We’re a brand, design and web consultancy which lives chiefly in the ether but also, bodily, in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. We work with mission-driven companies, non-profits, social entrepreneurs, and hybrid businesses who are passionately putting good stuff into the world and saying no to junk.
We do both ideas and implementation. Beautiful and useful. Art and science, learning and teaching, past wisdom and unbridled futurism. We like how dichotomies are often smarter than black and white choices.
Annie (happily geeking out) at the neolithic excavation Skara Brae on the island of Orkney, Scotland.
Who is this “we” of whom you speak?
I’m the head of the “we” — Annie Smidt. I’m the owner, creative director, idea-wrangler, designer, writer, and maker at Durable. It’s really mostly me, not “we” (except when you’re around), but I do bring other smart cookies onto the team when it makes sense. And there’s something weird about referring to an entity with a name as “I” — so please pardon my pronoun flip-flopping.
Where I’ve been and what I’ve gotten up to
I’ve been working in this field since the mid-90s. I had different glasses then. I’m not sure if that’s a metaphor or not.
Before that, before I became a bona fide “professional designer” I spent several years as an amateur, making zines and artist’s books and generally going round getting excited about typography and printed, designed stuff and calling myself a publishing concern. My educational background, though that was eons ago, is in fine art and art history.
I’ve been around the block (well, several blocks) in the design industry, working with everyone from corporate behemoths to agencies to non-profits to sole proprietorships. I spent a significant amount of time as a designer at, and eventually as the owner of the boutique Boston design firm Seltzer, where our focus was on creating high-end designed materials for companies selling complex, high-touch services.
I started Durable Creative in the early 2010s to pursue my interest in working with organizations and companies doing “good”. Not in some hokey, froo-froo sense — but in a real effort to align my every day work with my ethics, and out of a real frustration with the state of social justice issues and the de-emphasis of art and culture in favor of greedy capitalism. Of course, the situation in said realms has become suddenly and aggressively dire as of 2017, and I’m redoubling my efforts to work with organizations in culture and human rights to help empower their messages and initiatives through design.
Durable is purposely small and nimble. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about business models (I used to work with startups quite a bit and was more actively involved in the entrepreneurship ecosystem) and I totally reject the idea of businesses drably trucking along with the received wisdom rather than inventing new models that work for them (and maybe disrupt some dodgy systems). I’m always thinking and innovating when it comes to how I “do business”. I care that my clients receive the value they deserve from our engagements with no-surprises pricing that is and fair (to them and me). I care about communication and clarity. And professionalism — that exists side-by-side with what I hope is a refreshingly casual, approachable, down-to-earth way of operating.
Beyond design and related geekery, I’m also into using notebooks to stay organized and encourage mindful work/life balance, striving for simplicity and sustainability, cultural history, art history (including the decorative arts), photography (especially with peculiar hand-built analog cameras), the Arctic and the Antarctic, animals (ok, I am a bit obsessed), drawing, painting, and occasional metalsmithing, odd travel projects, the history of language, Vietnamese fresh rolls with tofu, genealogy, learning and teaching, science, photographing and painting chickens, William Morris and the Victorian Arts & Crafts Movement, period films, stodgy novels, non-stodgy novels, weirdly-specific non-fiction, loud Scottish indie rock bands, a million other sorts of music, and soy lattes.
This is Mr. Sheep. He is in charge.
About the photos on this site
All of the photos were shot by me (Annie) and they’re all digital, shot on either a Canon 70D or Fuji X-A3.
- On the home page is a school of amazing transparent jellyfish in the aqua-blue Kenai Fjords in Alaska.
- On the work page is a close up of the names of artists included in the beautiful murals in the McKim building at the Boston Public Library. The third largest library in the US, the BPL was intended to be a “palace for the people” filled with art and books when it was organized in the mid-19th century — and it truly is, still today.
- On the offerings page, is some old plumbing and a deteriorating painted wall in the 19th century Pacific Mills building in Lawrence, Massachusetts (before it was renovated and was still largely disused). This mill complex is part of a fascinating history of industrial revolution innovation and the consequent rise of the labor movement in response to what the industrial revolution wrought. The 1912 “Bread and Roses” strike began a few blocks from this mill, and Pacific Mills workers were participants — eventually winning the rights to slightly more humane working conditions and setting a precent for tipping power balances.
- On this page are the gardens at the Smithsonian in Washington DC. How can you not love a garden with a Great Auk sculpture (not pictured)?
- On the history orgs pages is a public domain scan, courtesy of the British Library of page 82 of ‘Handbook to the Orkney Islands. With illustrations [and a map]’ from 1882.
Sound interesting? Have a question? Need help? Get in touch, we’ll grab a (real or virtual) coffee and chat!