Posted in February 2011

New Office Space – The Final Frontier

After The Moderns’ ninth-floor office suffered a devastating, 8,000 gallon flood on October 8, 2009, Janine James, our President and Chief Creative Officer, rebranded the catastrophe The Moderns’ tsunami for change.

Janine, her partner, Kevin Szell, and we solutionists embraced the tsunami for change as an opportunity to reevaluate their own ways of thinking, working, and living.

We started by asking ourselves the daunting but unavoidable question, “Why do we even need office space?” Is it to play host to our clients? Not exactly. The price per square foot per client is too high to justify renting space. In theory, we could even work as nomads, meeting in coffee shops and each others’ apartments when necessary.

This fundamental question served as a springboard for researching the history of Manhattan office space over the past half century. The more we learned, the clearer it became: Ironically, service industry firms have been spending increasingly astronomical amounts of money to physically isolate their employees from the very world they intend to service.

Above our heads, light bulbs began to flicker. What if we eschewed the old definitions of office space altogether? What if, rather than separating ourselves from our surroundings, we designed our space as a bridge to the outside world?

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Social Venture Network (SVN)

The Moderns are thrilled to be members of Social Venture Network (SVN), a non-profit organization that connects, supports, and inspires business leaders and social entrepreneurs in expanding practices that build a just and sustainable economy.

Given that The Moderns have been at the forefront of social equity, environmental stewardship, and food justice for 20 years, we are proud to be part of SVN’s commitment to building a just and sustainable world through socially and environmentally sustainable business.

During SVN’s Fall Conference in Long Branch, NJ, our President and Chief Creative Officer, Janine James, spoke about The Moderns’ work and culture during a panel discussion entitled, “Innovation in Design.”

Most recently, we attended an event at ACA Art Galleries in Chelsea. We enjoyed the artistic breadth of nearly 80 year-old gallery, the great food and drink and, most of all, the exceptional company.

If you’re an SVN member interested in partnering with The Moderns please don’t hesitate to reach out. We always love…

And, if you’re interested in SVN and would like an introduction to the organization we’d be happy to connect likeminded people to build a more beautiful world.

Eat Your Heart Out


As is the case with many Western holidays, the origins of Valentine’s Day can be traced to a raucous and hilarious pagan festival that sounds much more fun to celebrate than its modern decedent.

During Roman times, citizens celebrated Lupercalia – the festival of the shepherd god, Lupercus – from February 13 to 15 by sacrificing goats and watching as priests ran around striking women with thongs made of goatskin, ensuring their fertility through the coming year. In Latin, these thongs are called februa, which gave rise to the name of the year’s second month, February.

While we’re not really on board with sacrificing a goat (at least this year), we do appreciate the spirit of the ensuing shindig. Don’t get us wrong. We’re nothing if not pro-love, pro-flowers, and pro-chocolate – especially raw chocolate. We just think that this year’s Valentine’s Day could use a little Lupercalia.

So, go a little crazy tonight. Dance a bit wilder. Maybe even invite Bacchus to the party.

Be creative and, dare we suggest, Imagine the Next™ this Valentine’s Day.

Imagine the Next with Adrienne Leban

During our latest Imagine the Next™ Friday, visual artist, social activist, long-time SVA design professor, and founder of Lifework Studio, Adrienne Leban, spoke to The Moderns and our guests about number of topics, ranging from her teaching philosophy to her social activism to her personal career and portfolio.

Perhaps the most important takeaway from the event was that while it’s particularly difficult to divorce oneself from the type of work that pays the bills, we should all give ourselves permission to spend time fostering our personal creativity in order to make both our work and personal lives more fulfilling. We solutionists agree wholeheartedly – nothing could be more in the spirit Imagine the Next™ Fridays.

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AIGA’s Compostmodern

Janine James, The Moderns’ President and Chief Creative Officer, was a main-stage speaker at AIGA’s biennial Compostmodern Conference. Janine spoke about The Moderns multidisciplinary culture and values in her presentation, entitled “Living an Inspired Life,” which was later picked up by TreeHugger. Likewise, The Moderns’ work for Berry+ has recently been featured on several popular media sites including TrendHunter, The Die Line, Lovely Package , Inhabitat, and The Miami Herald.

For twenty years, Janine and The Moderns have been thought leaders in the realms of environmental, social, and economic innovation. As each of these movements evolved, we helped our clients understand that while PR and ad campaigns have their place in promoting environmental, social, and economic causes, the only way to truly evolve their brand cultures to changing realities is through innovation.

In short, competing in this rapidly changing world requires new ways of thinking & new ideas that lead to completely different ways of valuing, organizing, and measuring our work. This is why it is our firm belief that paradigm-shifting innovation is the most important ingredient to success in the new knowledge economy.

Under Janine’s leadership, The Moderns’ work has brought success to some of the world’s most influential and innovative brands, among them American Express, Planned Parenthood, Aveda, France Telecom, Sundance, Knoll Textiles and Shaw Industries. Our portfolio speaks volumesabout our award-winning solutions that build brand cultures, helping our clients spawn communities of loyal customers and ultimately grow their businesses.