Studio D specialises in research that requires a nuanced understanding of what is happening on the ground. We are comfortable operating in dense-urban to edge-of-grid.

In 2016 our field research projects have been applied to design, strategy, brand, public policy and community engagement. We've run popup studios and design sprints across the globe, working with our talented local and international teams. Most of our work is, and will remain confidential.

Attracting and retaining talent is not rocket science: interesting projects, a respectful working environment and a willingness to question the status quo. We have now hired over a hundred people onto projects since our founding in 2014. Our core team has home-bases in San Francisco, London and Tokyo. 

Out there

While Studio D does take on projects for non-profit organisations, the majority of our work is commercial.

To give you a sense of how a project considers the macro view and micro details, (re-) read 61 Glimpses Of The Future, the result of a 7,000km overland trip that spanned Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and China’s western provinces. 

This year we published a number of foundational research reports including Isa Pa EcoCash on mobile money adoption in Zimbabwe. It's a good example of a project that required an experienced team and a nuanced appreciation of the political swirl happening on the ground. It also revealed the distortions between official quant data and what was happening on the ground. 

As always, we are only as good as our local team - our thanks go to our Zimbabwe crew Pamela, Cynthia and Justice. If you enjoyed this, read the sister report Always Moving, Always Sharing on mobile money in Somaliland.

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With our partner Proximity Designs we published Paddy To Plate, a comprehensive exploration of the rice ecosystem in Myanmar. Given the role that rice plays in Myanmar, its become a must-read for anyone developing mass-market services in that country.

Studio D's projects for Saudi Operator STC, contributed to the launch this year of Jawwy a new youth-focussed service offering. Read the background to the project here.

This year we expanded our service offering to build out the research, design and prototyping capabilities with a number of our clients. These engagements start with a hands-on project, typically in-field, where we assess in-house skills, and are followed up with defining specifications and helping them attract the right talent. 

Behind the scenes at the studio: Field Notes 

Instagram: @studiodradidurans@janchip

Twitter: @studio_d_rad, @janchip

The future of qualitative research

We're often asked what role qualitative research has to play in an age of data analytics and machine learning. 

The long answer is an essay in itself.

The short answer is that more data requires more nuanced questions and better analysis. Today, more than ever, organisations that generate huge volumes of data, understand the value of contextual understanding, perspective, empathy and the ability of experienced practitioners to turn insight into impact.

A good qualitative researcher knows how to work with practitioners in other data gathering fields and extends her skill set to some of those tools. Recognise that insights are mere table stakes. The value to the organisation comes from how they are applied. 

The Field Study Handbook

The Handbook is now written and proofed. Lee John Phillips has been brought onboard for his exquisite technical illustrations. The book covers every aspect of running exemplary field research from the opening pitch to making an optimal impact and reveals the nuances that take projects from good to great.

The Handbook will be launched in June 2017.

We have some special things planned for the launch. To be the first to know when they go on sale, sign up here

 
 
 

SDR Traveller

Our premium utility luggage brand continues to grow — we doubled our sales from last year, not that growth is a priority. It’s been enjoyable to watch people embrace the brand and what it stands for: ultra light, strong and very discreet luggage and accessories. As with our operational style at Studio D, we strip products down to their very essence.

The SDR Traveller product line-up is driven by the needs of studio projects and are extensively tested in field. This year we launched the D3 Raw, the Field Kit Berbera and two new bike products, the Expedition Tool Roll and Courier 60. We prefer to traverse cities on two wheels and after all, this city is for riding.

All of our products come into their own after at least six months of use, and as we enter our third year since launch it is gratifying to hear back from our customers and their extensive travels. To give you a sense of how we think about travel, read The Psychology Of Packing; and On Crossing Borders. A good border crossing will hold up a mirror to your soul.

Instagram: @sdrtraveller

Supply

When we’re not on the road we’re working on new designs, planning projects and expeditions. We launched a new Studio D line, Supply for exquisite products that are a joy to use.

This year, for our first Supply product, we collaborated with Tokyo based print union, Inkaren to make the No. 8 Journal. In a fast-paced world, we all need an off-line tool for reflection. It can be bought as is or as part of the Field Kit Journal, that also includes some of our favourite Japanese stationary products.

Supply is available through SDR Traveller.

Expect curious, focussed, delightful things in 2017. 

 
 

cultural

The most rewarding aspect of starting one’s own studio is connecting people who share similar values. Our tribe is culturally diverse, geographically dispersed, uniquely skilled and inherently curious about the world out there. 

What can you expect from us next?

Every year starts with a blank page.

We can achieve anything we put our minds to.

The only question is what we want to achieve.

Studio D runs projects that challenge minds and flutter hearts. 

To our clients, extended team and friends new and old, we look forward to seeing you in 2017.

Keiko Mori

Creative Director, Studio D 

Jan Chipchase

Founder, Studio D

 


Read our 2014 and 2015 reports.

Photos: Jan Chipchase & Cara Silver including Afghanistan, China, Japan,  Kyrgisztan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Tibet and Zimbabwe.