We’re friends from RISD.
It’s a collaboration between two graphic designers.
New York and Chicago
What do you do?
identities and more
Please consider the environment before printing.
What we do.
is a graphic design and communications studio founded by Esther Chak
and Mary-Jo Valentino
. We work with a range of nonprofit and mission-driven clients in science, technology, education, and the arts, to create web media, identities, print communications, and visual explanations. Click on the client list to see work samples, learn more about us here
, and read a description of our services here.
Or, email us.
Browse our work by media or service type:
Or, click on a client name below to read about a particular project.
NEWS: October 1, 2013
Imaginary Office has won first prize in the Robert Wood Johnson Healthcare Price Transparency Challenge!
Our illustrated graphic guides a reader through the experience of using data to help choose a hospital for knee replacement surgery, and finding out how much it will cost.
We created this website for theoretical physicist Lee Smolin to accompany the launch of his new book, Time Reborn. Smolin argues that "time is real," against the leading scientific belief that time is relative, or an illusion. The slowly shifting background color makes a visitor conscious of time passing. Visit the site at www.leesmolin.com
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Imaginary Office won first prize in the RWJF Healthcare Price Transparency Challenge! Our illustrated graphic guides a reader through the experience of using data to help choose a hospital for knee replacement surgery, and finding out how much it will cost. Learn more here.
We designed and built this website to accompany Stuart Firestein's new book Ignorance. As a neuroscientist, Firestein embraces the concept of science as "not knowing." The site expresses this idea as a dark space that a viewer explores by mousing around to reveal icons and content. Visit the site at ignorance.biology.columbia.edu
The Actors Fund
We designed the Seniors Community Survey report for The Actors Fund, a human services organization that supports professionals in performing arts and entertainment. The report explores the changing needs of Manhattan's growing senior population, especially those living in Manhattan Plaza, the largest affordable housing complex in the nation dedicated to performing arts professionals.
News: The Kitchen Archive Relaunches
The Kitchen's Archive has relaunched! Search and browse through 40+ years of avant-garde performance art history online at archive.thekitchen.org
We designed and developed an archive website for The Kitchen, an experimental arts organization whose performance space has introduced the public to avant-garde artforms since the 1970s — including music, dance, film, video, and performance art. The Kitchen is digitizing over 10,000 archival videos and print ephemera that will be available on this site, including early performances by the Talking Heads, Philip Glass and Laurie Anderson. The database uses tagging, indexing, and social media to encourage visitors to browse, discover, and share content.
Innovations for Poverty Action
Innovations for Poverty Action is a nonprofit organization dedicated to alleviating global poverty through proven and applied research projects. We collaborated with IPA on a visual identity for their newly scaled-up safe water project. Dispensers for Safe Water is a program that teaches communities to install and maintain communal chlorine dispensers to provide free clean water that could help eliminate waterborne diseases, especially among children. The initial design applications included a custom folder, brochure, business cards, and office templates.
Cool Roofs Toolkit
We have worked with Global Cool Cities Alliance and R20 Regions of Climate Action to develop a website whose objective is to function as a hub for the cool roofs movement. The site includes a searchable knowledge base, a cool roofs primer and implementation guide. Visit the site at: coolrooftoolkit.org
University of Victoria
We engaged with scientists at University of Victoria to develop a report book that describes the methodology and statistical framework for the Global Aquaculture Performance Index (GAPI), and the results of a GAPI analysis on the effectiveness of eco-labels for marine finfish aquaculture production. In visualizing the data through various graphics, we contributed to the shaping of the narrative as a whole. The audience for this
publication includes governments, NGOs, and the international aquaculture industry.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
We designed a 60-page printed report, custom information graphics, and a web slideshow for Monterey Bay Aquarium's twenty-fifth anniversary release, Turning the Tide: The State of Seafood. The report chronicles the latest in ocean research and provides the aquarium's recommendations for best practices surrounding the seafood industry. This report was a collaboration with California Environmental Associates.
Chicago Architecture Foundation
The Chicago Architecture Foundation recently launched DiscoverDesign.org, the online version of their popular high school textbook, The Architecture Handbook. The site is structured in two parts: a textbook, and a community-driven studio space where students can post design projects and receive feedback from professional architects. Esther worked on the pilot for this site in collaboration with Palantir.net.
New York Philharmonic
We have designed and developed various online projects for the New York Philharmonic and its Archive, including animations, electronic announcements, blog and Tumblr pages, and Annual Report and Newsroom websites. The organization's recent rebranding communicates the new, fresh direction for the symphony. The online tools we have designed for them support this endeavour.
New Urban Arts
Over the years, we've done a variety of print work for community arts organization, New Urban Arts. From announcements to newsletters and exhibition materials, every piece of design emphasizes the artwork produced by their community of students and emerging artists.
Sea Change Management
Sea Change Management supports companies by funding and facilitating ecologically-sustainable business practices. The identity that we designed for them reflects both their philosophy of incremental change, and their original sector focus: the oceans. The business card is letterpress-printed on duplex paper.
