Salt Fat Acid Heat and Design

As a fan of eating delicious things, my eyes and brain perked up when I read about Chef Samin Nosrat and her new cookbook entitled “Salt Fat Acid Heat.” In her book she describes this phenomenon as the perfect storm of tastes as achieved by the simple grilled cheese sandwich:

“Learn to balance them perfectly and you’ll learn to create the perfect meal. Take the grilled cheese: if the pan is too hot, the bread will burn without the cheese melting; too cold, and the sandwich will turn soggy. The butter on the bread is the best fat to marry with the heat for this result. The cheese on the inside provides the necessary saltiness to cut through the butter, and the pickles on the side provide the acidity needed to balance a rich meal.”

Continue reading “Salt Fat Acid Heat and Design”

5 Books on Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life

Painting by Jane Mount


When I moved to Silicon Valley, I donated all of my books to Designer Fund in San Francisco. It’s freeing to let go of the past. I’ve found that it makes things a lot simpler for yourself — and it forces you to figure out what truly matters. As I wrote in a book on simplicity now over a decade ago:

Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful. 

Continue reading “5 Books on Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life”

Design in Tech Report 2018

header-logo

Silicon Valley design guru John Maeda distinguishes between three categories: “classical” designers, who create physical objects or products; “commercial” designers who innovate by seeking deep insights into how customers interact with products and services; and “computational” designers, who use programming skills and data to satisfy millions or even billions of users instantaneously.

Clay Chandler on the Design in Tech Report
Continue reading “Design in Tech Report 2018”

Foreword for Make It New, by Barry Katz

This is the draft and unedited foreword to Barry Katz’s book, Make It New.


At a recent MIT event, I had the opportunity to listen to a variety of stories as told by Professor Nicholas Negroponte on how the MIT Media Lab came to be. He shared many great ones – ranging from his chance dinner encounter with Buckminster Fuller on a cruise ship, to how he came to know William J. Mitchell just when he had arrived in the US, to his chauffeur-driven adventures with his mentor, MIT President Jerome Wiesner, in launching the Media Lab in the early 80s.

Continue reading “Foreword for Make It New, by Barry Katz”

Earning, Gooding, Making (, Processing)

“What is Design?” Written on May 8, 2013


Yesterday I spoke at the Atlantic IDEAS conference with Paola Antonelli of MoMA on the nature of design in the age of technology. I always find it helpful to be in front of folks that are unfamiliar to design to force myself to try and figure out “What is Design?” as there‘s nothing like pressure from a live audience.

There’s growing interest in design, I think, because there is such interest in the younger generation to do good for the world — what I refer to in my diagram above of a “gooding for prosperity” axis. In our capitalistic society, there’s always been the pressure to make a buck, euro, yuan, etc so the “earning for profit” axis is a classic measure of worth.

Continue reading “Earning, Gooding, Making (, Processing)”

Startups are great, but we can learn a lot from “end-ups,” too

End-ups have resources; start-ups have commitment.

by John Maeda / February 3, 2013 

for GigaOm

At last week’s DLD Conference in Munich, I had the opportunity to sit onstage with the co-founder and CPO of Airbnb, Joe Gebbia. We started by discussing the unique creative culture at Rhode Island School of Design, where Joe went to college, and where I currently serve as president. Joe shared some of his secrets of being a successful designer-founder, and then turned the tables and asked me what it’s like to run a 136-year-old institution like RISD.

Continue reading “Startups are great, but we can learn a lot from “end-ups,” too”