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Philo-what? Why? What’s Up with This Name?

Sarah Fey, April 2019

There are actually three answers to this question: one serious, one sentimental, and one stupidly practical.


The greek root philo means love. Think of philosophy = love of wisdom; philanthropy = love of mankind; or, new to me, philophobia = fear of falling in love. So we declare, philofect = love of effect. And it’s true, we love it when we effect growth in our local Boys & Girls Club, when we help raise millions to send military children to college, when we help dyslexic children in Argentina learn to read, when we help to stop Arctic drilling. The name fits.

At Philofect we are not just making pretty things. We are using design as a tool, a tool to effect change. As Tim Brown of IDEO says in his great book, Design for Change, we are “making verbs, not nouns.”


Back in 1997, I was thrilled to be part of the founding of a new design firm in Cambridge, MA with two amazingly talented partners. Following the same logic we called this firm Philographica and went on to do great work in the Boston area, particularly with the schools and universities there. That was a wonderful time of my life. I was newly married to my best friend and starting out on this great adventure in work and in life. We worked hard, listened to a lot of Morphine. Fletcher, the office poodle, kept himself busy with his game of auto-fetch, running a tennis ball up the stairs and dropping it down for the chase. We had full-staff meetings—all three of us—down at the MIT bar down the block, “The Miracle of Science.” Chanelling a little of the spirit of Philographica into Philofect is a good thing.


Not so shockingly the domain name,, was available.