All posts in Studio Life

What’s an artist to do without her model (or available colleague)? Why, Photo Booth, of course. Check out Kay posing for her own illustrations on public health and green building:

Deanna takes D.C…and all the donuts.

Just as birds fly north in the spring, our southern belle made the 1,100-mile journey from Louisiana to D.C. last week for much needed face time with the team. Packing a change of clothes and a voracious appetite only ultra-glazed donuts could satisfy, Deanna found not one, but two dozen deep-fried rings of warm, sugary goodness waiting for her.

Talk about DOA (diabetes on arrival).

Let’s roll that donut reel!

But her visit wasn’t all play—er, eat. After making sure we had our fair share (one for each of us, 18 for herself), Deanna met with various FHI 360 staff so they could put a face to “that lovely drawl on the phone.”

Web team unites! Jake and Deanna recapturing the moment.

No longer confined to her hallway-office at home, Deanna got a kick out of the studio’s extra square footage.

Kudos to Brian for immortalizing her visit!

King Cake fuels design

It’s that time of year again. The time when the grand ole king cake makes its way to the DesignLab-ers in DC.

Pause to salivate.

The tradition extends back to January 2007. Deanna’s mother so generously shipped the cake from her hometown of Baton Rouge so that our team could gain inspiration, if you will, from the savory sweetness of this sinful donut cake.

As seen below, our honorary Design Lab member, Mia, models her slice and magical baby-finding finding skills (for the third time). #3-peat

Naturally, there is a reason why this cake is critical to our design work and environment. So here goes. It promotes happiness and full bellies, which supposedly can trigger high levels of right-brain creative activity.

Who are we kidding? We do it because it is delicious and a great reason to congregate even for a few minutes.

Happy Mardi Gras, fellow designers and creative thinkers.

Our Year in Pictures: 2012

2012 was a year for the record books.  300++ projects, 12 designers, 1 new outpost in Bangkok, 2 office moves, 80 APHA posters in 4 weeks, a 400+ page volume of charts, 5 conferences, 4 pregnancies, 2 babies (so far) — it was a productive and fertile year.


Happy Birthday, Brian! A sweet pairing of chocolate cake and hand-crafted paper flowers.



Stef back at the UN.

Brian tests the new video cam.


Carly weaves daisies into a delightful message for Design Lab’s booth at the Global Leadership Meeting.

Everybody loved the booth and binders too.


Anne in FHI 360 orange with Liza at the GLM Closing event.


Matt Mattassa, official understudy for TEDxDupontCircle speakers.

More hosting duties for yellowpants: “Have a great, er good Friday!” at  TEDxChange TEDxDupontCircle

Melanie scribbling on the TEDxDupontCircle wall (that she ordered!)


Un voyage à Paris? Mais oui! A stroll through the City of Light after meeting with UNESCO. Followed by THE BEST. MEAL. EVER.


How’s it hanging in the FHI 360 PQC (aka condom exploding lab)? Kung shows off her…*ahem*…package designs. (Yes, she designed the pink strawberry!)



Just hangin’ out…

Leanne joins Brian, Jake and Anne at the Vimeo Film Festival. (It was a windy day.) Cool video wall in the Gehry-designed IAC Headquarters building.



Design Lab moves to new studio! So many, many, many boxes.

Kung visits DC! Taking her out for some Southern Hospitality.

Birthdays – sponsored by Google Hangout

Homemade (in-house illustration) Candy. Welcome to Design Lab, Kay! How did we exist for so long without you?


Meliha auditioning to be a Pantene model. #glamphotobomb

Scenes from Design Lab Pet Thursdays. Note the kitty stare-off.


Louis Frederick Saab III is born! Congrats to Deanna, now the mother of two. (But seriously, how can she look this good moments after delivery?!)

Working and working out….

Major team headache effort: APHA Conference Posters. Signed, sealed, delivered – 80 research posters for in 4 weeks.

Good morning, AIGA DC!: Lively and passionate audience at AIGA Salon“How to Design for Good, Full-time


After a long search… Welcome Irinn to Design Lab/Bangkok! (Something tells us that you’re going to fit right in)

Congratulations to the new Mrs. Shannon Smith Dyson!

WOW! Our laser cut Marian Bantjes poster on display at Cooper-Hewitt’s Graphic Design: Now in Production


Thanksgiving package. Welcome to earth, Stella Marie O’Brien. Stef gets a new name: MOM.



Design without a dime…Kay crafts a message for our wall using tape, paper, and whatever else is lying around the studio.

And then the Rauschenberg arrives…


Our BKK ladies…at play work


Prepping for first ever TEDxLumpini at the stellar FHI 360 APRO office in Bangkok.

Irinn’s concept note: An “X” forms when you bridge the space between “> <”

Last checks with Kung, the “AV” director (It means different in BKK. Scroll to 1:46 to find out.) with Pailin and the inspiring TEDx speaker / horse whispherer Dr. Siraya.

Anne with the lovely Jackie McPherson

Thank you to AIGA and the fine folks who attended our studio tour.

Holiday mini potluck. On the menu: Kay kale, Peruvian chicken, noodles, a blueberry pie, green tea crepe cake and Brian’s divine ginger crème brûlée. Naps.




