Design Is … -isms

In preparation for the upcoming Design In Tech Report I’ve gone back to look at my Twitter feed over the last ten years to see what I thought design’s meant to me. Some of these “-isms” are more right or more wrong depending upon the era that they came from so it’s a little embarrassing to look back like this. But that’s how we all learn: by trying out all of our ideas in public to see what might stick! —JM

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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.”

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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. 

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Design in Tech Report 2018

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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
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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.

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