Our studio specializes in helping create new products and services in industries going through disruptions. What does that mean exactly?
When we started the studio in 2012, we realized that speed was critical to helping companies execute effectively. Not in the sense of “move fast and break things” — but speed of thought, speed of execution, speed of iteration. The ability to collapse the distance between an insight or an opportunity and creating a thing and putting it in front of customers or key stakeholders to create a feedback loop around that insight or opportunity.
Our founding designers, Khoi Uong and Greg Ervanian, are the kind of creative person who can cover a lot of ground, in order to help the creative process move efficiently. Stretching from brand and identity deep into the user experience of a digital product. Being able to work with product leads to get the big idea and make it real. Having the pride of craft but not being trapped by pride of ownership, in order to iterate on feedback. Product designers before that role became broadly understood and adopted.
Both Khoi and Greg set the template for how our studio approaches design — and strategy through design. Over 10 years, designers have moved through our studio and on to companies like Stripe, Amazon, Figma, Google, SquareSpace, Ramp, Care/Of, Coda, and a wide array of start-ups and digital agencies.
cycles of change
We have guided companies through waves of change, as digital has re-shaped industries. As bandwidth and access increased and viewer behavior changed, streaming media, audio, and podcasting has completely changed how media is created and distributed. We were there.
As mobile devices changed people’s relationship with finance and health, we were there. As social media and composable web technologies changed how creators reached audiences, we were there.
And as data, machine learning, and a completely different set of consumer and professional attitudes to what defines a good experience has reshaped everything from enterprise SaaS to health care delivery to interacting with retailers, we’ve been there.
acceleration & its discontents
As we look to the next 10 years, we see disruption on the near horizon — perhaps at a scale that will make the changes in the last 10 years seem quaint.
At every point of technology-led disruption, there are opportunities. There are winners and losers. And there need to be new ways of thinking, of working, and of making.
Our hope is to approach that work thoughtfully. With a spirit of evolution and a goal of making the world better.
what is coming next
Some attributes of how the practice of design and strategy will need to work in the next 10 years will likely resemble the past 10. Speed of thought, the ability to iterate, and the foresight to create useful and flexible systems will still be critical.
But other things may change.
How we think about designing and training data sets and models to achieve outcomes vs. simply defining and designing outcomes will be a radical shift, as we think through how to leverage increasingly powerful machine learning models.
Fundamentally rethinking hyper growth as an economic end to itself, as we navigate the dual challenges of climate change and economic inequality will cascade down through our corporate and consumer behaviors. This will either be a choice we make or a challenged forced upon us, depending on how we approach it.
While speed of thought may still be important, a more deliberate approach to how we create, test, and scale new technology-driven solutions may be needed to make sure we create sustaining and enduring economic value, not just feeding quick hit bubbles.
where we want to play
As we look forward with the benefit of a few decades of working at the intersection of technology and design, we would like to evolve and focus our practice in support of companies tackling big challenges and looking to make big impact.
We see an opportunity to continue our work tackling real world problems in health care, personal finance, mobility, and the built environment.
We want to be a part of figuring out how to live within a changing climate — partnering to create design systems for deep science and tech, creating the digital experiences for climate tech, and working with change makers to influence individual, institutional, and political behaviors for a more sustainable and just climate future.
We want to think about how digital technologies can create both economic abundance and a more equitable distribution of access and outcomes.
And we want to continue to empower creative people — the artists, the storytellers, the curators, the connectors, and the makers — to sustain their practice and livelihoods in a way that makes our lives richer and more wonderful.