Goodbye 2019,
Hello 2020.

Year over year, we work with wonderful new clients and develop deeper partnerships with existing ones. We welcome new teammates and wish a few old ones the best in new adventures. Together, we discover ideas, explore concepts, create value, and refine methods. 

Each year at AREA 17 seems like a seminal year, but 2019 felt quite unique. It was a time of reflection, reaffirmation, and growth – pushing the boundaries of our craft, broadening the horizons of our impact, and expanding the breadth of our soul.

After such a galvanizing year, and as we enter a new one with clarity of vision (shall we say 20/20 vision), we are genuinely excited to see what the new decade beholds. For posterity’s sake, let’s take a quick look back at 2019.


Year of the design system

Let’s start off by saying that 2019 was the year that design systems came to fruition. For nearly two decades, we’ve been creating design systems for large digital ecosystems, but the right tools and technologies were not yet available. So we adapted the best we could.

The times, they are a changing.

Tools now solve the key challenges of making and delivering design systems. Technologies can achieve an abstraction of the presentation and the functional layer. Methodologies have matured to the point where we enjoy a genuine collaboration between all disciplines.

Ds Illustration

Recent advancements have substantially enhanced our work product. Today, we can more effectively and efficiently deliver world-class experiences that are performant, resilient, and sustainable.

– Kemp Attwood, Founding Partner, CCO at AREA 17

Before the holiday break, we alpha-launched the first phase of the new Getty website. To ensure design integrity within an iterative process, we developed the design system as a stand-alone micro-service consumed by the web application.

In lockstep with Accor, we created their new core UI library. Using an atomic approach, the system was reduced to just 50 atoms and molecules utilized across hundreds of organisms that span millions of views across all channels. Used by dozens of designers and engineers, the UI library is AA accessibility compliant, version-controlled, and thoroughly documented. in progress

AREA 17 did an amazing job helping us to reinvent our digital experience. We are very proud to work with them.

– Soumia Hadjali, SVP of Product at Accor

We started our partnership with the New York Times by establishing a highly modular design system for one of their digital properties in 2018. Since then, we have continued our close collaboration to relaunch two of their internal platforms.

Our journey into open source

Open source has always played a significant role in the work we do, and we’ve committed ourselves to contribute more to the community and the industry to which we’ve dedicated ourselves to. In the past year, we’ve had the great opportunity to think beyond the agency boundaries through our official release of Twill, an open source CMS toolkit for Laravel. 

While Twill went public last year, we’ve been using its core for many years. Now, other agencies and developers around the world are adopting Twill as their CMS of choice. By building a global community with a vested interest, we’ve been able to improve the solution faster and more effectively.

  • 1.8K Github stars
  • 2K Commits
  • 35 Contributors

Fun fact
While Twill has 35 direct contributors, with its PHP and Javascript dependencies, indirectly, it has more than 100K. That’s the power of the community! 

Alongside hundreds of developers and agencies around the world, this past year, we launched quite a few websites #MadeWithTwill.

Using Twill as a central publishing platform, the International Energy Agency serves up data and analysis across all fuels and countries and an API-driven chart library with hundreds of reusable charts.

As part of an organization-wide digital transformation initiative, our continuing collaboration has included brand and digital strategy, visual identity, product design, and development. 

Rethinking content strategy and modularity, from the roots to the tree. The new CMS for Aspen Ideas Festival includes an advanced iteration of the Twill block editor with a content library for reusing blocks across the entire site – allowing admins to craft narratives across content types with ease and efficiency.

The AREA 17 team transformed our website and it started with astute questions and thoughtful listening. Their skill at minding the details is unparalleled. The rest is equal parts creativity, problem-solving, and professionalism.

– Tricia Johnson, Director of Communication Strategy at Aspen Ideas Festival

Man-made disaster is a digital exhibition of 30 women and nonbinary artists, based on an analog show in London. The project was created by Do the Green Thing, a climate-activist nonprofit run by Pentagram partner Naresh Ramchandani.

The digital version simulates the serendipitous exploration of wandering around a live exhibition space while juxtaposing artists and their work next to facts about patriarchy and climate change.

Salon des Entrepreneurs now has a new multi-tenant platform that enriches the presentation of their program while making it easy to deploy and manage various exhibition sites using Twill.

We continued our ongoing partnership with the Art Institute of Chicago by extending their Twill CMS to include a robust, modular storytelling tool for use in-museum and on the website.

