Design Strategist and Writer
I create stories that align design efforts, and bring structure to complexÂ user experiences. I write articlesÂ about design practice and the hidden ways it shapes everyday life. And I help creative professionalsÂ share their ideas and projectsÂ with the world, often through major business and design publications.
I’m also the co-founder of Protagonist Studio, a design agency based in London and Amsterdam that uses narrative as a tool for shaping UX and product strategy. Interested in learning more? Drop me a line.
I earned a BS in Structural Engineering from UC San Diego in 1994, and then a Masters in Industrial Design from the Pratt Institute in 2004, with a thesis on the emotional role of technology in presentation settings. In between, I spent six years teaching high school science, first in East Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer, then at an Ivy prep school in New York City. I also completed the Design Writing and Research Intensive at the School of Visual Arts in 2013. Teaching is still, without a doubt, the most useful skill set I’ve learned.
My professional design and writing careers both began in the summer of 2004, with a custom furniture building project for Barneys New York, and a feature article on Core77 about the lack of an American identity in furniture design.
From 2004 to 2009 I worked as an Industrial Designer, designing outdoor sporting equipment, remote controls, toys, and metal detectors, and modeling massive sculptures based on computer simulations of the expansion of the universe. Through all of this, I was doing sketch development, 3D CAD modeling, and user and market research; occasionally I got to lead a project, or take a design all the way to production-ready tooling.
I started contributing regularly to Core77 in 2007, took over their “Creative Seeds” design employment blog, and assumed a full-time position as Coroflot editorial director in 2008, where my responsibilities included community management, social media engagement, and content strategy. In 2010 I became the lead in-house writer and content strategist for Ziba Design , where I wrote and published over a quarter-million words in every format imaginable, including articles for business and design magazines like Forbes, FastCo, HBR, WIRED, and Gizmodo. I worked closely with many of Ziba’s brilliant designers as well, creating magazines, posters, videos, and microsites, and drafting narrative strategy for clients like FedEx, Microsoft, HP, and the Nike Foundation.
In 2015 I left Ziba to work as an independent contractor and writer, and in 2018 co-foundedÂ Protagonist StudioÂ along with veteran UX strategist and longtime colleague Victoria Kirk-Owal.
I’m currently based in Amsterdam, and travel frequently to the UK and US for work.