Notes on Improvisation and Design

People are improvising. Whether intentional or not, designers are putting forth opportunities for people to engage in frameworks, giving them connections to take advantage of (or not). Liz Danzico explores how these frameworks take hold and what the opportunities are for interaction designers.

CreativeMornings Video: Allan Chochinov of Core77

Our speaker at the February 2010 CreativeMornings was Allan Chochinov, editor-in-chief of My friend Liz Danzico was so generous to fill in for me as the hostess, as I was busy tending to newborn swissmister. She generously hosted the event at the SVA MFA of Interaction space. Thank you again, Liz, and team!

In case you are wondering about Allan’s comment in the beginning: There was a huge snowstorm that morning and the night before the event and we weren’t sure if anyone would show up. But a good 50 brave souls ventured out to enjoy Allan’s fabulous talk (and serenade for Tilo!). It was well worth it, see yourself and watch his presentation:

A big giant thank you to Roland Lazarte who once again has been generously offering his video and editing skills.

If I was a piece of furniture I would be…

At yesterday’s CreativeMornings, with Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan of Apartment Therapy as the speaker, I asked the following question: If I was a piece of furniture I would be …. See more answers over on flickr.

What would you be?

(thank you Sara Wasilausky, for taking the photos)


The guys over at Harvest started a *very* cool monthly event called HOBBY. Every month three fine citizens are invited to talk about their hobbies. Each speaker has 5 minutes to explain their particular recreational pursuit, followed by a 5 minute Q&A with the audience. There will be alcohol, and for one night, the answer to “What do you do?” will not be about your day job. Next event is on Tuesday March 23rd 2010.

Check out some videos from last month’s HOBBY soiree.

The 99% Conference

Last year’s 99% conference was hands-down the most inspiring and impressive conference day I have ever attended. With the exception of only one speaker all of the presentations were absolutely fantastic. I can’t remember walking away from a conference with such a positive impression ever before. Other conferences should definitely learn from Behance’s style of getting the speaker to focus on talking on an overall topic. Every speaker was asked to incorporate their views and ideas on how they get things done, how they make sure ideas are being executed. Having this ‘red thread’, as we say in german, throughout each presentation really tied the day together. It forces the presenter to share their work philosophies and go beyond the usual ‘here’s what I’ve done’ spiel.

If there’s one conference I would recommend going to, it’s the 99% in April, here in NYC. Check out the currently confirmed speakers: Jack Dorsey (Twitter), Stefan Sagmeister (Sagmeister Inc) Fred Wilson (Union Square Ventures), Eve Blossom (Lulan Artisans), John Maeda (Rhode Island School of Design) and Jay O’Callahan (Storyteller).

See you April 15-16?

CreativeMornings Video: Michael Bierut on Clients

Our speaker at the January 2010 CreativeMornings was Michael Bierut of Pentagram hosted at the fabulous Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn. It was our biggest CreativeMornings audience yet with 300 (!) NYC creatives attending. Enjoy Michael’s insightful presentation in the video below. It’s a brand new talk on the subject of “Clients”. A big giant thank you to Roland Lazarte who once again has been generously offering his video and editing skills.

Good Ideas Salon: Seth Godin

Ideas and trends news site PSFK hosts another Good Ideas Salon on the morning of February 4 at Soho House with special guest Seth Godin. Good Ideas Salons are designed to bring likeminds together to share ideas and positivity around certain subjects. For this intimate event, Seth will present his latest book Linchpin and will openly discuss with the audience their experiences as linchpins at work.

PSFK will also orchestrate some (opt-in) match making where attendees will have the opportunity to meet peers who can share knowledge with them and in turn become indispensable at work.

I am thrilled to be attending this event, unless swissmister decides to come early. Let’s hope not.

Join me/us?

What Makes Design Intuitive?

It’s basically, they (the user) will just know what to do. They can walk up to it and know what to do right away, and they don’t feel they would need any training, whether explicit or implicit. It’s obvious.

Video: Jared Spool “What Makes Design Intuitive?”

MFA Interaction Design Spring Lectures: Jared Spool from MFA Interaction Design on Vimeo.

