Who We Are
Small Multiples is a worker-owned cooperative focused on graphic design and web development. Our mission is to support social and economic justice by designing and developing thoughtful media, while sustaining a long-lasting, democratic business. To us, thoughtful media means websites, books, brand identities, and other beautiful and intentional forms of communication that deliver real value to clients and memorable experiences to audiences.
Principles & Values
- We engage deeply in the theory and practice of design and technology.
- We challenge ourselves to create honest, accessible, and human-centered design.
- We prioritize creating real value for our clients.
- We take pride in our work, we treat our profession as a craft, and we are dedicated to improving asymptotically towards perfection.
- We attempt to name and challenge oppressive power dynamics whenever possible.
- We value a workplace that is democratic, transparent, and communicative.
- We tie as much of our business as possible, including clients and client work, to social and economic justice.
Work With Us
With over 12 years of experience in our field, we’ve learned to plan carefully, move quickly, and manage complex projects with our field-tested and highly collaborative agile process. Through working with numerous organizations and individuals dedicated to social justice, community engagement, higher education, and the arts, we have developed a deep understanding of the unique needs of these sectors. Our projects regularly incorporate more than one of the services listed below, so feel free to mix and match if your project doesn’t fit into only one category.
Identity & Branding
Good branding is honest, builds connection, and conveys values. A creative identity is not simply a logo, but an entire system. We’ve created a comprehensive process that begins with exercises for defining the brand, progresses through diverse concepting, and results in a refined and considered logo and supporting brand assets. We ensure the brands we design last, and even evolve, by designing comprehensive styleguides on how to use and care for them over time.
As omnivorous readers, we believe publications are a critical form of communication. We design unique books, magazines, zines, newsletters, catalogs, and reports that present content with clarity and harmony. To honor the content, we treat typography as the architecture that structures reading. For printed media, we carefully choose materials and production methods so that the final, physical object appropriately represents the editorial design and the subject matter.
Printed matter can affect people in ways digital media does not, offering space for texture and illustration. Folding and orientation enhances the navigational experience. We approach pieces like posters, brochures, postcards, and business cards with an open mind for color, image, and execution. A background in woodcut, stenciling, and screenprinting reinforces our sense of paper and ink, and we have experience with offset, digital, silkscreen, and letterpress printers. Our frequent print partners are union shops and worker-cooperatives.
Exhibition design is an opportunity to extend branding across disparate elements, drawing them together without overshadowing subject matter. We love the ways people interact with immersive design in physical space. It brings up entirely new challenges in scale, relationship, and readability. It is also an occasion to problem-solve through production materials like paint, vinyl, wood, and wheatpaste. Artists ourselves, we work to support artists and arts institutions, but our capacity also extends to educational exhibitions.
Website and User Experience Design
A tool has real value when it is alluring, usable, intuitive, and memorable. We take advantage of the unique opportunities the web holds for surprising, responsive, and rich visuals. We believe the strongest design and usability come from iteration and prototyping, in a process where design and development are interrelated. We strongly value and prioritize thoughtful content strategy.
Website and Application Development
For each project, our fundamental goal is to find the appropriate technical solution, whether that is Drupal, WordPress, AngularJS, mapping solutions, data visualization tools, or a new tool we learn. Innovation on the web moves fast, so we invest time in keeping up with technologies that are constantly being refined, new platforms that transform the way we interact with the internet, and tools that improve development efficiency. We follow industry best practices, especially when it comes to security, and all the designs we implement are mobile-first, responsive, and fully accessible.
We express our social justice values in our technology. We believe everyone should be able to access information equally. We regularly use, participate in, and contribute to open source projects that expand the technology freely available to everyone. We don’t believe in vendor lock-in, not in our own work and not in our tools. We avoid proprietary software, and instead choose platforms and content management systems that are open, robust, and extensible.
We value long-term relationships with clients. We handle hosting and make sure users are fully trained in how to care for their websites once they’re built. For applications, we write automated tests to ensure existing functionality doesn’t break when new features are added. For content management systems, we offer low-cost, ongoing maintenance contracts to ensure extensibility and security.
Consulting & Training
We offer consulting, such as performing website audits, creating Drupal and WordPress plans, and helping identify and create meaningful features that achieve a project’s goals. We also offer technical training to help clients expand their knowledge of how to configure and manage their website or application under the hood.
The two of us have a long history of close collaboration spanning more than seven years. Before teaming up as Small Multiples, we regularly partnered together through our respective worker-cooperatives, Quilted and Golden Arrows. When both disbanded in early 2015, we decided it was the perfect time to start a new worker-cooperative that built on everything we had learned thus far and to create space for innovative and reimagined practices.
In the past, we have worked with clients such as IDEO, Equal Exchange, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Bay Area Girls Rock Camp, the Annenberg School of Communication at USC, Education Arcade at MIT, United States Institute of Peace, Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, the Yes Men, and South Boston Community Health Center, among others.
Rocket Lee is a web developer and user experience designer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before co-founding Small Multiples in 2015, Rocket worked for seven years at Quilted, a technology worker-cooperative that built websites for progressive arts, education, and non-profit organizations. Rocket has a BA in computer science and architectural studies from Brown University and an MS in comparative media studies, with a focus on game design, from MIT. Rocket designs radical games whenever they have spare time.
Alexander Hage is a graphic designer based in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. Prior to Small Multiples, he worked for six years at Golden Arrows, an art and design cooperative based in Boston, whose two members also spent time in residence in Mexico City and Philadelphia. Alexander was one of the organizers of Feast Mass, a recurring micro-grant fundraising supper, and helped start a creative cooperative workspace called Make Shift Boston.