More about who I am?
I am a designer. In the past 20 plus years, I have found myself in many roles, first as an entry level graphic designer, then managing a team, business development, teaching design, the business of design, consulting, always remaining curious to know more about what drives good design. Labels such as graphic designer, web designer, environmental graphic designer, and interaction designer have all had their day and I still struggle with which I am on some level. I am a generalist at heart so my “T” shape knowledge base tends to shift at times. My goal to major in sculpture, graphic design and economics as an undergraduate is one example, though ultimately it was graphic design. At the end of the day I see the world through an aesthetic or visual lens first, then words, and so on. I solve problems visually, explaining the world and solutions through diagrams, images and thinking about the larger system implications of design. My core is graphic design and it is the compass that helps guide me and to understand the world around me.
What am I doing?
I am currently the Director of Research & Technology and a Senior Lecturer for the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. One hat is a management role in higher education, involved with supporting faculty research projects across the school, overseeing information technology and the other is teaching communication design. I graduated from this school so I am invested deeply in its long term success, the staff, students, and an amazing group of designers, illustrators, artist, and architects, along with countless other disciplines across the university that inspire me every day. I am also fortunate to teach a class each semester which keeps me connected to the mission of the school and always learning myself.
What am I thinking about?
Over the years I have found myself reading and thinking mostly about the intersection of design, technology and innovation. My reading lists range from understanding grid systems, typography, and color, to – more recently – entering the strategy side of design, or the large and evolving buckets of service design and design thinking that intersect technology, business and people. A common thread is learning about process. I admire people like Hugh Dubberly and his process maps for play and creativity or his compendium of design processes from many disciplines. While artists and designers are often perceived as having a mysterious creative process, the things they make and conceive do follow a sequence of steps. The steps may constantly change as the complexity of challenges shift, but there is still a process. Designers of all disciplines continue to do a better job of communicating process bringing greater value to the discipline.
Where am I from?
I was born in Puerto Vallarta Mexico. I grew up on a small island beach called Majahuitas just south of the main town. That story is one for a book in the future. Basically, I was in paradise until I left for boarding school at the age of twelve. I spent time on the northeast coast then landed in St. Louis to pursue my BFA in graphic design at Washington University in St. Louis. I left to work for an architecture firm in New York City, then helped start an affiliated graphic design practice. I was invited back to teach at Washington University and worked on a bunch of entrepreneurial projects with students and faculty. I attended graduate school online for an MA in Design Management at SCAD and many other adventures. I have a wife and three kids, a dog, cat, fish and far too much work to do on a 1908 brick house.
Have more questions? Drop me a line at vondesign at gmail dot com.