Today’s CreativeMornings with Michael Bierut

Amazing Michael Bierut was today’s CreativeMornings speaker and boy did he set the bar high for any upcoming events. Galapagos was jam-packed with approx 300 attendees, attentively listening to Michael’s brandnew talk about ‘Clients’. A few weeks back, he asked me if I had anything specific in mind for him to talk about, and as I had a particularly bad client experience that day, I basically said: “I would love to hear your wisdom when it comes to dealing and handling clients!” Very much to my surprise, Michael whipped together a fantastic talk about just that. I can not wait to share the talk with you once the video is ready. (For now, you can check out previous talks over at

If you would like to read up on some of the things Michael Bierut had to say in his talk, please refer to the below write-ups:
– by
– by Design is People
– by Hyperfocus
– by something massive

A big thank you to Blurb and Behance for sponsoring breakfast. (Lucky us, Behance handed out their brandnew line of action products which will only go on sale next week! Whee!)

A big virtual wave to Galapagos and their team for hosting this morning’s event. Can a venue be any cooler? Make sure to sign up with their Mailing List so you stay on top of cool happenings at Galapagos DUMBO.

Jon Tan of Analog, located in Bristol UK was our virtual guest this morning. Make sure to check out his blog filled with web typography goodness.

And a big thank you goes to Roland for filming and my dear friend Sara Wasilausky for shooting the morning and Brian Luckey for color-correcting the shots. No idea what I would have done without you all!

You can see the photos of this mornings event over at flickr.

CreativeMornings Video: Charlie Todd

Our speaker at the December 2009 CreativeMornings was Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere hosted at the fantastic Invisible Dog Art Space in Brooklyn. It was one of our most humorous CreativeMorning’s ever, we had many good laughs. Enjoy Charlie’s presentation in the video below, thanks to Roland Lazarte who once again has been generously offering his video and editing skills. Thank you Roland!

12/11 Charlie Todd from CreativeMornings on Vimeo.

Ji Lee: The Transformative Power of Personal Projects

Bored with his ad agency gig and the uninspiring work he was producing, Ji Lee – now Creative Director of Google Creative Lab – decided to take matters into his own hands in 2002. The result was the ad-spoofing Bubble Project, in which Lee placed blank speech bubbles on ads around New York City. The masses responded and the project went viral, gaining Lee recognition and ultimately forwarding his professional career. Here, Lee talks about how he created, financed, and marketed the project single-handedly.

If ever you have the chance to see Ji Lee present in person, please do. He is truly inspiring and I couldn’t agree with him more about the The Transformative Power of Personal Projects.

CreativeMornings with Michael Bierut of Pentagram

How incredibly excited and honored am I to announce our January CreativeMornings speaker, Michael Bierut? (gasp!)

Michael Bierut studied graphic design at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. Prior to joining Pentagram in 1990 as a partner in the firm’s New York office, he worked for ten years at Vignelli Associates, ultimately as vice president of graphic design. His clients at Pentagram have included The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Harley-Davidson, The Minnesota Children’s Museum, The Walt Disney Company, Mohawk Paper Mills, Motorola, Princeton University, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the New York Jets.

Bierut’s work is represented in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Montreal. He has served as president of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) from 1988 to 1990 and is president emeritus of AIGA National. Michael was elected to the Alliance Graphique Internationale in 1989, and was elected to the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame in 2003. Michael is a Senior Critic in Graphic Design at the Yale School of Art. He writes frequently about design and the co-editor of the four-volume series Looking Closer: Critical Writings on Graphicpublished by Allworth Press. In 1998 he co-edited and designed the monograph Tibor Kalman: Perverse Optimist. His commentaries about graphic design in everyday life can be heard nationally on the Public Radio International program “Studio 360.”

This month’s event will be hosted by the folks over at the amazing Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO. If you are not familiar with the space, get ready for a real treat. Also, this will be the first time ever there will be a bar (!) serving Mimosa’s and Bloody Marys. Yes, you read right! We are starting off the new year with a bang!

Interested in attending? Make sure to get your free ticket over on quickly as we usually fill up fast. Please tell us your name and what industry you’re in. CreativeMornings start at 8.30am, end at 10am and are FREE of charge.

A big thank you to this month’s breakfast sponsors Blurb and Behance Outfitter.

At this month’s CreativeMorning Behance Outfitter will be celebrating the launch of a new line of yet-to-be-announced products, designed for productivity. I can’t wait to see what Scott and Matias came up with this time!

Blurb is a company and a community that believes passionately in the joy of books – reading them, making them, sharing them, and selling them. Blurb developed a creative publishing service simple and smart enough to make anyone an author – every blogger, cook, photographer, parent, traveler, poet, pet owner, marketer, everyone. (This means you.)

Be the first to know when r.s.v.p’s open up, follow CreativeMornings on twitter!

Check out pictures of previous CreativeMornings over at Flickr.

View all the taped CreativeMorning talks we’ve put up on the web so far over at Vimeo.

