Whiskey Series Takes Inspiration From Wild West


Born in upstate New York but “like many freedom loving Americans before him,” Josh Jevons made the journey west. Now based in Denver CO, Jevons has used this as an inspiration for packaging for the Grand Teton Distillery that captures the spirit of the Wild West.


The series visualizes stories and myths of legendary pioneers, frontiersmen and adventurers of the wild American west. Says Jevons: “From Teddy Roosevelt’s dagger-clad bout with a puma to a bloodthirsty manhunt by Blackfoot tribesmen, these labels celebrate the western spirit of adventure, tenacity and grit.”


The labels feature custom diecuts and metallic ink, and feature custom illustrations and handcrafted type. Continues Jevons: “The aesthetic is intended to communicate the rugged nature of the stories as well as the place in which the whiskeys are made, the Teton mountains, while maintaining a modern feel.”


This article originally appeared in GDUSA.

Where Are We At With Recycling?


By: Dr. Andrew H. Dent

A quiet revolution is now occurring in the world of recycling that has been presaged for some time now but became significant at the start of this year. If we are lucky, it might produce a sea-change in the way we think about how we package our products.

Normally, both in the US and EU, various types of lower quality packaging and other waste was sold to China as a resource for different secondary uses, like the production of recycled products. In recent years, China has been taking about half the world’s paper and plastic recyclables, but as of January of this year, National Sword has banned 24 different types of solid waste. At current rates, the shipment of these types of resources to China are down a whopping 97%.

So, what does this mean? Well, it meddles with many of the recycling statistics which assumed that shipping waste to China, but it also affects many recycling businesses, with container ships of waste material essentially stranded without a place to unload, and most likely, vastly reduced revenues. Europe has not been spared either, as approximately 12% of its waste had also been making the same trip to Chinese ports.


But what initially seemed like a disaster for the recycling industry might just prove to be a real turning point. With the ongoing concerns throughout the world regarding the amount of waste being deposited into our oceans, it may be the push we need to get everyone moving in the right direction when it comes packaging.

On April 11, 2018, the Plastic Industry Association and 11 other partner associations delivered a request for the House to advance an infrastructure investment package to address the US need for better recycling efforts and innovation. High on the list is a request for improvements to be made in facilities so that they can sort waste more efficiently and selectively. Additionally, money is getting spent by many of the big players to improve materials, infrastructure, and education with companies such as Amazon, International Paper, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and others spending big to create a more circular economy when it comes to packaging.

European Union regulators declared a new policy agenda in late January of this year starting with the goal that all plastic packaging on the market will be recyclable or reusable by 2030. They’ve also declared war on single-use plastics such as straws, bottles that do not degrade, coffee cups, lids and stirrers, cutlery and takeaway containers as Europeans produce 25 million tons of plastic waste annually, but less than 30% of it is recycled.


Interestingly enough, Chinese companies are starting recycling facilities in America, seeing the potential for a greater amount of specialized recycling within the continental US. Ecomelida Inc., the United States subsidiary of China-based Zhangzhou Sanlida Environmental Technology Corp., intends to locate its first facility handling marketable paper and plastic scrap separated from beverage cartons, aseptic packaging and paper mill pulp byproducts in South Carolina. The recycled plastics extracted, largely polyethylene (PE), will be used in foam, cast plastic parts, and other products.

The actual recycling itself is getting more efficient too with chemical recycling of plastics creating virgin sources by companies such as Perpetual in the US and the DEMETO consortium in the EU. Additionally, improved sorting of paper-based products such as gable tops (the Tropicana type poly-coated paper cartons) is progressing as well. Waste Management, Tropicana Products, Dean Foods and select carton manufacturers have launched a program in which residents can discard these containers in regular recycling bins at no additional charge. Started in Florida, this program has been expanded to communities across the US.


This combined effort that springs from concerns about our oceans as well as the bottom line for recyclers will precipitate a new approach to the treatment of our packaging and waste in general, forcing governments, brands, designers and even consumers to bring about a real change in the way we value these materials.


