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”

Your Life In 2020

Written in 2010 when asked by Forbes about what 2020 might be like …


The future of “ubiquitous computing” has been heralded for decades. It sounds grandiose–computing, everywhere!–but ironically, a future of ubiquitous computing is one where computers actually go unnoticed. That’s 2020. It is when Nicholas Negroponte’s assertion in 1995 of “being digital” switches to “been digital” because we will have been there and done that. Kids who have grown up stealing free views of recent movie releases online or regularly chatting with a friend in Bangalore or Atlanta will be working adults in a world where the notion of “work” has changed because of digital technology. But it’s no longer “technology” in 2020 anymore–it’s just how we get things done.

Continue reading “Your Life In 2020”

Why Business Leaders Should Act More like Artists

Perhaps the reason why artists collaborate and socialize so well is that they learn in the studio model

by John Maeda / December 1, 2009 

for HBS

Stereotypes abound about artists: they range from the mild (“they have fuschia-colored hair”), to the absurd (“they starve,”), to the disturbed (“they do things like uncontrollably peeing in the fireplace as depicted in the popular movie Pollock.”). Granted I know artists with wild-colored hair and others who are certainly struggling to make ends meet, but they all choose to use the restroom. I’ve also met artists who are quite plain-looking and plain-acting CEOs, lawyers, stockbrokers, and scientists.

Continue reading “Why Business Leaders Should Act More like Artists”

The South Face of the Mountain

Powerful and inspired computer art requires a melding of the aesthetic and engineering sensibilities in the same person

by John Maeda /  July 1, 1998 

for Technology Review

In Japan, a miyadaiku (a carpenter trained in the ancient art of Japanese temple carpentry) attains special status from the Emperor if the temple he builds stands for more than a thousand years. “Such temples,” said one of the last miyadaiku, the late Tsunekazu Nishioka, “stand not because of the magnificence of their design, but because the miyadaiku goes to the mountain, and selects trees from the south face of the mountain to be used for the south face of the temple, trees from the west face of the mountain for the west face of the temple, and so on for the other two sides.” Because the building materials are carefully selected in order to respect the laws of nature, the temple can coexist in harmony with nature. Both the extrinsic and intrinsic qualities of the temple radiate its overall strength and beauty.

Continue reading “The South Face of the Mountain”