Blog Archives

Enter the C’s

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A few months ago, I made the leap. I lept from the land of hav­ing a cor­po­rate job to the vil­lage of “I want to run my own com­pany.” The leap itself wasn’t hard. Getting to the edge before I made the jump was excruciating. Was I mak­ing the right deci­sion? What is it that I want, any­way? Who am I? What is a designer? All the deep, soul prob­ing ques­tions that slowly stir in your head at 4am made my trek to the brink one that was coated in a foot of sticky mud. I let myself stew. The syn­the­sis por­tion of the design process as a cue, I allowed all of my thoughts to tum­ble and boil, know­ing that the moment of clar­ity would come when it was ready. On a Thursday evening at the Sheung Wan branch of Café O in Hong Kong, under­stand­ing arrived. With a new note­book I’d picked up in Japan and my favorite Muji pen, I began writ­ing future state­ments about myself. “I am a pro­fes­sor.” “I have my own line of sneak­ers.” “I work with the smartest peo­ple.” “I have enough money to travel for inspi­ra­tion.” I wrote about forty of these sen­tences, then started orga­niz­ing. My state­ments fell into six dif­fer­ent groups: Create, Curate, Convey,...

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Pushing forward on PDLSK map notebook project

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More progress today on the note­book col­lab­o­ra­tion between Studio Koto and Parallel Design Labs! As a lover of maps, I’m excited for what will even­tu­ally be — right now I’m lov­ing the look but still exper­i­ment­ing with the details and point of view. I’m try­ing to decide on which direc­tion to take them. The whole project makes me inter­ested in book­bind­ing once again. Paper is more beau­ti­ful in a dig­i­tal world.

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The UX of the myBalsamiq icon library

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As the UX designer’s place to get her UX busi­ness on, it seems only fit­ting to give a shout out to the UX of myBal­samiq. Whew. Fantastic tool more or less, so I’ll focus on my favorite part: the icon library. As some­one who gen­er­ally dis­likes emoti­cons I find these icons to be the “bee’s knees,” as Coach Beast would say. They are the per­fect level of res­o­lu­tion for this level of UX work, and way bet­ter than the real thing. Generally, I don’t care for the ‘sketch’ image fea­ture in myBal­samiq. I wish it used more of a pos­ter­ized feel to fit with these icons. Overall though, good times, good times with sketchy icons.

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Studio Koto x Parallel Design Labs

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Collab! Based on the suc­cess of cre­at­ing the sig­na­ture work­shop note­books for design startup Parallel Design Labs, Studio Koto and PDL are team­ing up for our first co-branded prod­uct: beau­ti­ful, laser-etched note­books. We’ve got a lot of work ahead but what’s more fun than maps on gor­geous paper? This is an early exper­i­ment with a 1965 map of San Francisco…more to come!

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Coaching bootcamp

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For the last few weeks I’ve been coach­ing boot­camp at Stanford’s dschool. This course is the first dive into design think­ing for grad stu­dents from a range of dif­fer­ent depart­ments. It’s always inter­est­ing to teach design process to a new group of people. My two teams have been work­ing towards re-designing the home enter­tain­ment expe­ri­ence for DirecTV.  The two meta themes of the project are iden­tity and com­mu­nity and both groups have been inter­view­ing users and mak­ing mean­ing from their research. Today we explored and spring­boarded off the feed­back from my teams’ prototypes.