Dr. Andrew H. Dent

Dr. Andrew Dent is Executive Vice President of Research at Material ConneXion, and Chief Material Scientist at SANDOW. He plays a key role in the expansion of Material ConneXion’s technical knowledge base. His research directs the implementation of consulting projects and the selection of innovative, sustainable and advanced materials to Material ConneXion’s library, which currently houses over 8,000 material samples.

Dr. Dent received his Ph.D. in materials science from the University of Cambridge in England. Prior to joining Material ConneXion, Dr. Dent held a number of research positions both in industry and academia. At Rolls Royce PLC, Dr. Dent specialized in turbine blades for the present generation of jet engines. He has completed postdoctoral research at Cambridge University and at the Center for Thermal Spray Research, SUNY, Stony Brook, NY. Other research projects, during this period, included work for the US Navy, DARPA, NASA, and the British Ministry of Defense.

Since joining Material Connexion, Dr. Dent has helped hundreds of clients—from Whirlpool and Adidas to BMW and Procter & Gamble—develop or improve their products through the use of innovative materials. A leading expert on sustainable materials, his insight has played an important part in creating a new generation of more sustainable products.

He is a frequent speaker on sustainable and innovative material strategies, having given two TED talks at TEDx Grand Rapids and TEDNYC, and is the co-author of the Material Innovation book series. Dr. Dent has also contributed to numerous publications on the subject of material science, including Business Week, Fast Company and the Financial Times.

This article originally appeared in Dieline.

60-Second Super-Cool Fold of Another Week

Nearly 300 episodes strong, thousands of professionals around the globe look forward to my weekly dose of folded inspiration.

Get a sample of her inspirations here and also at the VMA Design Conference June 15 in San Francisco.

The 7 Habits Of Highly Creative People

The most commonly held belief about creativity is that it’s elusive, esoteric and unique only to the anointed few.

The ancient Greeks believed that creativity was this divine attendant spirit that came to human beings from some distant and unknowable source, for distant and unknowable reasons. They called these spirits daemons. The Romans had a similar idea as well but called the spirit a genius.

Centuries later, not much has changed. The only difference is that we no longer attribute creativity to divine spirits, but to special individuals. We think that it’s only Beethoven, Picasso and Mozart who have creative genius.

Except that’s not true.

Today, we deconstruct and analyse even the most elusive of processes. We come to understand that there are specific behaviours and mindsets which anyone can use to reach a desired result.

Here are the seven behaviours of highly creative people.

1. Steal Like An Artist

There is a truth that the aspiring creative must first recognise. We need only turn to Austin Kleon’s book, Steal Like an Artist, to learn this:

“What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere. All creative work builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original.”

One must realise that the idea and inspiration for a piece of work comes from many sources at once. Every new idea is just a mashup or a remix of previous ideas. It’s why, quoting Jonathan Lethem, Kleon writes that “when people call something ‘original,’ nine out of ten times they just don’t know the references or the original sources involved.”

Hence the recommendation — steal like an artist.

The good artist emulates the style of another as closely as he can. The great artist selects elements from others’ work and incorporates them into his own mix of influences. He does so tastefully, knowing that the right fusion will create something that is uniquely his, although not completely original.

So learn to steal like an artist — the entire world is up for grabs.

2. Always Be Researching

To find something worth stealing, one must look in the right places.

Input facilitates output. There’s no getting around that. The quality of the information one consumes determines the quality of work one will produce.In a world where noise often drowns out the signal, finding the best ideas can often be difficult.

There are two ways to get around this. The first is what Kleon calls branching, which is useful for exploring variations of an idea.

“Chew on one thinker. Study everything there is to know about that thinker. Then find three people that thinker loved, and find out everything about them. Repeat this as many times as you can. Climb up the tree as far as you can go.”

