Making a Difference in the New Year


Given all the twists and turns of the past few months, we’re wondering exactly what the rest of 2017 has in store. We know we’re not alone! We recently participated in the Women’s March in New York and were overwhelmed by the incredible passion and energy of our fellow marchers. The experience reminded us of the importance of civic engagement and the power that people have when they come together. As we continue to design projects related to education and publishing, we can’t help thinking about this spirit of engagement as a goal for our work. Collaboration is our favorite part of the design process, and good design—with the goal of elevating the lives of its users—is almost by definition democratic. Many of the projects we’ve worked on over the past year touched on these themes, and we hope to build on this aspect of our practice in 2017.

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Our Fall Reading List, 2016


Our recent design work focuses on education (read the latest on Li’l Stories here), and a big part of what we do involves getting kids to love reading. It goes without saying that we love reading as well—and it’s most definitely not all for work. We’re always looking for new books that will help us discover a fresh idea or give us a different perspective on the world. For this edition of our annual reading list, we asked our colleagues at Civic Hall, the collaboration center for civic tech innovators in New York, if they could recommend any titles that resonated with them over the past year.

The selected books explore subjects as varied as creativity, business and how to evolve the workplace to make it better for women, to time-traveling thrillers and a personal memoir about the impact of race. The suggestions may give you a few gift ideas just in time for the holidays, or a title to get lost in during a little downtime.

When we were putting together this list over the past month, we were expecting a very different outcome to the presidential election. The results have been a shock, and if we assembled another list right now it might be very different. But we like to think that whatever challenges the world holds in the coming years, we’ll always be able to find refuge, and inspiration, in a good book. In this spirit, we’d like to share our 2016 list. You can also find the selections on our bookshelf. Read More

A Year of Beginnings


Once upon a time—specifically, almost a year ago, in winter 2014—we had the idea for an educational framework that utilized the power of storytelling to help teach communication skills to children. A year later, Li’l Stories is being used by educators at several schools around the country. As 2016 begins, we would like to thank everyone who supported the project and helped make it a reality, especially those who backed our Kickstarter campaign, which exceeded its goal and was successfully funded at an incredible 143 percent! Your support has allowed Li’l Stories to reach thousands of students, giving them the opportunity to start the beginnings of their own narratives—as storytellers and lifelong communicators. Read More

Our Summer Reading List, 2015

Whether we’re digging into a new design manifesto or getting caught up in a classic novel, summer vacation is our favorite time to clear our heads, hit reset and expose ourselves to fresh ideas and ways of looking at the world by reading a good book. Earlier this summer Li’l Robin founder Anke Stohlmann completed her thesis in the School of Visual Arts MFA Interaction Design program. For this year’s edition of our annual reading list, we asked nine of our fellow 2015 SVA IxD graduates and one alumni to recommend books that have inspired them—during their time in the program, over the course of their careers, or simply what they’re reading right now. Now that our studies are over—and as a new school year begins for others—these titles will help us continue to learn.

The selected books explore how design and technology intersects with our lives, how organization can lead to creative breakthroughs (two readers chose the same book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up), and include more than a few good novels and visual narratives. Here’s what we’re downloading now. You can also find them on our bookshelf.

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A Year of Connection

Red Hook Hub ribbon cutting event

Red Hook Hub ribbon cutting event at the Brooklyn Public Library in Red Hook, December 6, 2014

Human-centered design is the focus of our practice, and over the past year we’ve had a chance to work on diverse projects that have connected people—communities, students, and readers—with information, and with each other.

Working with AIGA/NY Design/Relief, an initiative to support areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, we helped create The Hub, a new information system for Red Hook, Brooklyn, which officially launched last month. (Read more about The Hub in our November newsletter.) For students and educators, we collaborated on <codr>, an online tool that helps kids move from the building block-based coding language Scratch to text-based coding languages like Javascript and Python. And finally, somewhere in between it all, we got to spend time with subjects as varied as Paul McCartney, James Dean, Kurt Cobain, Robin Williams, Tony Bennett, the Vietnam War era, and “The Wizard of Oz,” as part of our ongoing design of the LIFE Books series.

We had an inspiring 2014 and look forward to staying in touch in 2015. Happy New Year!