Open Hand Studio

Our incubator for public interest design

Jamaa Birth Village
Our ongoing work with Jamaa Birth Village is helping provide equitable access to maternal care and midwife and doula services for Black women.

Social Sharing

In 2008, when we formalized our commitment to pro bono service, we did something vitally important for the pro bono movement: we gave it a name. A name not laden with design jargon, but instead comprised of two universally understandable words: open and hand. Together, they cast a striking image of CannonDesign as a provider, a partner and a recipient.

Since then, Open Hand Studio has worked as an incubator for dozens of public interest design projects. Through the studio, we take a two-pronged approach to giving back: connecting individuals to organizations that provide design services for the public good, and identifying and providing pro bono or reduced-fee services to those who would otherwise lack access to them.

Our goal isn't just to design for in-need communities. It's to empower people within these communities to directly shape solutions that have widespread and direct impact on their lives. Our approach is rooted in Living-Centered Design and a belief that the people most affected by inequity should be involved in every step of our design process.

We're proud of what Open Hand Studio has become and even more proud of the impact the organizations we've partnered with are having on their communities.

Here's a look at just a few of the projects we've been honored to lead in recent years.

Exterior Talcott
Camp Huguenot in Upstate New York had fallen into disrepair and was threatened with closure. Our team worked with the YMCA to identify low-cost, quick turnaround and high-impact interventions. A redesigned cabin of simple geometry brought immediate benefits: reduced construction cost, improved maintenance, flexible scale-up potential for future growth, and enhanced camper experiences across indoor, outdoor and transitional spaces.
Baltimore Comm Guidelines
In Baltimore, we partnered with non-profit Neighborhood Design Center to develop a series of streetscape and storefront guidelines to revitalize a section of the Pennsylvania Avenue Corridor. The guidelines provide a holistic set of placemaking strategies to enliven the corridor, increase pedestrian traffic and encourage people to continually come back.
Ladder Alliance Sucess Store Render 2
We're collaborating with The Ladder Alliance to enhance the beauty, accessibility and warmth of their Success Store—a space survivors of domestic violence can use to pick out professional career outfits.
607620 00 N7 Cdwebsite
We helped Jamaa Birth Village transform a former physician's office into an Equal Access Midwifery Clinic. We're now working with Jamaa to expand its model of care to include a birthing and postpartum retreat center for Black mothers.
05 Open Work Cafe 2
Our team designed a new space for the Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis that is welcoming, warm, playful and inspiring to the more than 2,000 individuals it serves.
Our team is helping Red Phoenix turn the abandoned Aster St Public Library into a safe space outside of school for children and young adults.
Our team is helping Red Phoenix turn the abandoned Aster St Public Library into a safe space outside of school for children and young adults.
Cca Cap1
Our team partnered with Civic Consulting Alliance to review and improve how public entities are helping neighborhoods and communities across the greater Chicago region that are most susceptible to gun violence.
Cook County Bc Rendering
We again partnered with Civic Consulting Alliance to generate a redesign of Cook County's Bond Court to better serve all parties in the equitable delivery of justice.