TNBC Foundation was able to quickly launch their new site with a full-featured CMS, helping them to raise awareness and support their research of triple-negative breast cancer. 

With support for 32 languages, more than 50 content types, and custom CMS user roles and permissions, a large organization (which shall not be named) had leveraged Twill to its most considerable extent yet. 

It's been satisfying to see how our staff quickly adapted to the entire toolkit of the website – design language, engineering, publishing tools. Twill, in particular, is an enormous step forward, and I know our content creators have been thrilled with its functionality.

– Michael Neault, Executive Creative Director, Art Institute of Chicago


Evolution of the agency model

In recent years, as organizations built internal product teams, many claimed the agency model dead. As we pondered our impending demise, the only real change we felt is a greater desire for a more profound long-term relationship. 

Today, clients are looking for genuine collaboration with an agency partner – to question, to affirm, to fortify, to give perspective. Moreover, they are looking to buy results, not services. We feel the same.

We see ourselves as artists to a productive end. While our client partnerships are rooted in craftsmanship, grappling with—and achieving—their strategic outcome is what compels us.

The new brand and website reflect the IEA’s ambition to make a difference in one of our biggest collective challenges: balancing the planet’s growing energy needs with the threat of climate change. I am convinced this site will help us move towards this goal.

– Jad Mouawad, Head of Communications & Digital at International Energy Agency (IEA)

Strategic consulting has always been a meaningful part of our offering. Now we see our advisory role grow to the significance of the craft we've been known for. As the function of our agency evolves, the way we deliver our work is being transformed.

  • 121 Workshops
  • 183 Sprints
  • 19 Road trips
  • 47 Markers replaced

What started as a small mission to redesign specific user journeys for CELINE, grew into an ongoing engagement using a sprint-based model to evolve the site iteratively. in progress

We lead the transformation of the Princeton University Press site from a communication-focused site to a service delivery platform. With an expertly curated selection of books, ideas, and stakeholder resources, the aim is to celebrate ‘the book,’ making each a hub that integrates contextual and related content, audio previews, and interior PDFs. Books and authors are woven into a broader context that includes content-rich subject matter hubs, collections, and series.

We are incredibly fortunate to have our website story, and new chapter in our historic narrative, guided by the creative expertise of AREA 17. They have taken the proverbial blank digital page and animated it with an elegance that surpassed our expectations.

– Christie Henry, Director, Princeton University Press

In 2018, we started our collaboration with Clinique with the redesign of their e-commerce website. Ever since, our partnership has expanded beyond the site and into apps and other initiatives. We’ve been collaborating within a sprint-based model rooted in business goals and iterative feedback.

After completing the redesign of the New England Journal of Medicine site in 2018, we continued our work together in 2019 to redesign their NEJM Catalyst site. The site brings health care executives, clinical leaders, and clinicians together to share innovative ideas and practical applications for enhancing the value of health care delivery. We were able to repurpose the design system we created for their flagship site while creating a unique look and feel for the Catalyst site. 

We have been working with Le Parisien since 2017, starting with a single sprint to solve three problematics. Since we’ve been entrusted with the complete redesign of their three sites, which also include Le Parisien Etudiant and La Parisienne.

Our relationship with Zappos began with a project for their fashion-forward site, The Style Room. From there, we were brought on to completely rethink and redesign the Zappos Kids site. Currently, we’re collaborating with their team to reimagine their content management platform to be more intuitive and user-friendly for all of the units within the company who use it regularly.

There are agencies we work with and others we like to work with – AREA 17 is one of the latter. Their team quickly understood our challenges and throughout our collaboration, they were able to respond boldly to them.

– Aude Thomas-Criton, Marketing & Digital Director, Salon des Entrepreneurs

Think Global Health is a new platform that explores why global health matters and how it is reshaping economies, societies, and the everyday lives of people around the globe.

As part of our continued partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations, we are thrilled to enable nonpartisan conversation on the most salient policy and governance issues of the day. 

Going beyond being a communication platform, the Precision Run web and mobile app for Equinox is an integral part of the program.

It seamlessly integrates with its precision software that is at the center of the Precision Run experience – from learning about the method to booking a class with the right coach, to analyzing performance data or sharing on social media.

Our partnership with The New School began in 2016 with the release of their main site and has continued consecutively since. 2019, in particular, was a banner year with the site launches for Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, the Schools of Public Engagement, and the start of Parsons School of Design.

