What did you do before Openbox?
I had my own firm, Emergent Design, for 5+ years. I was interested in building my own point of view on why and how to do design thinking. I especially wanted to do ethnographic research, I wanted to do it all over the world and I wanted to do it deeply.
Before Emergent I was working in a siloed world of apparel and product design, where designers were just 'creative' and that was a code word for 'not smart'. But I strongly disagree with that. At Emergent I did all of it. I sold the work and I did the work. I worked all over the world. I worked on all sorts of questions, topics and problems. My work found me in dried-up riverbeds, firetrucks, oyster farms, ship factories, dog-sleds, funeral processions, you get the idea. People kept hiring us, so we must have been good at what we were selling.
Also, I have a secret MBA. I've mentored early stage start-us and helped them think more deeply about product-market fit by understanding their customers and rapidly testing their ideas.
What do you like about the work you do?
I have deep respect for people and their experiences. I like trying to figure them out. People watching has been a favorite past time since I was a kid, now I get to do it professionally. And I like to create, tell, hear and read stories. People run on stories. Stories are how we organize this disorganized world. Data points are only as good as the narratives that string them together.
Design is a much more powerful agent of change than we give it credit for. Designers are often relegated to satisfying urges like efficiency and pleasure. These things are fine, necessary even. But I'd like to attach them to higher-order values that reflect the world I want to live in. I'm not comfortable with a bullhorn. You don't need a soapbox when you have design.
What does inclusivity mean to you?
Sacrificing your own comfort for the comfort of others.
When do you feel most like yourself?
Waking up in a new place and going for a walk. Shopping in a grocery store where I don't speak the language. Walking up a steep mountain, counting my steps to keep my breath under control.
I spend a lot of time thinking about...
People, patterns and extremes.