CreativeMornings? ‘CreativeMornings’ is a monthly morning gathering of creative types. Each event includes a 10 minute lecture, followed by a 20 minute group discussion. The gathering begins at 8:30am with the topic presentation starting at 9:00am. The whole thing closes down at 10am. The events are hosted at studios/gallery spaces in NYC. (We are always looking for potential hosts that are willing to accomodate 50+ people. Please email us if you’re interested in hosting or sponsoring one of our events!)

Video: Matt Mullenweg Fireside Chat

I had the pleasure to attend this Fireside Chat between Matt Mullenweg, founder of Automattic and WordPress and Liz Danzico a few weeks back. I was seriously impressed by Matt: he is eloquent, incredibly smart and has a warm personality.

Watch the video for Mullenweg’s insights on design, entrepreneurship, and open source.

(I am so excited that Roland Lazarte who is filming all of our CreativeMorning events is now filming the MFA in Interaction Design Videos. Congrats Roland)

AIGA/NY Fresh Dialogue 25


Come and see me give a short presentation at wednesday’s AIGA’s Fresh Dialogue 25:
wednesday december 16th, 2009
6.30pm – 8.30pm

Every day, if not hour, if not minute, design blogs draw attention to an unprecedented quantity and ever-expanding diversity of design. Join us to hear what four design blog luminaries see as today’s most prominent design trends, including example projects, and stories from the front lines of today’s design world. This will be followed by a critical discussion of how design blogs are changing design, investigating the unintended consequences of self-publishing, and what blogging can achieve for its readers, writers, and the design community at large. Questions for the discussion will be taken via Twitter leading up to and during the event. To pose a question, use the hashtag #freshd or address @freshdialogue.

This event will feature presentations by Khoi Vinh/, Josh Rubin/, Tina Roth Eisenberg/, Allan Chochinov/ with a discussion moderated by Alice Twemlow chair of the SVA design criticism MFA Program and contributing editor at

Make sure to register

When I was a kid I…


Here are a few of the answers of today’s conversation starter tag at this morning’s CreativeMorning with Charlie Todd of ImprovEverywhere. See the entire set of answers here.

What’s your answer?

Chopping Block at TDC this Thursday


The Type Director’s Club is hosting its Holiday Party this thursday along with a Silent Auction. Featuring a special presentation by Matthew Richmond and Thomas Romer of the Chopping Block: “It’s not what you sell, it’s what you make.” Entertaining stories of success & fail at The Chopping Block.

chopping block

Matthew Richmond and Thomas Romer, The Chopping Block (,

The Chopping Block opened its studio doors in 1996 with one ambition—“World Domination Through Graphic Design.” Today, their full-service graphic design firm uses this principle to inform every aspect of their projects. Whether creating identities, interactive, or print, their work has proven that intuitive, engaging design drives solutions and spans mediums. Yes, it takes years of dominating the world one design at a time to achieve this understanding. But their collaboration with clients, and deep knowledge of technology and the competitive landscape allows them to continue to conquer in an industry that is constantly evolving.

To register please email [email protected] or call 1-212-633-8943

Definitely a fun event, not to miss!

Live Taping of Design Matters TV Pilot


Here’s an event you should *not* miss: The taping of “Design Matters” TV Pilot will take place this coming Friday, Dec. 11. I am so incredibly thrilled for Debbie Millman, the lovely host, that Design Matters will soon be making it to the screen. The show will be directed by Hillman Curtis.

The TV show is conceived as a design version of “Inside the Actor’s Studio,” and Millman’s first two interview subjects will be Milton Glaser (the designer who created the “I <3 NY” logo) and Stefan Sagmeister (the only graphic designer to have won a Grammy award and a design award from the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum). After each interview, an audience Q&A will take place.

The pilot taping is free and open to the public—seats will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

School of Visual Arts Theater
333 West 23rd Street
New York City

I am *not* going to miss this, more info here on facebook. See you there?

Stretching, Rewiring & Growing Geometrically

When I saw Jason Randal’s presentation (below) at last year’s fantastic The99%Conference, he definitely got my heartrate up. This man can talk a mile a minute! And he has the most impressive Bio I have ever seen. It’s quite obvious that his boundless passion has led him to develop a jaw-dropping array of specialties. In his kinetic talk, Randal discusses how to use “stretching” to increase memory and focus, the relationship between play and learning, and the transformative power of surrounding yourself with enthusiastic, passionate people.