These websites for Random House, its imprints, and its authors offer readers a variety of interactive tools and features, from interviews and excerpts to tour schedules, reading group tools and digital postcards.
Blue Earth Consultants
We designed the conference materials for the State of the California Central Coast Symposium, which included a full-color program booklet, a custom pocket folder, and a custom screen-printed tote.
Krannert Art Museum
The design of this permanent collection catalog offers two narratives at once: the stories of the artworks in the collection, and the history of collecting at the museum. Washes of color, expressive type, and pamphlet insertions communicate the museum's approach of unfolding meaning over time. Esther was the lead designer of this project while at Studio Blue.
AIGA 50 Books/50 Covers, Print Magazine Regional Design Annual selection, Art Institute of Chicago permanent collection
TEDMED is a division of the TED conference that focuses on the future of medicine and the healthcare industry. Asking smart questions is the foundation of the TED concept, and the objective of this website site was to attract conference attendees as well as media and sponsor interest. Mary-Jo completed the website design and copywriting while working with Radical Media.
We designed a new logo for EcoWest, a data visualization and analysis group that produces and shares information about conservation issues and ecosystem health in the American West. The mark conveys both the iconic mountain ranges of the West and the concept of graphed data.
Global Heritage Fund
We designed Saving Our Vanishing Heritage a 68-page printed report for Global Heritage Fund, a non-profit dedicated to saving archaeological heritage sites around the world through investment in sustainable preservation. The report was released at the The Forum on Cultural Heritage in a Developing World conference at Stanford in October 2010. Information graphics and illustrated data helped tell the story.
Global Cool Cities Alliance
We worked with The Energy Foundation to design a visual identity, website, and digital brochure for Global Cool Cities Alliance. The alliance advocates for the implementation of cooler roofs and surfaces in cities to help combat global warming. Our information graphics and illustrations helped translate key scientific concepts such as albedo and the heat island effect.
Visit the site at globalcoolcitiesalliance.org
We designed a brochure for Ideas42, a think tank that applies behavioral economic and other social science theories to help solve common social problems. We communicated their unique approach by pairing unexpected photographs with three sample areas of their work: energy conservation, saving for retirement, and avoiding foreclosure.
Our work for National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) spans user interface and intuitive form design to brochures. The organization serves the charter school community by helping public school officials assess and report on the effectiveness of public education.
Our book designs for Chiron Publications include the covers and interiors for Friendship and Healing, a 128-page book about the correspondence between founding fathers John Adams and Benjamin Rush, and The Soul's Ministrations, a 158-page book about art and psychological healing. Both books are bound as soft covers with flaps, and include art plates.
This toolkit consists of five pieces: a custom folder, three booklets (on the themes of the Gulf's treasures, ecological problems, and OC's restoration approach), plus a handy pocket guide with citizens' resources and a jargon translator. The design emphasizes the interconnection between Gulf habitats and communities, and the need for an equally integrated restoration process.
2010 Sappi Ideas that Matter Grant winner
Harm Reduction Coalition
We collaborated with the nonprofit Harm Reduction Coalition to redesign their journal Harm Reduction Communication, as well as several other public health documents and user-friendly guides. Audiences for these publications include social workers, health care industry professionals, and the general public.
One Earth Designs
We designed the new visual identity for One Earth Designs, a Hong Kong-based company dedicated to developing affordable clean energy household appliances for rural Chinese and emerging markets. The mark is inspired by the company's inclusive and collaborative approach to research and development, and by their inaugural product, a portable home solar energy system. The first applications of the brand are bilingual, in English and Chinese.
The Pew Charitable Trusts
In addition to designing scientific reports and information graphics for Pew, we developed a comprehensive template system that visually coordinates materials produced by the Ocean Science Division, Lenfest Ocean Program, Sea Around Us Program, and Pew Marine Fellows. Highlights from this project include: the definition of graphic standards, multilingual and international template options, dynamic flexible layouts, and a comprehensive user manual.
Esther and Mary-Jo each contribute over ten years of experience in print, web, and media design. They first collaborated in 2007 at Rhode Island School of Design, where they earned MFAs in Graphic Design. Mary-Jo comes from a publishing and radio journalism background and holds a BA in English from Princeton University. Esther's experience spans the architecture, fashion, and nonprofit worlds. She holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Columbia University. They have taught design at RISD, Parsons the New School for Design, and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Esther is a designer based in Chicago, Illinois. She holds an MFA in Graphic Design from Rhode Island School of Design and a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Columbia University. She has over ten years of experience in print and interface design, having worked both in-house and for clients in the arts, culture, architecture, and technology sectors. She has taught design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and RISD.
Mary-Jo has worked for ten years in media development and design, with experience in web, radio and print environments. She holds a BA in English from Princeton University and an MFA in Graphic Design from Rhode Island School of Design. She lives in New York and teaches graphic design history and sustainable systems at Parsons The New School for Design.