2017 at Upperquad

A year in review

Phil Ruppanner
Published in
7 min readFeb 1, 2018


Is it too late? Definitely. 2018 has already been super busy with a lot great projects and we’re FINALLY getting to our year-end review.

Anyway, where were we? Oh right. 2017.

Is that still a thing?

Well, we’re posting this article about some of our favorite things from last year. Just in time for the 2018 to be one-twelveth over.

Nothing felt particularly momentous at the time, but there were a series of things that started adding up to a pretty amazing 2017. Contributions and efforts spread across many days, weeks and coming from everyone here at Upperquad.

We celebrated all these great things, both big and small, along the way. A lot happened. Here’s a quick rundown in a somewhat particular order.

It’s the team

What made 2017 great? The people we sit next to everyday.

The one thing we’re always most proud of about Upperquad is the group of people that work here. We have some of the most talented, smart, kind, creative, thoughtful people that you would like to meet. It’s what makes this place special.

Some amazing people joined Upperquad. We were lucky to add Anya to the dev team, Cecilia as a designer, and Danielle as a producer. Juliette and Louis were here on internships, which seemed too short, but only because they were so awesome.

Nobody — very fortunately — left. Except Bryan, who moved to Oklahoma City, where he still works full time for Upperquad and started raising spiders. We’re not sure if that’s slang for something? Bryan, if you are reading this, please move back to SF.

We did some fun stuff together, like going bowling and riding roller coasters. Some of us made it down to Los Angeles for the Awwwards Conference, while others went to Sydney to work on another year of Google Santa Tracker (and made a stop in Tokyo on the way back) and still others went to London to collaborate on 3D renders. Traveling is fun.

And, as the number of people here grows, we took the time to write down some of our philosophy of work and working. But that’s something you can read in another post. It’s like a whole thing.

Making things for good

With a particularly turbulent world in 2017, we wanted to make things that were meaningful to us and positively reflect our values.

After back-to-back-to-back hurricanes, a massive earthquake and wildfires, we wanted to do soemthing to help those in need. We were humbled when a group of the designers and artists who we admire most agreed to contribute their work to the Beacon Relief Effort. You can buy posters or — if you can’t decide — you can get the 46 different posters as postcards. All the proceeds from the project go to Direct Relief.

Also, we volunteered to work with 826 Valencia to completely redesign their website. They are some amazing people doing really good things and look for something there soon.

Jessica designed a limited edition print to celebrate women everywhere for International Women’s Day. We sent the print to some of our favorite women out there, including designers, illustrators, and friends (and our moms).

Bryan also designed some stickers to promote love and peace for all people, everywhere. We gave them away to anyone who wanted one and sent a few to friends all over the world.

Remaking and rebranding Upperquad

We finally took the time to launch a new Upperquad.com and, in the process, developed an entirely new approach to our brand. It was real soul-searching process that took place over a period of several brow-furrowing, debate-filled, endlessly iterative months.

Relaunching our own website challenged us to think long and hard about our brand — about what it means to be a creative digital studio and what we wanted to say about ourselves to the world.

On the one hand, we wanted to let our work speak for itself, so some of the early designs focused on case studies and photography. On the other hand, this was a chance to articulate our unique perspective and our culture; it was a real balancing act to find a way to explore our creative bounds without distracting from our work.

We got some appreciation for our all the hard work, getting recognition from the FWA, Awwwards, CommArts and MindSparkle. Plus a whole lot of love online and from our friends.

New work

A lot of what launched in 2017 was actually the culmination of a lot of work from the previous year. We had been waiting eagerly for it all to go live. But, once it did, it was worth the wait.

Some of the sites that launched worth celebrating: This is Bears Ears, Stanford d.school, Chromebooks, Santa Tracker, Facebook Creators, Tiltbrush AIR. We were seriously pretty busy.

We got some recognition for the work we did from CommArts, the FWA and Awwwards. But, more importantly than the awards, we did great work that our clients could be proud of and feel good about.

New office

We moved in 2017!

After almost 7 years on Divisadero Street, it was time to say goodbye to our very first and only office space to move to our new HQ just off Union Square. We miss our old neighborhood, but are enjoying finding all the great lunch and coffee spots around.

Oh. We filled the space with plants. Lots and lots of plants. Like a ridiculous number of plants.

Bryan designed a mural for the entrance that we got the amazingly talented people at New Bohemia to paint. Kailie, Bryan, Wyatt and Andy all worked really hard to make the new spot sparkle ✨, chosing all the fixtures and furniture.

Come visit!

Here’s to an amazing 2017

And an even better 2018.

Upperquad is a growing team of designers, developers and producers brought together by good fortune, great clients and a shared drive to make amazing things.

Phil Ruppanner is the founder and managing director of Upperquad, works hard and is generally a pretty nice guy I hear.

This article originally appeared in a series on Instagram: here, here, here, here, here and here. Follow us for more fun things. Oh, and Upperquad is hiring!



Phil Ruppanner

Working with forward-looking teams to build strategic visual systems, digital experiences, and brand identities. Founder of @UPPERQUAD.