In 2015, Fresh Tilled Soil celebrated its tenth anniversary. To set the course for the next ten years, I proposed that we revisit the company’s branding and identity. With most of our energy focused on clients, our own marketing collateral and website updates were squeezed into the margins, and the identity lacked a cohesive visual system. Leadership agreed, and soon Fresh Tilled Soil itself became my sole client.
For more than 80 years, Titleist has made “the #1 ball in golf.” The storied company came to Fresh Tilled Soil with a website that had grown too cumbersome; it was inflexible, mobile unfriendly, and in need of a visual and UX overhaul. Our team set out to craft a modern, fully responsive site that captured the brand’s timeless classicism. I worked alongside some of Fresh Tilled Soil's most senior creative talent, and contributed to the project's visual design, conceptual development, wireframing, prototyping, icon design, and more.
In partnership with Art of Context and Massport, Fresh Tilled Soil overhauled the terminal maps for Boston Logan International Airport. I was proud to lead the design efforts, using our human-centered design process to create entirely new mapping assets that have since been used by tens of millions of travelers.
Rethink Robotics makes extraordinary robots for manufacturing and scientific research. At the company’s core is a profound vision of the relationship between humans and robots, and no wonder—co-founder Rodney Brooks is a robotics pioneer. That vision, however, was lost in its website, buried by a complex information architecture and unfocused design.
The site Fresh Tilled Soil crafted better illustrates Rethink’s compelling narrative and serves as a flexible platform for their future growth. I led the design and storytelling efforts, Hamy Pham and Kristy Stetson provided design support (as well as photography and information architecture expertise, respectively), and Sarah Canieso and Dave Romero spearheaded development, from the responsive front-end to the highly customized Wordpress installation. The full story is available in a Fresh Tilled Soil case study.
While the overall design effort was highly collaborative, there is one corner of the work I can call my own: the iconography.
Communicating the immense potential of Rethink’s flagship robot, Baxter, had historically proven challenging. First, Baxter rarely replaces an existing machine in a simple one-two swap. It’s a highly flexible robot that excels at mimicing the repetitive, manual tasks often relegated to low-level line workers. Adding Baxter necessitates creative thinking, shifting the production line around to best capitalize on its unique strengths. Second, Rethink’s sales team found that many prospects saw themselves in narrow terms. When shown examples of Baxter working in factories or situations that didn’t closely match their own, many potential clients said “Baxter isn’t for me,” and the deal was lost.
Custom iconography paired with clean storytelling helped to bridge these communication gaps. We worked with Rethink’s team to identify Baxter’s five primary applications: kitting, packaging, loading & unloading, machine tending, and material handling. The icons I developed over countless rounds of paper sketching and vector tweaking lack any suggestion of a specific product or material. Given that Baxter’s “hands” are interchangeable (grabbing pincers may be swapped out for vacuum suckers), I even removed any suggestion of the robot itself, instead focusing on the action it takes. The resulting icons appear throughout the site, paired with short descriptive text and tightly shot videos that focus on interaction over environment.
Shown below are just a few of the countless variations created during the iterative design process, as well as a handful that are found elsewhere on the website.
Rethink Robotics is pioneering the future of robotics in manufacturing and research, and it was a real joy and honor to work with their team.
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OneVision Resources is a personal technology and health concierge company. They’re well regarded in Greater Boston for their smart home design, installation, and management services. With the dizzying array of products available, they needed an elegant way to demonstrate the promise of smart home technology to their customers.
OneVision partnered with Fresh Tilled Soil to develop an interactive, fully-functional display that would allow their clients to experience and compare multiple smart home solutions. As the project’s chief designer, I facilitated discovery and ideation exercises, mapped the company’s objectives and users’ needs, and led the iterative design process.
As consultants, every project is a crash course in a brand new area of expertise. I dove head first into smart home technology, learning the capabilities, quirks, and caveats of dozens of devices. Despite the sheer number of components, the display needed to feel approachable—like part of a home, not Best Buy. We printed photos of the devices at scale in order to mock up countless layouts and configurations. Though the final design was perfected in software, physically prototyping the wall was crucial to reaching the best solution.
The final display is divided into four areas, each dedicated to an experience: climate, entry, lighting, and entertainment & control. The entertainment & control devices show up twice in order to simulate using control panels from across the house, as well as to accommodate a technical limitation: intercom interference.
The wall was recently completed and installed in OneVision’s downtown Boston office. Clients are guided along the wall, encouraged to interact with each area. The OneVision team explains the devices’ features, benefits, and tradeoffs. The wall has succeeded in clarifying technology’s many complexities and proven an effective tool in deepening client engagement. To hear OneVision’s take on the story, be sure to check out their excellent behind the scenes post.
Photo credit: Images of the final wall courtesy of OneVision
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The team at MoveableCode saw an opportunity: technology could enable new directions in storytelling and gaming, using the virtual to connect us with our physical world like never before. The result was Incantor, an innovative mobile game that sought to make magic real. Along with my colleagues at Fresh Tilled Soil, I helped to refine and design the game, from its mechanics and mythology to its unique visual language.
After nearly ten years of working in the fast paced, ephemeral realm of online experiences, we at Fresh Tilled Soil decided to stop, think, and get some ink on our hands. The result was Fold, the company's first-ever print publication. In addition to design and editorial contributions, I illustrated nine portraits for a feature story on leadership in the digital design industry.
The Roberts Collection is a set of inns set in the heart of beautiful, historic Nantucket. When Fresh Tilled Soil created a new website for the inns in 2013, I created an illustrated map to represent the once disparate buildings as a cohesive group. The Gate House, as well as the courtyard before it, was under construction during our engagement, and was thus rendered from blueprints and in-progress snapshots. In addition to the full color map, I produced four additional images (each highlighting a single building) for the inns' individual information pages.
More Illustration Projects
Since I joined Fresh Tilled Soil in 2012, the company has known four offices: two headquarters and two satellites. It's been my joy to illustrate them all for our website, to capture the architectural spirit of each environment. From brick-and-beam New England mills to downtown San Francisco, they presented unique challenges and opportunities.
IdeaPaint transforms regular walls into expansive dry erase boards. Their team came to Fresh Tilled Soil to interview our CEO and capture my colleague Jenna Bantjes and I collaborating together on one of our office's many IdeaPaint walls. The result is a great video on the importance of space in creative thinking.
On October 1, 2013, Fresh Tilled Soil held its first annual UX Fest. The event brought together Boston's UX community to explore how every aspect of a business–from design and technology to marketing and strategy–contributes to the user experience. I was proud to help conceive of and organize the event, as well as to lead a session with Matias Corea of Behance.
On the eve of the 2012 presidential election, Fresh Tilled Soil and Design Museum Boston hosted a portfolio review night for Boston's creative community. We were joined by hundreds of others across the globe, all participating in a portfolio review week coordinated by Behance. Dozens of creatives across a multitude of disciplines gathered together to share their work and learn from their peers.