Design Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
John Maeda is an American designer, technologist, and catalyst behind the national movement to transform STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) to STEAM. He served as the 16th President of the Rhode Island School of Design where, as chief executive, he repositioned the esteemed and historic institution to regain its top position in the new economy. An internationally recognized thought leader at the intersection of design and technology, Maeda now works with early, mid and late-stage start-up CEOs as Design Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in Silicon Valley.
Having formally or informally advised hundreds of companies over the course of his career, Maeda currently serves on the Board of Directors for Sonos and Wieden+Kennedy, and is a member of the Technical Advisory Board for Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects Group and the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on New Growth Models.
The Meaning of Innovation: Turning STEM into STEAM
How will American students remain competitive today, tomorrow, fifty years from now? How will they stay on the leading edge of innovation in a hyper-competitive world? Currently, President Obama's education initiatives have focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math as the path to innovation and a robust economy. But, John Maeda says, these so-called "STEM" subjects will only get us so far. In this passionate, refreshing, and deftly argued talk, Maeda posits that we need to add "Art" to turn "STEM" into "STEAM." The arts teach us to empathize, to create, to collaborate, and—perhaps most importantly—to humanize. Through a personal exploration of his journey from MIT to the U.S.'s leading art and design college, Maeda argues that critical thinking, critical making, and creative leadership can lead us to an enlightened form of innovation—one where art, design, technology, and business meet. The role of designers and artists is changing and expanding; what we learn from how they work, how they process, and how they think will help drive innovation—the engine of our economy—in the critical years ahead.
Design, Data, Decisions
With ever more complex technology, instant communication, social media, and big data coming at us, we live in times that beg for simplicity to have meaningful discussions, make better decisions, and have others be genuinely informed. At the MIT Media Lab, Maeda showed how design can simplify technology and help make our connections to each other more meaningful. Now, as Design Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in Silicon Valley, he believes design can redefine leadership and be a powerful force in helping leaders navigate their competing priorities, agendas, and relationships. In this talk, he shows that in an age where anyone can friend the CEO, leaders need new tools that leverage the power of design and data to make them better informed and more effective communicators.
Why is Design Big in Silicon Valley?
Over the last few decades, we’ve been conditioned to buy “better” computing technology—where “better” has meant faster, larger, cheaper. But between 2008 and 2009, while a global financial crisis took hold, something miraculous happened in the technology world. Smartphones had just started to become commonplace, and the first mass-consumerization of computing was officially underway. Computing used to be for the un-cool—the nerds—but after mobiles took hold, they’ve become an everyday fixture in modern life. The old way of making technology products for techies, by creating a technology and spraying design on at the end, is no longer sufficient. Tech companies now need to start with design, and not just end with it.
When designer and computer scientist John Maeda was tapped to be president of the celebrated Rhode Island School of Design in 2008, he went from being a professor—free to speak his mind against "the man"—to being "the man." Asked if he has stopped designing, Maeda replied (via Twitter) "I'm designing how to talk about/with/for our #RISD community." Maeda's creative nature makes him a different sort of leader—one who prizes honest critique and learning how to "productively fail." In this candid, entertaining, and instructive talk, Maeda uses perspectives from his various backgrounds—as an artist and designer, a technologist, and a professor—to discuss new leadership lessons he learned taking the helm at RISD months before the Great Recession. What are the opportunities and the limits of using social media in the new networked organization? What does leadership even look like today? And how can we adapt and move forward in our ever-changing innovation economy?
The Laws of Simplicity
Finally, we are learning that simplicity equals sanity. We're rebelling against technology that's too complicated, DVD players with too many menus, and software accompanied by 75-megabyte "read me" manuals. The iPod's clean gadgetry has made simplicity hip. But sometimes we find ourselves caught up in the simplicity paradox: we want something that's simple and easy to use, but also does all the complex things we might ever want it to do.
In The Laws of Simplicity, John Maeda offers ten laws for balancing simplicity and complexity in business, technology, and design--guidelines for needing less and actually getting more.Maeda--a professor in MIT's Media Lab and a world-renowned graphic designer--explores the question of how we can redefine the notion of "improved" so that it doesn't always mean something more, something added on.Maeda's first law of simplicity is "Reduce." It's not necessarily beneficial to add technology features just because we can. And the features that we do have must be organized (Law 2) in a sensible hierarchy so users aren't distracted by features and functions they don't need.
But simplicity is not less just for the sake of less. Skip ahead to Law 9: "Failure: Accept the fact that some things can never be made simple." Maeda's concise guide to simplicity in the digital age shows us how this idea can be a cornerstone of organizations and their products--how it can drive both business and technology. We can learn to simplify without sacrificing comfort and meaning, and we can achieve the balance described in Law 10. This law, which Maeda calls "The One," tells us: "Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful."
Maeda @ Media
John Maeda is one of the world's leading experimental graphic designers and is quickly becoming a digital culture icon. His early preoccupation with the intersection of computer programming and digital art has resulted in a fascinating, interactive, and stunningly beautiful collection of work. Maeda has pioneered many of the key expressive elements that are prevalent on the Web today. Among his most well-known works are The Reactive Square, which features a simple black square on a computer screen that changes shape if one yells at it, and Time Paint, in which paint flies across the screen. He has created innovative, interactive calendars, digital services, and advertisements for companies such as Sony, Shiseido, and Absolut Vodka.
This is the first publication to present a complete overview of Maeda's work and philosophy. A glorious visual exploration of ideas and graphic form, Maeda @ Media takes you through Maeda's beginnings in early computerized printouts, to his reactive graphics on CD-ROM, to his dynamic experiments on the Web, to his pedagogical approach to digital visual art, and finally to his overarching quest to understand the very nature of the relationship between technology and creativity. Six thematic chapters provide an overview of his entire career and research. But this is not just a catalog of other work: interspersed between each chapter is a new visual essay that has been created exclusively for this publication to underline each of the major themes. Coming together in a massive 480 pages, printed in a dazzling array of color combinations on three different kinds of paper, the result is a manifesto, a finely crafted manual and inspiration sourcebook all in one.
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