That’s not the only method of sieving out valuable ideas. Originality stems from creating something that has never been seen before. Which is why bestselling author Ryan Holiday turns to the classics whenever he is in doubt.

Classic pieces are ‘classic’ for a reason. They’ve survived the test of time. The philosophy of Stoicism goes back to the ancient Greeks, but Holiday showed how those ideas are relevant today in his books Ego Is The Enemy and The Obstacle Is The Way. He didn’t come up with those ideas; he applied them.

It’s not enough to just observe your surroundings. The creative actively seek out the best ideas from all places. They’re always researching.

3. Enter New Domains

As we gain more experience and expertise in our work, we become more entrenched in a particular way of viewing the world. It makes us more efficient as we eliminate part of the thinking process, but the downside is that we become less receptive to new ideas and less responsive to changes.

It’s as Abraham Maslow observed: he that is good with a hammer tends to think everything is a nail.

That’s a death sentence for any creative who hopes to do good work. It’s also the surest way for a company to go out of business within the next few years.

Search engines had existed long before Google along, but were limited in use because the results displayed weren’t what users wanted. Google changed that when it adopted a new approach for returning results, choosing to focus on quality rather than popularity.

The inspiration for this change? Academic publishing.

In the academic world, one can easily determine the quality and relevance of a paper by how often it is cited. The best research papers rise to the top, while the more limited ones fade into obscurity. It was an elegant idea which Larry Page was only too happy to introduce into Google’s search algorithm. It’s now known in the world of Search-Engine Optimisation (SEO) as back-links.

Original and creative solutions don’t always come from reinventing the wheel. Rather, it comes from developing innovative applications, not imagine completely new concepts.

You can start by finding two completely different ideas and combining them.

Or as James Altucher puts it: have idea sex.

4. Be More Prolific

Thomas Edison was famous for being relentless in experimenting. The sheer quantity of his experiments would eventually result in him holding the record for having the most patents — over 1090 in his name. Picasso painted over 20,000 works. Bach composed at least one work a week.

Most of these works never amounted to much. They were creations which the average man on the street would never have taken a second look at. It turns out that none of us can accurately predict which ideas will hit and which will miss.

The solution? Produce so much work that one piece will inevitably stick. If only one idea for every ten that you come up with is good, all it means is that you should be working on a hundred ideas to come up with ten good ones.The same goes for writing, composing, or painting.

It’s widely assumed that there’s a trade-off between quantity and quality — if you want to do better work, you have to do less of it — but this turns out to be false. Quantity breeds quality. The act of creating something, no matter how lousy, is practice for creating a better one.

And that’s why Steve Jobs rightly said, “real artists ship”.

5. Give Yourself Permission To Suck

Creating more work sounds like a good idea in theory, but it’s difficult in application. The single and most important reason is that we don’t give ourselves permission to suck.

Stephen Pressfield knows this too. IThe War of Art, he names the fear that all creatives have — he calls it the Resistance.

“The amateur, on the other hand, over-identifies with his avocation, his artistic aspiration. He defines himself by it. He is a musician, a painter, a playwright.Resistance loves this. Resistance knows that the amateur composer will never write his symphony because he is overly invested in its success and over-terrified of its failure. The amateur takes it so seriously it paralyses him.”

The problem is that we’ve been trained to tie our self-worth to our accomplishments. If that’s the case, who then, would willingly create a piece of work that would be used to judge him?

For this reason, Pressfield says that we must turn from amateur to professional. Only then can we produce truly creative work.

“Resistance wants us to stake our self-worth, our identity, our reason-for-being, on the response of others to our work. Resistance knows we can’t take this. No one can. The professional blows critics off. He doesn’t even hear them. Critics, he reminds himself, are the unwitting mouthpieces of Resistance.”

The way to creativity is to create a lot, and the way to create a lot is to give ourselves permission to suck. People will forget the mistakes and garbage we make, but will remember our best works.