The culmination of a long-standing partnership, the New York Road Runners redesign transformed a race-focused desktop experience into a feature-packed responsive site for events, training, volunteering, running, and more – serving the entire NYRR community and reflecting the company’s mission. Beyond merely finding relevant information, users can quickly sign up for a race, find a coach, participate in virtual training, interact with other members of the community, and more. 


Growing our soul, not only our size

We've always aimed to be a human-sized company. While we've only increased by an average of four new people per year, over our seventeen-year lifespan, we've become a sizable organization. The question has become not whether we should grow, nor what size we should increase to, but rather, how do we expand without compromising our mission and culture?

Large agencies are often known to make profits off 'money projects' and reward teams with 'mission projects.' We've built our business by partnering with mission-aligned clients and creating an operating model that serves them and us. Our working environment is designed for people—clients and teams alike—to do great work and live great lives.

2019 proved to us that by reinforcing our mission and culture—without compromise—we can expand in size and soul. There is still much to be done, but we're proud of what we've become and where we’re going.

  • 46 New Yorkers
  • 23 Parisians
  • 19 New teammates
  • 18 Nationalities
Team Lg 01 01
Team Lg 01 02
Team Lg 01 03
Team Lg 01 04
Team Md 01 01
Team Md 01 02
Team Md 01 03
Team Md 01 04
Team Md 02 01
Team Md 02 02
Team Md 02 03
Team Md 02 04
Team Lg 02 01
Team Lg 02 02
Team Lg 02 03
Team Lg 02 04

It takes a tribe

Balancing collectivism with individualism, rigorous craft with fiduciary responsibility, modernist design with engineering mastery, and ultimately, great work with a great life.

It takes a tribe to run a business, let alone appointing people to help lead and grow it – especially people that are aligned with our vision, compelled by our mission, and inspired by our culture.

While our agency always leaned towards seniority and mastery, 2019 proved to be a notable milestone for our agency’s leadership.

  • 15 Seniors
  • 18 Directors
  • 2 Managing Directors
  • 3 Partners
Yir Portrait H

It is a distinct pleasure to share the news that in 2019 Hannah Kreiswirth became a partner alongside George Eid and Kemp Attwood.

Hannah is a champion of our vision, a custodian of our culture, and a catalyst for our soulful growth. Her focus, talent, and clarity of vision have helped us further actualize our mission, and her humility, tenderness, and empathy have made her a cherished collaborator

Bringing on a new partner is a big deal, especially for a mission-driven company such as ours. Hannah’s contributions have made her invaluable, and I’m delighted to recognize her as my partner.

– George Eid, Founder, CEO at AREA 17
Yir Portrait A

2019 is also the year that Alexandre Bommelaer became the Managing Director of our Paris studio. For the last 8 years, Alex has led many of the agency's most seminal client engagements.

Yir Portrait M

On the heels of Alex assuming this position in Paris, we welcomed Mark Jarecke as Managing Director of our New York studio. Mark comes with 25 years of experience, seven of them running his own agency.

Now, we are excited to have Alex and Mark apply their interdisciplinary expertise and business prowess to their respective studios and our agency as a whole as we grow and improve ourselves to better serve our team, clients, and the industry at large.

Enriching lives

We aim to make the Internet an enrichment of our lives, not a distraction from it. Yet, to get our digital work done, we sit in physical isolation in front of a computer.

In recent years, we stepped away from our siloed devices, and a wonderfully human thing happened – we became inspired by the people around us.

More conversations, less email.
More listening, less documentation.
More user contact, less user 'demographics.'
More fieldwork, less web browsing.

By making our work environment more human, we were able to make our work product more human. We envision a future where organizations that enrich lives are the ones that thrive. And by making the cultural shifts necessary to put people first, that vision seems a whole lot more attainable.

We aim to be an organization that enriches lives through our work and culture. Every day we make decisions to do this by focusing our business practices around the shared values of our core users: our team.

– Hannah Kreiswirth, Partner, COO at AREA 17

Parallel to the work itself, we spend much time with one another, sharing the biggest news of our lives alongside the minutiae of lunchtime conversations. Engaged with the broader industry, we listen and share at conferences and invite inspiring minds to share their ideas within our walls. 

  • 6 Married & engaged
  • 4 Babies born
  • 33 Team talks & events
  • 251 Team lunches

This year, we hope to see you around at conferences and events, and even joining us for a lunch or two in Paris or New York. 

In the meantime, from ours to yours...