Desk Lunch started as a project with a friend when we noticed a gap in the market for a platform that uplifts the stories of creatives of marginalized genders. Tired of seeing the same names gracing the covers of trade publications, headlining conferences, and appearing on podcasts, we decided to make a community that had intersectionality, diversity, and accessibility baked into its ethos from the beginning.
Knowing we could never adequately speak to the full range of issues faced by different marginalized communities, we decided to start a newsletter that would feature an essay from a different contributor every week.
Using 16:9 video, 360° video and ambisonic audio, users were able to partake in experiences the average park visitor never gets to see. We shot from helicopters, mountain tops, horseback, and underwater, resulting in over eleven terabytes of footage gathered over twenty-six days and 18,949 miles, edited down to a final experience of twenty-five minutes.
In May 2019, after a year and a half of lunches, we made some major updates to our brand. The first was a new tagline:
Desk Lunch is a community for all creative people of marginalized gender.
We updated the language from our previous positioning:
Desk Lunch is a weekly newsletter for all creative women and non-binary folks.
It's important for projects like ours to change and grow as our community does. We're listening to and learning from what folks in our community are saying, which is why we updated our tagline to be more inclusive of the full gender spectrum and everyone who makes Desk Lunch so very special.
To keep our community and the stories we share as accessible as possible, we chose to make Desk Lunch a newsletter sent every week via email to whomever subscribes. In the last year, we also started to roll out Desk Lunch IRL, live events which are recorded and published as issues for the rest of the community to enjoy.
Currently, Desk Lunch releases a new issue every Wednesday morning at 11AM EST. We have had contributors such as Milan Moffat, Carly Ayres, Borrowed Interest Podcast, Juliana Castro, Lydia White, Sabrina Hall, Omayeli Arenyeka, and Carolyn Zhang. Issues have we’ve tackled have ranged from being non-binary in the workplace, commodifying your own culture, a love letter to friendship, confronting injusctices in shared spaces, and supporting others at work.
As the Design Director of this project, I wanted to create a system that broke away from the millennial pink aesthetic that is common and expected in this category. It was important that Desk Lunch didn’t blend into the mix of “projects for women by women.” As an initiative that champions and celebrates diversity and the full gender spectrum, I wanted our style to stand out as a unique offering.
Another aspect I had to keep in mind during this phase was how would this system work with a variety of articles and topics. I knew we needed to have an expansive color palette, type system, and imagery that would be flexible and easily replicable on a weekly basis.
When we first launched in 2018, I created a palette using bold, warm colors and with a dark blue for balance. For added flexibility, I incorporated secondary colors that are less saturated versions of the primary palette. When creating the wordmark, I wanted a gender neutral typeface that highlights the community’s inclusive nature, ultimately choosing Univers for its versatility.
After a year and a half of issues under our belt, in conjunction with our new tagline and mission, I rebranded our visual world to better reflect the community. The inclusion of softer typography balances out the hard san-serif, so I added Ogg and GT America to the family. I also expanded our color palette based on the most frequently used colors from our first brand system, and added many more to create a wider palette to reflect our expanding community and their identities.
Since Desk Lunch is a weekly newsletter, I knew I could not make custom visuals for each issue. To ensure an overall visual language that reflects both our brand and the issue content, I pull public domain images from the art world that match the tone of the essays in each issue. The art world is where our industry stems from, and where many people in the creative industry first get inspired to pursue this field.