Here’s Your Stupid Incredible Five-Step Secret Guaranteed Recipe for Everlasting Creative Cool. Totally Works! /
If 10,000 work hours makes an expert, how, after 30,000 hours, could anyone still care? Warning: Here comes the advice.
Constantly expand the reach of your talent.
If you’re a designer — truly — a pure designer — you should be able to confidently design anything, in any medium and on scalable platforms. If your platform is big, try going small and battling limited reach, or working pro-bono for a charity or a friend. If you primarily serve independent clients, seek out some corporate work and discover your flexible side.
Design as a cultural anthropologist.
If you’re a marketing professional, you’re empirically rigorous and theoretically sophisticated. You’re excited by changing linguistics. You’re fascinated by food culture. You follow economics, cultural analyses of value, debt, capitalism, and globalization. You’re a social animal, and you love to study folks in their natural environment. Make sure to get beyond your tribe though — can you design for moms as well as millennials?
Design as an ambassador bridging the human/digital experience.
If you’re in marketing, you’d better be keeping your client relevant. That means you’re digital first. More importantly though, it means you have to innovate. You have to take cold technology and and communicate soulful charms that warm the soul.
Design as a writer, a painter, a calligrapher, an actor, a bartender (same thing?)
You get the idea; bending your talent into adjacent or closely related derivatives feeds your talent. Beyond that, try working within the constraints of various creative fields. How would a painter design a poster? How would a bartender improve a coaster? How would a dancer have done your commercial? If you gave a writer from the 1930's a flux capacitor, how would they design a website?
Master a complex skill that compliments your discipline.
This is where, by a power of ten, you will really sharpen up. As a creative director working in digital environs, it was an absolute revelation to take it further and design branded spaces. Observing people interacting inside my design enhanced my understanding of how we connect customers to a brand, a product, a website, SaaS and more.
Did you know you can create antique floors using spent coffee grinds? Or that you can dip light bulbs in rubber to create a warm yellow ember? Read about that and more in Sabrina Smelko's article, “IN SF’S RESTORED SMOKESTACK AT MAGNOLIA BREWING, A TRIP BACK IN TIME.” A big hug to the hard-working Grace Bonney and her blog, the online sensation Design*Sponge. It's a great read, please share it.
Resin's responsive, adaptive website uses split-screen video beside vertical parallax scrolling, hiding navigation, and technically innovative animations. Still, the brand retains its dark, natural sensibility.
XD: A practice any good designer should innately understand; consider everything, and design based on an understanding of the ways we experience our world.
It’s a crowded moment in this world of ours, isn’t it? The artist Mos Def sums it up well in his song, Life in Marvelous Times:
“And more and more and more and more
And more of less than ever before
It’s just too much more for your mind to absorb.”
All that ‘more’ is tech-driven, of course, and thank the gods for that -- we need tech to sling Carpool Karaoke vids from our smart phones to our flatscreens.
Experience Design isn’t limited by technological experience though; it’s about ways to contribute meaning to our lives. When good ideas fail, they’re usually plagued by designers who fail to grasp XD.
Right now, design graduates are departing with their diplomas, having never grasped the advantages of Experience Design. That’s an easy one to decode; universities around the world are falling over themselves to attract students by keeping up with the speedy march of progress. Observation-based cultural studies have diminished in favor of broad marketing analytics, and kids leave unaware of what they lack, lost in metrics and lines of code, incapable of sharing with ordinary humans what makes that code so elegant.
I specialize in bridging the human/digital experience, in part through brand-integrated websites and apps. Often clients don’t have the same expectation of artistry in their digital space. Many want sparse, efficient communication and are willing to part ways with brand image in favor of brand efficiency, and showing them they can have both is rewarding.
In that spirit, the ultra-wonk tech hub of San Francisco doesn’t always put their money on Experience Design. Why? A lot of tech companies in San Francisco are looking for a tech-purebred mindset instead of a humanistic problem-solver mindset. That’s great too, if it serves the brand.
Great companies separate themselves from the pack by designing for the sake of the consumer experience. The great graphic yawns that create similarities among food-delivery apps like Caviar, Sprig, Munchery and SpoonRocket may profit from market identity, but they’ll gain little in the form of customer connection. In the end, profitable tech experiences are those that enhance the human experience beyond A/B testing.
There’s great opportunity there, if you work to seize it.
UX/UI and opportunities far beyond web are best led by XD thought processes. Thought leadership doesn't come from identifying with technology; it’s all of the things -- behavior, stance, image, tone, approach, confidence and connectedness.
You hire a wonk, you get nerd UX. You hire someone with broad cultural knowledge, you get people UX.
Relatability & relationship building, whether driven by data, insight or hunch, is what makes it all work. Understand the feelings and desires of the customer? Sure. First though, understand yourself. That’s how we develop the emotional content customers have come to expect.
It’s okay to sweat, it shows your human side.
Just remember: Don’t sweat the tech -- sweat the technique.
A huge thrill today as Nothing Something’s project Saint George Bistro has been awarded the highest & most coveted rating given by The New York Times. Additionally, the review generously mentions our interior design and graphic program for the restaurant, an unusual gift for which we are very grateful. #Interiordesign #branding #hospitality #best #newyork
“The name, which brings to mind an English boarding school or an isolated part of Canada, happens to be that of Mr. Vergara’s pet rabbit. And it’s stenciled on the front window in antiqued gold lettering that looks as if it has been there since the Crusades. Black-and-white photos on the bistro‘s website show dreamy damask roses in perpetual bloom and ancient stone walls hung with ivy. The triptych menu is printed in precise letterpress black and red, waiters wear old-fashioned striped aprons and the very good bread is swaddled in a cloth napkin. You can have your absinthe and drink it too.”
The New York Times | Dining Review | ★★★★ (EXCELLENT)
Thanks to Gestalten for featuring our interior design and architectural work. It's a nicely curated look at the small handful of interior designers and architects worldwide who are using new concepts to make going to a restaurant a multi-sensory experience. #restaurant #design Smokestack At Magnolia Brewing
Devin Becker said this to me anytime I'd reach my limit during the making of Smokestack. Very motivational.
“This is the place to go to try California’s new wave wines. Their fans are a who’s who of the Bay Area’s best chefs: Alice Waters and Jérôme Waag of Chez Panisse, Nick Balla and Cortney Burns of Bar Tartine, Thomas McNaughton of Central Kitchen, and Sylvan Mishima Brackett of Izakaya Rintaro, to name just a few.”
Scribe, mixing it up with Mexico, and looking great while doing it.