6. Embrace Constraints

There are many barriers that can prevent us from creating a good piece of work. But the essence of creativity is making do with what we have. In fact, Austin Kleon suggests that it is necessary:

“Nothing is more paralysing than the idea of infinite possibilities. The best way to get over creative block is to simply place some constraints on yourself.”

He goes on to explain how having less helps us:

“One, getting really good at creative work requires a lot of time and attention, and that means cutting a lot of fluff out of your life so that you have that extra time and attention. And two, creativity in our work is often a matter of what we choose to leave out, rather than leave in — what is unspoken vs. spoken, what isn’t shown vs. what is, etc.”

Constraints are not the enemy. Many creatives understood that and went on to produce masterpieces because of constraints, not despite them.

Dr. Seuss was challenged to write a children’s book with only 50 words. The result was Green Eggs and Ham, which went on to sell over 200 million copies.Having constraints was so vital to fuelling creativity that Dr Seuss would set his own limits to work with for his other books. For example, The Cat In The Hat was written using only a first-grade vocabulary list.

But perhaps the most famous example is Hemingway’s six word story. Nobody is likely to forget For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn anytime soon.

7. Develop Your Ritual

Creativity doesn’t come easily.

The process is frustrating. There’s hardly a good barometer with which we can use to measure our progress. It’s elusive. It’s why we give ourselves a pass whenever we can’t come up with good ideas or do any creative work.

But what does the architect, the lawyer, or the doctor do when they aren’t inspired? They still get down to work.

It’s essential then that we create a routine or ritual which we can rely on. Systems work, and prevent us from falling victim to our mood. The painter, Chuck Close was unequivocal on this point:

“Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will — through work — bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great art [idea].[…]If you hang in there, you will get somewhere.”

Creativity is a process. There’s a system that one can apply methodically to generate good ideas. It’s not an esoteric field that is the sole domain of the genius. But one must do the work, no matter how difficult.

Just remember Chuck Close’s last line — if you hang in there, you will get somewhere.

National Geographic Redesigns Print Edition


National Geographic‘s May issue marks the unveiling of its most significant redesign in nearly two decades, increasing the quality of its paper stock, introducing a new front-of-book section, and creating additional room for the photography and visual storytelling that are at the core of the brand. The iconic yellow border is retained and referenced. “The new National Geographic delivers the same sense of wonder readers expect but with a bolder, more provocative, more captivating eye,” said editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg.



To develop the new design and the strategy around it, Goldberg, along with Emmet Smith, creative director for the magazine, teamed with Godfrey Dadich Partners who helped conceive the look  and feel of the new features, as well as a pair of new typefaces that debut with the redesign. “This next evolution of National Geographic brings to bear the full set of tools available to the contemporary magazine,” adds Smith. “It allows us to more fully showcase the spectacular work of our photographers, reporters, and artists — and, in turn, provide an even better magazine for our readers.”


The design firm grew out of a project to redesign WIRED magazine when Scott Dadich was editor and asked Patrick Godfrey headed his own studio. “It was an honor for us to collaborate on such an iconic brand – to dive into a 130-year history of cartography, photography, typefaces, and journalism, then design a new kind of magazine for today,” comments Dadich. “Redesigning the magazine enhances its ability to deepen people’s understanding of the world and their role in it.”


This article originally appeared in GDUSA.

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Nearly 300 episodes strong, thousands of professionals around the globe look forward to Trish’s weekly dose of folded inspiration. Get a sample of her inspirations here and also at the VMA Design Conference June 15 in San Francisco.

Pentagram rebrands Battersea dogs and cats home to visualize “personality over sentiment”


Pentagram has rebranded London’s dogs and cats charity Battersea, introducing a “family” of watercolour illustrated characters as its icons. Led by partners Marina Willer and Naresh Ramchandani, the rebrand of the renowned charity includes it dropping the “dogs and cats home” from its name, and introducing a tagline “Here for every dog and cat”. The identity intends to visualise the charity’s commitment to unconditionally care for all the animals that come through its doors.