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The UX of Stephen Barta, Genius

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Yes, yes, we all know, Apple is the sem­i­nal exam­ple of a com­pany that cre­ates full, sys­temic expe­ri­ences for its users. From the ecosys­tem to the indi­vid­ual user to the object itself, they are mas­ters of com­ple­tion. However, as a fairly advanced but not fanatic user of Apple prod­ucts, I’ve always had issues with the con­cept of the Genius Bar. It makes me uncom­fort­able. I want my com­puter to work always. When there is a prob­lem, I fig­ure it out myself. I don’t want some “genius” telling me the prob­lem is that I use Chrome and I should switch to Safari. I don’t want to feel bad for hav­ing six tabs and three pro­grams open. I don’t want to feel guilty that I have decided not to update my oper­at­ing sys­tem to the one that came out fif­teen min­utes ago. I don’t want to spend two hours with a “genius” in the store that can’t fig­ure out why my screen flick­ers only to leave my com­puter overnight for exten­sive test­ing and wake up to a peppy phone call telling me that noth­ing is wrong with my machine. I shouldn’t feel bad that my com­puter is almost three years old. It’s a com­puter and I use it a lot. I want it to work. Enter Stephen Barta. At the height...

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Killing the sensor in your head

Killing the sensor in your head

Today I had the plea­sure of attend­ing 1197, a con­fer­ence cel­e­brat­ing mobile pho­tog­ra­phy and ipho­neog­ra­phy. Speakers included Phillipe Kahn, who took the first cam­era phone photo in November of 1997 (hence the name of the event), stel­lar pho­tog­ra­pher Lauren Randolph (@laurenlemon), and oth­ers that use mobile pho­tog­ra­phy in a range of domains. I found two peo­ple incred­i­bly com­pelling: Richard @koci Hernandez, and Dan @konstruktivist Cristea. Koci and Dan led a dawn photo walk through San Francisco, and then fol­lowed up with a phone-only photo pro­cess­ing workshop. My top 5 take­aways from @koci and @konstruktivist: (1) “Kill the sen­sor in your head that says not to take that photo.” If you pause for a split sec­ond, you’re going to miss the shot. Always be ready. Mobile phones allow you to pre­tend you are talk­ing on the phone or read­ing email when you’re actu­ally tak­ing a snap­shot — use the tool for all it can accomplish. (2) “There is no such thing as bad light — just inap­pro­pri­ate light for that sub­ject.” Search for inter­est­ing pock­ets of light no mat­ter where you are or what time of day you’re shoot­ing. Study sur­faces, objects, peo­ple, and wait for your shot. (3) “If you think it will hap­pen, it will hap­pen.” Think about...

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Mass Customization Concept Map

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I’ve been think­ing a lot about mass cus­tomiza­tion for a client project. The con­cept is one that I’m a huge fan of — espe­cially when large orga­ni­za­tions are brave enough to open up their manufacturing. The term “mass cus­tomiza­tion” is a broad one that refers to the ever-increasing involve­ment of cus­tomers in the design, man­u­fac­tur­ing, and sell­ing processes of all types of prod­ucts. Mass cus­tomiza­tion gives cus­tomers con­trol over, and the abil­ity to per­son­al­ize prod­ucts. It gives small com­pa­nies and cre­ators busi­ness mod­els to keep costs down through on-demand pro­duc­tion, and it gives larger com­pa­nies meth­ods for incor­po­rat­ing mass par­tic­i­pa­tion into prod­uct devel­op­ment, along with sim­ple tools for cre­at­ing prod­ucts with a user’s own designs or specifications. As the dis­tri­b­u­tion of man­u­fac­tur­ing around the world shifts and evolves, mass cus­tomiza­tion and the new man­u­fac­tur­ing mod­els that come with it will become increas­ingly pop­u­lar for new com­pa­nies. Older, larger com­pa­nies with estab­lished man­u­fac­tur­ing sys­tems will need to evolve. Barriers and chal­lenges exist, but oppor­tu­nity abounds. I find this Wired mag­a­zine arti­cle par­tic­u­larly fan­tas­tic: http://​www​.wired​.com/​m​a​g​a​z​i​n​e​/​2​0​1​0​/​0​1​/​f​f​_​n​e​w​r​e​v​o​l​u​t​i​on/ Mass cus­tomiza­tion is a broad term that includes many con­cepts such as co-creation, manufacturing-on-demand, open inno­va­tion, crowd­fund­ing, online mar­ket­places and more. I put together this con­cept map to give an overview of mass...

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