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Combining the Left and Right Brain with L+R’s Alex Levin


The design and mobile technology studio and web3 strategy consultancy’s co-founder speaks to LBB’s Ben Conway about the company’s history, 2023 plans and more

Combining the Left and Right Brain with L+R’s Alex Levin

Alex Levin is a business strategist, brand designer, and entrepreneur based in New York City. After graduating from Parsons School of Design in 2012, together with his college roommate and creative collaborator, Ryan Riegner, he founded L+R, an international technology design studio and strategy consulting firm. The company works with legacy organisations and small businesses alike to integrate the design process and build digital technologies.

Alex leads L+R’s end-to-end consultancy offering and heads ‘Liquid Crystal’, the company’s luxury vertical business unit. A board member of the Parsons Alumni Committee and the Ad Council’s UX Advisory Board, Alex has worked with a variety of category-leading brands including Google, Louis Vuitton, Estée Lauder and Amazon Web Services, and was selected for the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2019. He is also the founder of ‘Des-gin Gin’, a project that aims to unite the design and spirit industries.

Speaking to LBB’s Ben Conway, Alex shares the story of how L+R came to be, and discusses navigating an ‘uncertain’ marketplace by focusing on consultancy, his creative highlights from 2022, and how the business is helping its clients to adapt to the web3 future.

LBB> What creative content inspired or interested you most when you were growing up? Do any TV shows, films and ads stand out to you?

Alex> Absolut Vodka print ads, Got Milk print ads and Vintage Coca-Cola merchandise. My aunt and uncle are both artists and visiting their studios (in a converted middle school) was also formative for me. It helped me to understand the innate drive of divine discontent and artistic expression.

LBB> How was your journey into this industry? What did you study at college and where did you cut your teeth? 

Alex> I began playing around with Microsoft Paint and Corel Draw to make my own Absolut ads and Got Milk ads when I was in elementary and middle school, and then from middle school to high school, I participated heavily in the website In high school, I worked as a designer at a company called, where I worked closely with both the marketing and design/engineering production teams. That job exposed me to the concept of branding. Looking back, I believe the connection between business, creation, and humanism intrigued me.

LBB> How did L+R come about? What were some of your main goals with the studio from the start? Have these changed or been achieved?

Alex> L+R was started by myself and my freshman-year roommate, Ryan Riegner. Originally from a small town outside of Philadelphia, Ryan was pursuing his BFA in communication design at the Parsons School of Design in New York City. I was studying strategic design and management at Parsons’ School of Design Strategies.

Our first foray into design and strategic business services was a company we founded in our freshman year dorm room in Union Square, Manhattan, called ‘Albino Rhino’. The business made one or two logos, letterheads, and Macromedia Flash websites. It was short-lived, and we went our separate ways and took on internships. Then, during our senior year, we began collaborating on freelance projects together. It became clear to us there was a big opportunity in the market for design-led services that went beyond MILPs (making it look pretty). We saw an opportunity to use the design process as a way for solving business problems, building digital products, and more. We set out with a mission to improve life with design and technology. 

The name of the organisation represents the dichotomy between ‘left-brain’ and ‘right-brain’ thought;  the left brain is considered analytical and associated with critical thinking, while the right brain is associated with more creative and intuitive thought. We evolved this concept to focus on the merger, and ultimately, the balance between the two, and derived our mantra: ‘Strategy+Aesthetics®’. Our goal has always been to do what we love, on projects that are challenging, with people who inspire us. 

LBB> You’re “consultants that do” - what are the benefits and challenges that working in different disciplines provides for L+R? What does your split in focus/resources look like in 2023? 

Alex> The benefits of each of our departments (Strategy, Design and Engineering) approaching our work as consultants is that it creates a deeper sense of connection with the end goal and the people who will help make it happen. There is a lot of shared knowledge that has to flow between departments to provide high-quality output and a smooth handoff that sets the client up for sustainability and growth. When there’s representation from each department, we can share insights and knowledge freely and anticipate challenges.

2023 will be focused on the consulting side of the business. There is a good amount of uncertainty in the marketplace. By leading with consulting, while keeping the production team tied closely to the projects, we can execute on initiatives that are needed and align with the ebb and flow of businesses barreling into this new year. We continue to build our own proprietary frameworks and tooling for web3 while supporting organisations we align with on their projects. We are always seeking out and educating ourselves on new technologies, and web3/blockchain aligns with the way we see the future of the internet. However, we are really selective when it comes to finding projects that align with our values. 

LBB> You consult for web3 strategy - how bullish are you on this emerging sector? Will 2023 be a big year for web3 - generally and for L+R’s clients?

Alex> Not necessarily bullish, but blockchain technology is here to stay. We know this is a new technology that has many novel applications that have yet to be fully explored, and frankly, the bear market makes it easier to filter out projects that are just looking to cash in.

Because the financial side of web3 has been so barren, we’ve actually really enjoyed the web3 projects we’ve worked on in the last few months. We are working with a lot of forward-thinking clients who are pursuing exciting use cases for web3 and blockchain - ones that could change the way we as consumers interact with technology in our daily lives. Also, for those clients who are curious (and importantly, courageous) we’ve taken the last few months to build an educational workshop series (‘Applied Imaginations Sessions™’) to support organisations that want to understand what blockchain technology is and collaborate to identify opportunities to integrate the technology within their business. 

LBB> What are some of the projects from the last year that you’re proudest of? Tell us a bit about them!

Estée Lauder Companies - ‘ELC Learning Hub’

An employee experience platform for their 50,000+ global workforce. Webby’s People’s Voice in the Employee Experience & HR category in 2022.

Spireworks - ‘Change at a Distance’

Real-time interactive donation platform. Change the colours of the World Trade Center Building in New York City. Raised over $250,000 within the first year.

Phoenix Suns - ‘Footprint Center’

Brand identity design for the Phoenix Suns NBA Stadium.

Warner Bros. -  ‘Advanced Narratives’ 

We can’t talk much about this one, but it’s very cool. [It’s a] visionary team and the site has a clever web3 integration and NFT utility.

LBB> What are some upcoming projects that you’re looking forward to in 2023?

Alex> Printemps - a prestigious luxury French retailer opening in One Wall Street, New York City in Spring 2024. Playland - a historic amusement park (established 1928). There’s also a Spireworks expansion. And then, there’s the rebuilding of the ‘Global Citizen’ application in collaboration with Google’s Flutter. The app has millions of downloads, and we’ve worked with the team since 2015 - aligned with UN sustainable development goals.

LBB> Outside of work, what do you do to decompress or get motivated? 

Alex> I’ve started doing generative art, and now plotter art as well. Cooking too! And, I collect old media/magazines, art, antiques, music and vinyl. I’m an aspiring audiophile and produce music, DJ more casually, attend concerts and seek out new music.

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L+R, Fri, 13 Jan 2023 15:25:00 GMT