing startup is changing the face of volunteerism by making it easier to track hours served. Super cool.

Bible Study Fellowship: This 57-year-old global brand is undergoing massive change. We are excited to lead discussions on how design thinking, digital, and brand can help lead the way for a new generation of participants.

Our Team

Sometimes the best projects are the ones that happen outside of the office (or at least we think this is happening outside of the office). A couple highlights:

  • Kristin and her husband welcomed their second son into the world, Nathan. The hair on that kid is incredible.
  • Neil and his wife are expecting. We are all positive that kid will also have a very full head of hair.
  • Armistead’s hosta plants have thus far survived the great transplant of 2016.
  • Record Breaking: You won’t read this in the recruiting brochure, but it’s almost a given that if you enter FiveStone single you leave married. This year however was record-setting. Three FiveStone employees got engaged and married in 2016 (not to each other!).
Nathan, could this kid be any cuter?
The face of a man whose hostas have survived.

Happy Holidays! We look forward to making something together in the new year.