Looking Back, As We Look Ahead
Method Year in Review 2020
It was January 2020, and we were blissfully unaware. The New Yorkers were slurping noodles together near our studio in Chinatown, and the Londoners were going for pints at The Owl and Pussycat after workshops in our Shoreditch studio. We were on planes and trains to meet clients in San Diego, Portland, Bangalore, Zurich, and Paris.
As designers and strategists, we often advise our clients on the need for resilience, and we espouse the importance of embracing ambiguity and uncertainty. Our words were stress-tested this year, to say the least. But they didn’t come up empty. Thanks to flexible technology, empathetic leadership, and raw perseverance, we’ve come out stronger, more globally connected, and with a greater sense of appreciation for each other and each other’s full, complex lives.
Throughout the year we welcomed a number of new faces (or as Senior Designer Victor Kim likes to put it, new “cursors with voices”). Kim, Adriana, Priyanka and Adeline joined the London team at the beginning of the year, and Abraham, Nicole and Livie were our first remote hires in New York. Most recently we’ve brought on Liz and Richard to facilitate our heated Saints vs. Eagles conversations (and we’re still hiring — no sports references necessary). We also welcomed a new baby to the Method family (congrats Luke!).
Once we began to work remotely in March, we got to know each other’s kids and pets, new wall colors (at least a quarter of us relocated), and our looks when we really just can’t be bothered. Reema’s son Ayaan sent us all postcards with wonderful, fantastical short stories, and Chris’s kids delivered cookies to everyone on the team via the legendary Cookie Express. In a big moment for all of us, Livie’s dog Archie was officially inducted into a hiking club. We missed each other, so we (the New Yorkers at least) played hooky one day and snuck out to Governor’s Island, where we rode bikes, swung in hammocks and looked at each other quizzically, amazed by each other’s multidimensionality.
A productive year
That was pretty much the only day we played hooky, though. Otherwise we were busy. And we’re pretty proud, honestly — so let’s brag a little: Over the course of these 365 days, we will have worked with 23 clients in 12 industries on 35 projects in 6 countries. We worked on two projects entirely in French.
We dove deep into the world of gaming to design a customer support platform and strategy for players. We investigated the product-market fit for a blockchain-for-hemp startup, designed and built a small business app for a popular French SaaS provider, and redesigned a self catheter service for those struggling with painful bladder issues. We helped a national daycare brand define its content strategy, and designed a platform to help pet hospitals manage their (adorable) patients. For an edtech nonprofit, we discovered new opportunities to expand their audience and further their mission of increasing empathy among children. We are deep in the world of investment banking services, with two groundbreaking products in active rollout. This year many of our clients have evolved into true partners, trusting us to do rigorous research with customers and stakeholders, to define and socialize new strategies, and ultimately, to bring a collective vision to life.
Many of us took on side projects in addition to client work. Adeline taught us how to build bikes, Claire brought us weekly “Isolation Jams” playlists, and Lauren led a surprisingly consistent daily stretching session (and achieved near-cult leader status for her skills). It was a good reading year, and nearly everyone is a better cook. We’ve become stronger storytellers, both about our work and ourselves. Reema’s storytelling course gave many of us the courage to publish our perspectives and contribute our voices to the evolving Method brand.
A resurgence of purpose
When we weren’t hustling or side hustling (or binging Tiger King), we were processing. Attempting, at least, to internalize the overwhelming racial, environmental and political reckonings of 2020. We considered how to respond, both individually and as an organization. When you have the power to do, what do you not do? One thing was clear: posting a black square is not enough.
Many of us took it upon ourselves to learn how we could unlearn our biases, seeking out conversations and conferences like Where are the Black Designers. We donated our time to introduce students from underserved groups to the world of design through The Fresh Air Fund. We offered free consulting sessions to small business owners through our Business Doctors sessions and continued our tradition of supporting students and teachers through Donors Choose. We’re currently wrapping up our fourth-annual Operation Santa run.
Method is a 21-year-old company. And yet, here we are, re-examining our processes, our purpose, appreciating our colleagues in new ways, and growing our capacity for resilience.
We are in a privileged place. Not just because we have jobs that we enjoy, and the opportunity to think and to make. But because design, at its core, is hopeful. As Herbert Simon puts it, to design is to devise courses of action “aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.”
During this moment of colossal change in the world, it is empowering to be able to help our clients define, articulate and build these preferred futures, taking care to consider the knock-on effects on local people, environments and economies.
What will 2021 bring? We won’t kid ourselves and say we know for sure. But we do have some big plans for expansion in the works (Shhhh). No matter how big we grow, though, this year has taught us the importance of staying grounded in what really matters: Mutual support. A beginner’s mindset. Fulfilling work. Time for rest. Creative solutions. And a vision for a better future.
We wish you and yours the happiest of holidays. Let’s roll the dice for 2021, as we hope for a healthier and kinder year.