Words by Tess Becker
The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a compendium of invented words written by John Koenig that aims to give names to emotions that we all feel that we don’t always have the words for. One of those words, lutalica, references the part of your identity that doesn't fit any categories - something Studio Lutalica aims to express.
Studio Lutalica is a design agency that specifically wanted to break into a niche, helping queer people and women by highlighting how people rarely fit categorical identities. The founder themselves, Cecilia Righini, is non-binary, and wanted to create a space where queer people could feel seen and have their needs met.
“I founded Lutalica in 2020 after working as a Design Manager and volunteering for LGBTQ+ charities,” Cecilia says. “As a queer activist, I got to know charities and small businesses that wanted to make a difference but didn’t have the time, resources or knowledge to reach the people they needed to.”
They set out to offer a wide range of options for people, organizations, and businesses but specifically for queer people and women. The front page of their website reads “Design for Feminists and Queers.”
“I think it's a bit of a shift in the industry as usually people just get more expertise in one specific service rather than knowing the clients they work with,” Cecilia tells Smiley News. “We do anything from branding, brand strategy, brand visual identity, we do editorial work and the thing that we're most known for is websites.”
This work has supported a lot of LGBTQ+ organizations in the US since its launch in 2020.
“Over the past 2.5 years, we supported over 60 LGBTQ+ and feminist clients, including I’m From Driftwood, ONE Archives Foundation, Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights, InterPride, and ILGA World,” Cecilia says.
While most of their work centers around providing services for queer people and women they have been expanding to help other marginalized groups, such as disability communities and organizations tackling homelessness.
“We noticed that there's a very large overlap with some of these communities and the LGBTQ community,” Cecilia says. “So I think it's important to try and reach more organizations if they're not specifically LGBTQ+ focused.”
The fundamental aim of Studio Lutalica is queer design for queer people so they can be seen and understood.
“I think this is like very important and reflects a lot because we don't just tolerate our clients identity. We must understand them. In a way, we are them, which breaks down a lot of barriers into later conversation when people are scared of asking the wrong questions,” Cecilia says.
The future is very open for Studio Lutalica because even though they’re a for-profit business at the moment they’re looking at ways to expand their accessibility to those who need it.
“We're trying to find the best setup,” Cecilia says. “We started as a company because it's easier [than a nonprofit] but we're really conscious about the fact that we're not trying to make a profit for money but to make sure that we can invest it more within the community.”
At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.
Beacon Food Forest. This is one of the largest food forests in the country. Find out more and support them here.
American Forests. A conservation organization focused on preserving and protecting American forests. Support them here.
Cultural Survival. They are an indigenous-led nonprofit focused on empowering indigenous Americans and helping the planet. Find out more.