Come see me speak at Parsons: Networked Design #3

swissmiss talk

Come see me speak this coming Wednesday December 2 at Parsons, as part of the free AAS Graphic Design Networked Design Talk Series:

Tina Roth Eisenberg | 6:30PM
Parsons School of Design,
Kellen Auditorium, 66 Fifth Avenue, Room 101, NYC

About the Networked Design Talks:

With the rise of the Internet over the past few decades we have witnessed the rise of networked culture. The effects of this transition extend far beyond the use of tools: they change the ways we communicate with each other and the ways we manage, construct and perceive our individual and group identities. This cultural shift requires the creative industry to reexamine its use of messages, symbols and aesthetics and to study their function within a constantly changing networked environment. The Networked Design Talks represent the first step of an academic research initiative in this area undertaken by Parsons AAS Graphic Design faculty members led by the Program’s Director, Katarzyna Gruda.

Sponsored by the School of Art, Media & Technology at Parsons, the New School for Design.

FOWD 09 Conference Notes


My friend and studio-mate Cameron Kozcon was so kind to write up some of the talks at this week’s Future of Webdesign Conference (FOWD) which unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend. Cameron was officially my first ‘swissmiss field reporter’ and he did a fantastic job. Here’s his write up (Make sure to check out the individual Talk Stats!)

DAN CEDERHOLM | Progressive Enrichment with CSS3

Summary:You should enhance your sites with little niceties that only the modern browsers will see because it is nice for them, but other browsers won’t miss it. Some things you can do to enrich a site:

  • Style form elements
  • RGBa for simple color choices. Good for background textures.
  • Drop shadows that don’t hurt.
  • Scaling images on hover
  • Transparent links
  • Adding rotation
  • Fade effects in webkit

Presentation Stats:
Slides: 9
Humor: 5
Fashion: 4
Made Me: Wonder
Hair Intensity: 1
YAY! factor: 7
Physical Intimidation: 7

Read the rest of this entry »

CreativeMornings Video: Zachary Lieberman

Our speaker at the October 30th, 2009 CreativeMornings was brilliant and much admired Zachary Lieberman. Zachary has a simple goal: he wants you surprised. He creates artwork that uses technology in a playful and seamless way to explore the nature of communication and the delicate boundary between the visible and the invisible.

(A big thank you to wonderful Roland Lazarte for filming and editing Zach’s Talk.)

Hey Milwaukee! Come see me speak!


Hey Milwaukee! I am so excited to announce an upcoming tomorrow’s speaking engagement in your lovely town! Join me for an AIGA Talk on Friday November 6th, 2009 6:30pm at Hanson Dodge who will be generously hosting the event.

We are lucky to hear from contemporary designer and fresh-as-a-minute blogger extraordinaire Tina Roth Eisenberg. Counting her blog Swiss Miss as a vibrant part of her business model, Eisenberg is a Swiss designer who now resides in New York City. She studied design in Geneva and Munich and has worked at several prominent NYC design firms, including Thinkmap, where she was Design Director and helped design the award-winning Visual Thesaurus. Eisenberg now runs her own studio, with recent clients including the Museum of Modern Art and the Food Network. The self-proclaimed “Swiss Miss” says, “My aesthetics reveal my Swiss roots – I am a firm believer in white space and clean, elegant design.” Tina Roth Eisenberg is a well-rounded, gregarious and energetic designer and true lover of design. She will share insights into the work she’s done in New York City and how her blog has opened many doors.

Register Now! See you on November 6th! Yay!

Did you know I live in Kansas?

Last night I attended the Parsons Networked Design Talk organized by the Parsons AAS Graphic Design Program in which I am an adjunct professor.

So, picture this: The presentation is in full swing and the founders of are talking about the latest redesign of their site and show a “Persona” that their design studio (Area17) put together. And guess what, the picture on this made up persona is ME! I almost fell off my chair laughing.

It’s quite funny to go to a talk of people you have never met, no know much about and then boom, you see yourself on the big screen. In their Presona Profile my name is Janice Hampton, I live in Kansas, am 42 and am considered a “Life Long Hobbyist”. Oh, and I am a bank teller.

Here’s a picture I snapped:

(One of the designers at Area17 is a friend of mine and grabbed the images of flickr. Exactly what I do when I need to come up with a Persona-Face. Thanks for the laugh, Kemp!)

Fixing Conferences

fixing conferences

“I’ve realized that I can’t stand conferences. To me, conferences are akin to watching television without Tivo, or going to AAA to get a triptik instead of mapping a journey on Google. Conferences are an old workhorse model–a mix of passive consumption and fluorescent lighting–that is at odds with the seeds of inspiration they are supposed to inspire.”

Fixing Conferences: Six Lessons From the Designers Accord Summit, by Valerie Casey