Liz Seibert Turow and Leigh Mignogna in their Brooklyn studio. Photo by @kelseyannrose.
Choosing a design partner is not easy. When it comes to aesthetics, everyone has an opinion on what looks best, but clearly conveying a community and its goals visually takes a lot of skill. L+L, a women-owned design firm, has just that skill. Karp Strategies was lucky enough to work with L+L on a project for Cooper Robertson, Return to the Riverbend, a riverfront master plan for Middletown, Connecticut. It was L+L’s campaign identity that set the look and feel of the engagement materials and final plan.
L+L is a multi-disciplinary design studio started in 2015. But their story stretches back to when L+L wasn’t the name of a studio; it was just shorthand for Liz and Leigh, two graduate students completing their coursework at Pratt Institute. As the pair drew closer to earning their degrees and worked the requisite hours together in a studio, they began to consider creating their own firm. Although both designers had existing positions, they each slowly extricated themselves to start L+L.
Today the firm has grown to four employees, with Liz and Leigh each brainstorming, reviewing every project, and bouncing ideas off one another to prevent the type of self-reinforcing feedback that comes from working alone. They view themselves as communicators and translators who help their clients by taking complex ideas and content—and finding a way to visually explain it to their audience. Far beyond artistry, the pair reach out to stakeholders and community members to ensure that their work correctly reflects the communities their deliverables represent and inform.
The duo enjoys tackling diverse projects, from brand and product strategy to user experience and interactive design and everything in between. Still, Liz and Leigh were particularly eager to work with civic design and urban planning organizations. Through The Center for Urban Pedagogy’s (CUP) Public Access Design fellowship—where they made this guide to help people who’d been arrested retrieve their belongings—they gained confidence in their ability to partner with other subject matter experts and realized an interest in working alongside similarly impactful organizations. Soon, they had expanded their work to other socially minded projects, from an online knowledge repository for Code for America to the design of a full brand system for the civic tech nonprofit JustFix.
Get it Back guide created for the Center for Urban Pedagogy.
Creating Middletown, Connecticut’s Riverfront Master Plan
In June 2021, the City of Middletown, Connecticut, selected a consultant team led by Cooper Robertson (and supported by Karp Strategies and Langan) to help create a riverfront master plan. From the start, the City saw this undertaking as an exciting opportunity to reverse the impacts of urban renewal, support forward-thinking economic growth, and build a new waterfront grounded in the goals and needs of local Middletown stakeholders. To inform the plan, Karp Strategies led a market analysis, economic development analysis and strategy, and thorough community engagement.
L+L created a set of brand guidelines and design templates to clearly articulate the thoughts and feelings of the community and the future they envisioned. Cooper Robertson then took all of the analysis and input—including over 1,200 stakeholder comments—and transformed it into the beautiful and inspiring plan that exists today. The final plan reimagines a 200-acre stretch of land along the Connecticut River as vibrant and accessible new city districts with significant open spaces and a broad mix of uses. The plan includes photographs, graphics, maps, and even images of sticky note comments from community engagement meetings, all laid out in an easily digestible format.
Detail of Return to the Riverbend Master Plan.