The following framework has proven effective for rapid decision making, managing risk and widening the range of contexts where our teams are comfortable operating. It draws on running street research in locales such as Afghanistan, Brazil, China, Iran, Myanmar and Nigeria — and is suitable for street interactions in moderate to high risk environments where there is the possibility of arrest, detention, requests for bribes, and entanglement in red tape. In a future issue I’ll cover our approach to operating in more complex environments that include the risk of surveillance, kidnap, and death.

This article first appeared on Radar —…

This is our sixth year of operation.
Most of our work is, and will remain confidential.

Sometimes the best thing to do is flip over the table and start over.

The top line is this: Studio D is humming along nicely — a clear continuation of the trajectories of 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. So clear in fact that it would be churlish to recap it here. So instead of beautiful-photos and inspiring stories in this EoYR I’ll share a bit about the strategy behind the studio identity and logo.

What’s in our DNA?

Our teams spend a lot of time on…

Pleased to announce a new research publication, a foundational research project on the sesame ecosystem in Myanmar—When It Rains, It Pours, commissioned by our friends at Proximity Designs.

The hardback report is the result of ten researchers/designers/subject matter experts (seven Proximity + three Studio D) working pretty much flat out for seven weeks, followed by a week of concepting in Yangon, with a Studio D team of six producing the book, with a dialled in design by director Tom Manning.

I’ve been working on a side project with fellow Japan-based designers James Gibson and Eko Hayashi. It all started with a visit to a chopstick factory in Yoshino, Nara.

In a hurry? Just visit

Want the backstory? Read on…

Every year billions of disposable chopsticks in Japan are thrown away after a single meal. While 99% of these are imported from China, the remaining 1% percent are manufactured in Japan using upcycled premium wood from the construction industry.

Studio D is pleased to announce The Little Book Of Fixers, a guide to building out trusted local teams, anywhere in the world. Available from Studio D and Amazon.

The team at Studio D has been running international projects for well over a decade. The diversity of our client mandates, geographies in which we operate and communities we engage have helped us develop a unique set of skills and protocols to travel anywhere, make sense of the world and make a difference.

What we do and why, and what’s on the horizon.

Studio D is a design, research and strategy consultancy based out of San Francisco. We specialise in getting teams on the ground, anywhere in the world, figuring what is going on through ethnographic research and applying what we learn to make an impact.

Most of our work is, and will remain confidential.

This is our fifth year in operation.


2018 has been both exhilarating and humbling. It included many memorable moments, from negotiating checkpoints in the Beqaa Valley, immersing clients in the sensemaking process in our Marin popup studio…

OK, so it didn’t all go to plan.

Studio D recently completed an expedition to Tajikistan and the Borderlands with Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and China. It didn’t go quite to plan.

The Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) of Tajikistan literally sits at the roof of the world, with scattered high-altitude communities that exist at the very edge-of and beyond the grid. It is a seductive environment for anyone that is interested in learning about resilience, Central Asian cultures, geo-politics and their own limits.

Drone footage of the Tajikistan/Afghanistan Borderlands

The goal of the expedition was to prepare the team for a three-day…

Studio D just wrapped up a three-and-a-half-month project for a San Francisco based client. It included an unexpected lesson.

Our team of eight, alongside the client, worked across three continents — including the last two weeks holed up in a house in Mill Valley surrounded by tall pines, where we built our data models, frameworks and prioritized findings. Our popup studio setup is designed to provide the client stakeholders with the mental space for data-wall walkthroughs and home cooked meals — not just aligning to the deliverables — but exposed to the intent behind the process. …

Studio D is a design, research and strategy consultancy with offices in San Francisco and Tokyo. We specialise in getting teams on the ground, anywhere in the world, figuring what is going on and applying what we learn to make an impact.

Most of our work is, and will remain confidential.

This is our fourth year in operation.

We freely admit to this being an experiment to see how far we can push our ability to deliver world class results with minimal infrastructure. …

Sichuan Retreat views. Photo: Dan Rubin.

Usually when I run a project the team is picked with an eye to complimentary personalities and skillsets. With Field / Sichuan, the first of this year’s retreats that just completed, sign-up was open — I didn’t quite know what to expect. Who would attend? Would they get along?

Most of the three days is planned to deliver the fundamentals of field research, with time in the afternoons for hiking and important stuff like figuring out which of the free-range chickens to put in the pot, and watching Mr Dong’s neighbour making fresh tofu. …

Jan Chipchase

Founder, Studio D Radiodurans. Writing at the intersection of design, human behaviour & culture @janchip

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