The rebrand retains Battersea’s signature blue colour, used across abstract illustrations to represent a variety of dogs and cats, and subtly communicate the charity’s story. The illustrations are pared back and devoid of facial features, while remaining expressive and showing individuality. “They appeal to people’s compassion and humanity, without victimising or stigmatising the animals,” Pentagram explains. The sharp wordmark aims to balance the aesthetic of these hand-drawn images, employing the typeface Franklin Gothic, which Pentagram says “injects an element of authority” to the identity.

The thinking behind removing “dogs and cats home” from the name stems from the word “home” implying a permanent dwelling for the animals, when in fact the intention of the charity is to re-home them with families. Pentagram also says it wrongly implies the charity operates in just one location, as opposed to its three sites.

Pentagram worked with Battersea to develop the brand strategy, tone of voice and visual identity to present the charity “as both a compassionate caregiver and a leading authority in animal welfare, creating a brand that strikes a balance between warmth and expertise,” the design studio states. Its approach was to “strike out against” negative connotations used by the charity sector such as “shock tactics, well-worn tropes, and euphemistic and overly-sentimental language,” preferring a honest and straightforward image. This includes a suite of portrait photography that “puts personality over sentiment”, showing the eclectic creatures that can be found in its homes.

The branding was also designed to be flexible, to adapt to various campaigns and fundraising initiatives, for example Muddy Dog. For this campaign, the identity is given a “playful spin” using a hand-drawn typeface “Battersea Paws” and tongue-in-cheek headlines.

Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand
Pentagram: Battersea rebrand

Creating Empathy in an Artificial World

Written by Sherine Kazim

Ever since I wrote that piece Emotive UI about designing intention and reaction for the full spectrum of 32 emotions, one thing continues to plague me: empathy. There’s no doubt that the best experience designers are highly empathetic. They have an incredible ability to interpret and relate to users which, in turn, helps them create more engaging interactions. Paramount to these experiences is personalization — always giving the impression that each interaction is unique and specifically catered to that particular user. These days, designing with personal data is table stakes, but what about personality data? Is it possible to design for personality in order to create higher levels of empathy?

MIT Professor Rosalind W. Picard, wrote about Affective Computing in 1995 and described it as the ability to simulate empathy. Its premise relies on a machine’s ability to adapt and respond appropriately to human emotions. These emotions are derived from human behavior. By behavior, I mean the ways in which a person communicates aspects of their personality, either through implicit or explicit actions.

Typically, behavior and interaction among humans is mostly implicit — passive emotions and expressions. Subtle cues are manifested through voice, gestures, meaning, and language. All of which form a person’s unique personality. If we downplay the implicit piece, and not simultaneously take into account the five senses which help us process communication, we could easily misinterpret someone’s behavior, misidentify their emotion, and ultimately miss a connection. Further, without fully realizing how the data relates to each other and the message, we will assume user intention.

Relationship data stems from our sensory streams working together so we can analyze, understand and emotionally respond to any given situation. For example, if someone uses non-threatening language, while speaking softly and avoiding eye contact, we may infer from those three sensory streams that this person is shy. In turn, we may consider a measured response with non-confrontational verbal and emotional language. If, for whatever reason, we lack confidence in our potential responses, we can seek out more relationship data — content and context — for further analysis and validation.

For empathetic experience designers, data sets are our new palettes. In particular, relationship data which helps us develop our human intuition, will be at the forefront of machine prediction. With Apple purchasing emotion-focused startup Emotient, and facial recognition startup Realface, it appears that our design future will emphasize personality-driven data. This is important because having geographic, contextual, demographic, psychographic, and analytics data — the hallmarks of personalization — won’t be enough anymore. Instead, we’ll have to contend with an increased hunger for human data. We’ll continue to see AI materialize on various physical and digital platforms allowing us to determine the user’s emotional state far better than any empathetic designer can do with just user interviews and audits.

