What do you do?
I’m the Global Design Director at IDEO.org where I lead our team of designers across projects. Throughout our work we are constantly striving to find new ways to experiment and bring more innovative and creative approaches into the social sector.
What does your work space look like? Where do you like to create?
I love to have a large clean work surface in front of me, surrounded with all the right tools to quickly sketch, scan, prototype, and play with ideas. This often means it’s not the most minimal work environment, but makes for a great canvas to let ideas emerge.
What role does the pencil play in your process?
For me, the pencil is great partner to the pen – pencils allow for more free-flowing sketching, shading, unencumbered exploration of ideas, without worrying about where your lines will connect or lead you. The pen comes in when you want to narrow to one solution.
Why do you choose to work with pencils and, specifically, Blackwings?
Life is too short to work with crappy tools, and Blackwings are the most beautiful pencils around. They’re iconic and really enjoyable to use. I once gave a Blackwing pencil to each of our team members, wrapped in a sleeve with “Talk Less Do More” printed on it as a representation of one of our cultural values.
What other tools are essential to your process?
I also need to be close to a good x-acto knife with plenty of fresh blades. The Papermate Flair is my favorite pen/line drawing tool. When it comes to making physical things like environments, furniture, and product, the list gets pretty long. If you want to be able to prototype anything, get a Festool Tracksaw, a Milwaukee drill/driver, a Bosch jigsaw, a Fein tool vac, a few japanese pull saws, some basic hand tools, and you’ll be well on your way.
How do you overcome ______ block? Writer’s block, artist’s block, etc.
We work on some tough challenges, and maintaining fresh eyes is one of the most important things we can practice. I like to do this by working in intense spurts, then changing the environment and activity drastically before returning to look at the problem again. Getting into nature or seeking some fresh air is one of the best ways to do this. I also find that quiet reflection time and Meditation are vastly underestimated in our culture.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Open your mind to change.
IDEO.org believes “The right tools can unlock more creative, impactful solutions to any challenge.” Why are the tools we use so important?
Tools can help you unlock creativity, like the content in our Travel Pack on Kickstarter. They can also help you create more usable, and desirable solutions. Our teams spend a lot of time packing prototyping kits for the field to make sure we’re ready for a wide range of challenges that might come our way.
IDEO also believes in the power of creativity and design to change the world. What are some of the greatest examples of that you’ve seen?
For really great examples, one that comes to mind is the TEDx network that has enabled innovative and inspiring ideas to spread to countries and very remote areas.
Another, even bigger one is the smartphone as a platform for creativity. Entrepreneurs can now be represented globally, and are able to create new connections and services for people fairly easily. App marketplaces are easily the biggest creative movement in the history of our world.