2018 Year-in-Review


This year I saw 4 countries and 13 cities: NYC (home)… Lyon (France) and Portland for conferences… Nashville for work… Ann Arbor, Raleigh, Louisville, Lexington, and Naples (FL) for family… Costa Rica, Los Angeles, Martha’s Vineyard and Montreal for fun. 2018 was a lot!

I started the year in Costa Rica, doing 2+ hours of yoga every day for 2 weeks, and ended up making a yoga postcard that I’ve been meaning to make for 10+ years (since I quit teaching). It shows a series of poses that gives a solid structure for a personal practice. I illustrated 123 little birds, and tried my hand at animation. If you’d like one, please email me, I have extras and love to share them!

A huge highlight was speaking at the IXDA Education Summit in France with my friend and inspiration Jodi Leo. We led a roundtable called “Preserving the Craft of Thinking”, based on our qualitative research with students, teachers, and hiring managers. We stayed on a houseboat in the Saône :)

Another one was finally healing my back pain after many years of confusion. I also got help for some fatigue, with acupuncture, I’m a total believer now.

On the career side, I shipped three huge projects: the launch of the CreativeGuild for CreativeMornings (I helped with UX, product strategy, and project management), the evolution of a customizable ratings-and-reviews platform for TurnTo (I did the product strategy, UX, visual design, and CSS), and the creation of Lists, a new part of Wirecutter (I did research, strategy, design, and managed development as the Senior Product + Design Director for Runyon Design). They’re still not in my portfolio, oops, there’s a first goal for 2019. These projects also marked big steps forward into high-level strategic work (as well as down-in-the-trenches design).

Digital product design and human-centered design strategy requires so much collaboration, and I am so grateful for kind and capable teammates. CreativeMornings is a continued inspiration, I am beyond lucky to have been studiomates with Tina Roth Eisenberg. TurnTo was a perfect client for 3.5 years, I am again indebted to Jodi Leo for the introduction. And I seriously love the brilliant and thoughtful team at Runyon, I’m super grateful my benevolent friend and inspiration Karin Soukup recommended me to them, and very happy to be continuing to work with them in 2019.

On to the educational. I was occupied with client work full-time or more this year, but I still managed to teach and love The Practice of Interaction Design in SVA’s 5-week MFA IXD Summer Intensive for the second year. I helped my friend and inspiration Krystyn Heide take over my 6-credit Digital Product Design studio in Parsons’ MPS Communication Design program, and got to see her enjoy the expanded depth and breadth of practice that comes from teaching.

In self-education, I read 40+ books (and abandoned a few more). My 3 favorites were maybe Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan, and Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert Sapolsky. I kept up with about 10 good email newsletters. I read almost no Instapaper articles, if I didn’t read it immediately on Twitter or another source, it didn’t get read.

I kept up some activist and pro bono work — attending several protests and working with excellent Wordpress developer and friend Pea Lutz on a site redesign (in progress) for the Metropolitan Council on Housing (a tenants’ rights organization).

But the year was really marked by personal progress. I was extremely stressed out as some people I love struggled with serious issues (anorexia, alcoholism), but I asked for help and initiated some difficult conversations and saw the year end in a safer place. (Thank you Tara DeLiberto for the guidance.) I did some group therapy and started individual therapy to continue forcing myself to talk through my emotions instead of just being a workaholic. This is the kind of stuff I struggle to share, fearing the judgement of older generations who see therapy as weakness instead of self-improvement. But, just as my design teaching has come to prioritize “soft” (better labelled “foundational”) skills, I’ve seen the most significant life changes when I improved my own intra/interpersonal relationships. I hope I can continue to live with openness and courage, and we can all share the full spectrum of life beyond work.

Here’s to a full-hearted 2019.

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