To successfully define personality as it relates to communication, designers will now have to combine four different types of behavioral data:

  • Gestural Data. The way we would identify conversational tone via face and hand motions.
  • Physiological Data. The way we would measure heart rate, blood pressure and skin temperature.
  • Facial Recognition. The way we would verify a person, and interpret their emotions and expressions.
  • Deep Learning. The way we would understand speech, and how language is used.

It’s that potent mix of personal and personality data that will give way to hyper-customized experiences. It’s a mix that could ultimately help us determine the user’s intention.

Let’s pretend that we’re monitoring physiological data and we see that a user’s blood pressure spikes a split second before the opening line of a conversation with a customer service rep. We might assume that the customer is upset, but we would still be uncertain as to why or his intention. Is he angry, nervous or pressed for time? Will he yell, punch or intimidate? No idea. For us to understand his intention, we’d have to access a greater portion of his everyday life — everything he interacts with online and offline so we can determine patterns of behavior. All of those data streams would need to be tracked and analyzed so we could get a sense of his big picture. Only then could we organize appropriate communication and responsibly adjust it to fit his personality. Essentially, personality data is making the case for creating a master algorithm.

“When faced with a machine, humans talk like a machine.”

Besides creating the master algorithm, in order for companies to better understand their users, they will need to create emotion databases. This will be time consuming because it relies on someone (yes, a human) to determine facial expressions. It’s highly subjective — literally someone is tagging someone else who is posing and acting out those emotions. That info is then validated by an expert (yes, another human). The issue is that the interpretation is only as good as the actor. It’s difficult to capture spontaneous, dissipation and faint transition of emotions. It’s challenging to understand why, measure how, and guess when they’re about to happen. And, it’s overwhelming for the people tasked with tagging the emotions of thousands, millions, eventually billions, of users.

Second, let’s be honest, the hardware and software for facial recognition just isn’t quite there yet. Ask anyone in law enforcement and they’d be hard-pressed to disagree. While it’s passable for identifying broad characteristics, it will have to get better for us to pick up on the subtleties of expression. China’s Face++ is promising, and if we continue to improve the platforms while combining it with AI, this should prove to be one of the most powerful breakthroughs in technology and an essential to determining personality.

Finally, we’re still mastering natural language when it comes to interacting with devices. For some reason, when faced with a machine, humans talk like a machine. When we talk to Amazon’s Echo, we usually say: “Alexa, [wait for response indicator] “what’s the weather today?” But, when we talk to an actual human near us, we tend to say things like “Hey, what’s it like outside?”No name. No pause. No time. All context is assumed. Interacting with machines is unavoidable, so we need to design them to act and react in a more human-like way — give it unique personalities — ones which compliment our own personality and can adapt to our emotions. When the Mini Cooper car was reintroduced in 2002, one of the most delightful brand experiences was the voice interface. Drivers were able to pick a gender and an accent for how the car’s navigation system would communicate with them. Although the voices were all programmed to give the exact same responses, there was something magical about picking one, about identifying the personality of a passenger that we wanted to join us on our journey. It was a great start, and it’s good to know that empathetic experience designers are still the ones in the driver’s seat.

This article originally appeared on Sherine Kazim’s Website. You can hear more of her muses at the VMA Design Conference on June 15th in San Francisco. Join us.

An Introduction to Emotive UI

Written by Sherine Kazim

Historically, emotion has been thought of as a byproduct of design — not something that drives the user experience. But emotion is actually a critical new dimension in UI, and one for which designers are ultimately responsible.

There are certain things designers want you to feel when you use their products, and you can hear it in the way they talk. Designers often say: “We want to surprise and delight our users.” But really, that’s just scratching the surface. Humans are a mess of emotions — and designers are going to have to learn to engage with all of them.

Robert Plutchik, an academic psychologist who (literally) wrote the textbook on emotions, in 1980 introduced the concept of eight basic emotions — joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness, disgust, anger, and anticipation. His “wheel of emotions” shows the interplay of those emotions, and their varying levels of intensity.

