Meet our Clients…Elio Studio

Published: 7th May 2010 in News

Leonora of Elio Studio has worked with Make Hay for some time, being one of our longest-standing Green Hosting and web design clients. She is also a good friend of Green Girls Global. So, a warm welcome please…

Leonora OppenheimPlease introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work.

Hello, my name is Leonora Oppenheim and I’m the director of Elio Studio, a design consultancy that crafts narratives to inform and inspire.

Our work can be described as design storytelling – in other words, we use word, image and form to tell local cultural, environmental and community stories to wider audiences.

We work in collaboration with architects, designers, curators and scientists on creative projects that promote engaging conversations around sustainability issues.

I also regularly put finger to key to tell epic tales of design derring and sustainability do for and other online and print publications.

How is your business different to that of others in your industry? How do you stand out from the crowd?

Elio Studio - Carlos and Equadorian chocolateFrom working on plans for a chocolate factory with cacao farmers in the Ecuadorian Amazon to reporting on biogas toilets from the mountains of northern Ethiopia, we tell many an adventurous tale of beautiful and inspiring encounters with creative minds around the world.

With an unusual combination of design, writing and sustainability skills Elio Studio tells cultural stories through several disciplines, including public design installations, journalism and brand consultancy.

This diversity gives us multiple platforms to communicate from and we often enjoy blurring the boundaries between them, which makes for a pretty dynamic and unique approach to storytelling.

How would you say your work is ethically and / or environmentally responsible?

Every project that Elio Studio is involved in has its root in ethical and environmental responsibility, we take that as a given. If the project is not making a positive contribution in some way then it’s not the right fit for us, and moreover it’s just not fun to work on.

Leonora lifting a jerry can

What motivates you to do business this way?

I like a good challenge! And I really believe that forging emotional connections between individuals and their local environment is one of the greatest design challenges of our time.

At the studio we’re excited by the possibilities of creative collaboration with local communities. We take local stories at a grassroots level and promote them on global platforms, inspiring businesses & individuals to create positive change.

How do you communicate your positive work with clients and potential clients and how do they respond?

We try to take a light, engaging tone that shows we’re as passionate about good design as we are about environmental issues, and that the two are not mutually exclusive.

We communicate using word and image through multi-media channels of email (hello [at], website ( – thanks to Make Hay) and Twitter (

Occasionally, when we really want to grab someone’s attention we like to be old school and send a beautiful hand written note. Sometimes we even turn up in person!

Each medium is useful in it’s own way. For example Twitter is an excellent tool, not only for promoting your own work, but also to curate content of others you trust and admire. It gives you the opportunity to create a dynamic ‘brand voice’ that gives potential clients an impression of what your business is about.

Do you see your work as part of a movement of ethical business?

Yes, absolutely.

It’s difficult to say whether there is any body else doing exactly what Elio Studio is doing right now, but there is certainly a fantastic community of sustainable design thinkers locally in London, and globally in the blogosphere, working in all sorts of different disciplines – fashion, products, architecture, service and systems design.

Map at the Creative Data project in Norfolk

We all bounce ideas off each other regularly and often form fantastic collaborations. I feel very lucky to be part of this community that keeps me inspired and motivated every day.

My top 5 UK ethical design business picks:


Share your top 3 tips on how other businesses can work more responsibly.

Cradle to Cradle – learn to embrace systems thinking and close the loop.

Act local. Think Global – get involved in your local community and tell everyone about it online.

Work for ‘More joy per person’ – always ask how your business decisions affect people, from supplier to consumer and everyone in between.

How do you see the future of your business and what are you most excited about?

The future of my business is multidisciplinary and multi platform storytelling, finding creative ways of communicating the important issues of our time to people locally and globally.

I’m most excited about the possibilities of working with commercial brands to communicate their sustainability initiatives to their customers in fun and engaging ways. I think there is so much potential to inspire people through design storytelling.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your work?

You might like to check out one of Elio Studio’s projects that’s currently in development. It’s a series of public design installations called Creative Data ( that are taking place around the UK over the next few years.

Creative Data project - The Butterfly Effect

We’re working in collaboration with climate scientists with the aim of the communicating local environmental issues to local people in their local environment.

You can watch the short film of our pilot project The Butterfly Effect,  and watch out for the up coming Creative Data projects in Wales 2010 (coastal), Cornwall 2011 (Eden Project) and London 2012 (Olympics).

If you are interested in finding out more about Creative Data or would like Elio Studio tell your design story please do get in touch (hello [at]

Visit Leonora’s website at

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