Welp. It wasn’t the best year. But we made it through.

There’s a lot to say about COVID, BLM protests, the election, and the general state of our society outside of the work place. We continue to try and do better both in our work practice and culture, and also in who we collaborate with and how we apply our skills. A lot of work to be done.

But for this update we’ll focus on the positive work that the team at Studio Rodrigo manages to produce each year. …

June 2020, venturing out of Bed Stuy.

Normally, these year end recaps are part a celebration of things that give me joy (travel, art, music, food) and reflection on the work that I find meaningful and occupies my days (somewhere at the intersection of design, technology, culture, and progress).

This mess of a year was always going to be a bit different — and then it lost control.

It’s hard to say anything about the events of this year briefly — COVID, police brutality, the election —and without being pessimistic or angry. The year has left me fairly dispirited about big picture issues.

Inequities and injustices, rooted…

Illustration by Killbeek

Jill Singer and I have been friends since college. She founded Sight Unseen in 2009 and has become an influential voice supporting designers. We talked over Zoom in May of 2020.

Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

RRD: Let’s start at the beginning, Jill. Where did you grow up?

JS: I grew up in St. Louis. There’s not that much to say about St. Louis, to be honest.

RRD: Which high school did you go to?

JS: I went to Parkway North High School. Do you know that’s the question you’re supposed to ask people from St…

Hi. I’m going to keep this simple — the goal in the next 60 or so days will be to Get Out the Vote (GOTV).

We need to motivate people to vote and educate them about their options, particularly in the face of COVID-related health concerns and Republican-fueled efforts to disenfranchise people by making it harder to vote and harder to get your vote fairly counted.

There are 3 key things that you can do — and they are all relatively easy. I am outlining my personal plan below, with some helpful links. …

Illustration by Patricia Furtado

Paul and I were friends at university and across cities and continents in the years following. The following conversation took place in 2007 at our friend Robin’s parents’ home in St. John, Virgin Islands. That home, Purt-Ny-Shee, was destroyed by hurricane Irma in 2017.

What follows is a lightly edited conversation from 2007.

Paul and I have been friends for about ten years. As I recall, we were first introduced by Andy. when Andy recruited me to join the Ovalshow sketch comedy group at Stanford University, in the fall of 1997. At the time, to a smart-alecky sophomore, Paul, along…

Illustration by Patricia Furtado

Jota Borgmann and I have been friends for over ten years in New York City. She is an attorney who advocates for clients living in adult care housing. We talked over Zoom in April of 2020.

Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

All views expressed in this interviews are Jota’s alone, and don’t represent her employer or union or anyone else like that!

RRD: Let’s talk about your work. I think I understand what you do — but can you just explain it to me?

JB: Sure. So I’m a lawyer. In the least technical terms that…

Illustration by Tatiana Braga

Kim Nicholas and I went to college together, overlapping slightly in the Earth Systems Program at Stanford University. In the midst of the global pandemic, we hopped on a Zoom call from Lund, Sweden and Brooklyn, New York to talk about growing up, wine, and climate change.

Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

RRD: I want to just start with growing up. You grew up in Northern Calinfornia, in Sonoma, is that right?

Hi -

The last few days have been a resurgence of sadness and frustration. A big part of the frustration is not feeling like there is anything that we can do as individuals, beyond being allies, joining protests, and donating to support organizations.

I would like to suggest that you can take 20 minutes this week to do 4 tangible things. These are easy but you will have to PICK UP THE PHONE and ORGANIZE WITH YOUR FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES.

When I do this, I am going to say that my name is Ritik Dholakia, I am a 20 year…

Illustration by Saksham Verma

Chuck Armstrong and I share a love for comedy, and while I am no longer funny, Chuck continues to be, as one half of the group Charles.

We chatted via email. It wasn’t funny enough. So then we had a quarantine Zoom session. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

RRD: Let’s not bury the lede. You contracted the novel coronavirus. What have you learned about yourself, or what powers have you gained, since having COVID-19?
Honestly, just that I’m extremely lucky to have gotten a fairly mild case and to have gotten it early enough to be tested…

I have never run a restaurant, and haven’t worked in once since I was 19 and was the only barman, waiter, and room service runner the bar (all at once) for a Holiday Inn in Rhode Island for a summer.

I do run a small design studio.

I love going to restaurants and bars — and “Restaurants are Doomed” articles like this are making me sad. This is a simple thought experiment on a business model for resilient small and mid-sized restaurants/bars and other place-based businesses in a post-COVID world.

Before I make an ass of myself

I’m going to work from one big, basic assumption —…

Ritik Dholakia

Studio Rodrigo. State x State. Brooklyn, NY.

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