“Design for Good”: A Working Definition

Opening remarks from the AIGA DC Salon: How to Design for Good, Full Time, September 24, 2012, Washington, DC

“Design for Good” is any form of design work that aspires to better someone’s life. To me, it is a distinct facet of the design practice, a specialization as discreet as branding or interactive design. Designers working in this field have expertise in the traditional aspects of graphic design — print, web, interactive — but will have one special power: empathy.

Aside our usual obsessions — fonts, paper, the smell of ink, kerning— we are also keenly interested in people, in history, in current events, in culture and care to know how our work is received and how we can do better next time. Our work supports, vivifies and amplifies programs. Change doesn’t happen when the brochures are delivered from the printer.  Design is part of the process and not the end.

Design for Good is iterative. Inclusive rather than exclusive. We co-create. To be effective, our work must be timely and responsive, not just to a client deadline but say, to the urgency of a burgeoning epidemic. We are pragmatic as we are idealistic.

What we won’t be able to spend time on is the word “Good”. There are gradients to “good” perhaps enough to warrant its own Salon. At times, “Design for Good” can be political or critical. But at the heart of Design for Good is always a love for community, a cause and the other. Design for Good” is animated with a zeal for service. —AQ


Designing Across Timezones

How do we collaborate across timezones? Creatively.

This year, Design Lab branched out to the FHI 360 Asia Pacific Regional office in Thailand. We use Google hangouts, Skype calls, video messages, annotated PDFs, What’s App, Viber, Facebook pokes, etc. to stay in touch.

Irinn explaining a die-cut concept to Anne (with Kung behind the camera).

“Hello from +12 Hours into the Future” via Google Hangout: 9:30am EST — 9:30pm ICT (Bangkok time)

Sending sketches before a call.

Irinn and Kung at Lumpini Park

So Irinn turns out to be a fantastic photographer and Kung a very persuasive model recruiter. Some never-before-seen images for a planned TEDxLumpiniWomen JR InsideOut Project collab.


Thank you for another inspiring year. Your work and passion fuel our creativity.

The perfect dozen cupcakes from Charles.

Carly and her sewing machine, prepping for our winning display at the “Project Runway” themed Social Change breakfast



Designers LOVE here. As a collective valentine to the beleaguered company we love, our team decided to make handmade greetings with found materials. No templates, no plans. Just pure improv with whatever was in front of us. It was great working with our hands again—paper, thread, glue. Check out the wild assortment of cards here:


A field trip to the Goethe Institut to view German for Beginners exhibit. Recap by Stefanie O’Brien, Design Lab’s resident secret design spy of German origin.

Day trip to NYC for kick-off meeting at the UNDP.

Pondering the um, suggestive painting in Anne’s office.


On April 15, 2011, a beautiful cloudless morning in Washington, DC, the AED sign goes down. Design Lab rescues the “A” which now hangs on our wall.


The beautiful and delightful Anna Frances Ledet Saab is born. Stef in the secret furniture storage on the 3rd floor.

Our Shared History Timeline project: Crowd sourcing AED’s history with staff milestones.

Five room installations for the Legacy celebration in two days. Egads. Stef feeling the ’80s.

Golden moment: Jeff Koons typography via Party City.


Anne’s dad visits the studio and takes in DC views from the rooftop. Anna at 1 month channeling Maggie Simpson.

Mid-day rebus challenge answer: STEFANIE + O+BRIAN


Meliha and the Legacy Awards. More than 300 awards, lovingly assembled and framed.



Brian in Botswana: Filming the BORNUS video with Duane and the Golden Teens group in Gaborone.

Break in case of emergency: 240 calories x 50 servings. Thank you Tom and Memo.


Change of scenery at the FHI 360 Asia Pacific Innovation Summit, Hua Hin, Thailand. In love with our new FHI 360 APRO family already — Tony and Jackie (with Allegra Jordan of Innovation Abbey).

Mayo Center Innovation Conference, Rochester, MN

Brilliant minds and the loveliest assortment of hipsters and dandies at the Barcelona AGI.

Melanie gets hitched!

The best unproductive Skype meeting ever.

Spotted: Carpet snag man outside Shannon’s office


Anne at TEDxPhoenix talking about the Double Ds for Change.

Celebrating Meliha’s birthday with spongey sweet cakes from the local bakery.


Flurry of activity for TEDxDupontCircle viewing party of TEDxWomen.  The amazing women of Batala DC getting ready to go on stage.

Carly heads west to San Francisco for the HOW Interactive Design Conference and wins the HOWIDC Challenge!

Packed and ready to move to our temporary space as we wait for our new studio.

Pausing for a moody group picture by Holly Ladd.

Where’s Design Lab these days? Across the bridge, North Building, 11th floor, turn towards the double glass doors but don’t enter (that’s SMCC), then trek down the corridor…or just call us.

Temporary space. Permanent sandwich maker. #newnormal #familykitchen

And nothing less than an epic awe-inspiring double rainbow caps the year. So intense! (12/27/2011, 4:45pm, FHI 360 rooftop)

FHI 360’s Hope for 2012

Sending warm wishes to FHI 360’s partners and clients with a snappy animated greeting:

Know Your Source Videos

Ever wonder what it took to prepare that tender, buttery poached lobster on your plate? Working with the Global Fish Alliance, we developed these videos to highlight the importance of understanding where and how your food is sourced. Definitely things to consider the next time you dine out. Kudos to Michael Selby, our talented intern, for devoting his summer to this!