The form of UI that most accurately reflects our emotional spectrum today is emojis. Here’s an emoji-based version of the wheel I created for a recent presentation on Emotive UI:

You can see in the chart that there is a dissipation of intensity that happens as you move further out on the wheel, and in design, nobody is talking yet about that. We currently design things that make people feel basic emotions — maybe joy or sadness — but we don’t talk about how we should adjust the UI according to how the user’s emotions may be intensifying or dissipating.

We tend to create products that aim for the center-wheel emotions, because it’s the easiest thing to convey. We rarely think about the full spectrum, and we don’t think about the dissipation. Currently, most designers think about the design intention and the user reaction: “I want to make you happy,” and the user is happy.

But here’s what a user interaction might look like in the real world:

When someone designed this particular object (a mailbox flag), they weren’t thinking about emotion. They were thinking about an object. Then along comes a user — Ralph Wiggum — and he clearly thinks, “Hey, this looks like a really fun thing to do.” Once the flag is down and the fun is over, you watch that emotion dissipate. In Ralph’s case, he even transitions to another emotion: sadness. That whole spectrum happens in a three-second GIF: Ralph is feeling joy — but from a design point of view, we never got around to addressing the more intense ecstasy, or less intense serenity, even though Ralph went through all those emotions, and more. We need to start intentionally designing for every single emotion that Ralph is going through.

What that forces us to do is fine-tune communication between people and products — to design for a primary emotion as well as its dissipation — and the relationship we have there. Ultimately, we’re trying to make deeper, more meaningful connections with the user and the best way to do that is to fully understand and manage their emotional spectrum.


Designing for emotion can be subjective, but here’s one example of something that gave me joy:

 Things bounce around, there’s bright color and movement and music that brings back amazing memories from when I was a kid. I even get to make something that’s a direct reflection of myself. The design intention is pure ecstasy, and the user reaction, pure ecstasy.


Or what about designing for fear — what does that look like? It’s difficult to come up with examples, but I found one instance when I was in a Seoul train station — and it’s an example of designing for fear, gone wrong.

I remember sitting there looking at this piece and thinking, “OK, I don’t speak Korean but clearly I am supposed to run away from a bomb, run away from an explosion. Not sure why I’m running toward the trees.” I’m not entirely sure what I should do, and it seems the intention was to deliver the information in a neutral way. But my reaction to it was “Holy shit, I’m not getting on that train, because I don’t want to be anywhere near where these things can happen.” Absolute terror. You start to feel the responsibility of the designer in considering the emotions of the user — in this case, the person viewing the sign.

Or, think about designing for anticipation. Look at the Japan Quake Map. It’s relatively old, but it’s still very powerful. The UI of the quake map shows the quake depth. You see the clock running, but beyond that, there’s nothing else going on — until you’ve waited for a couple of minutes:


That first day is the day Fukushima hit, five years ago. Without even realizing it, the data itself is managing to not just create anticipation, but also elicit an emotion — grief. All that with very few UI cues. That wasn’t intentional, but it illustrates why we need to take responsibility when we create something to put in front of a user.

Surprise is a tricky one because I rarely agree with surprising a user in the interface, with one exception: games. When it comes to games, surprise can be paramount to their success.


Who would think to put an apple in front of a sleepwalker to stop him from hurting himself? It’s gorgeous, interesting, and wonderfully surprising.

What’s interesting is I could hit on only 50% of the basic emotions — not to mention all the others on the rest of the wheel. There’s no clean way to capture that stuff in UI currently — at least, not visually. That’s because, as designers, we’ve done such an excellent job simplifying visual UI. But soon, products will become more multidimensional, so they have their own personalities, just like users do.

“We have a finite set of emotions, and there will never be another sadness 2.0.”

As AI becomes more prevalent in our lives, it’s only going to get more complex, because we’ll need to focus on the personality of the user and how it interacts with the personality of the AI. We can no longer solely rely on just the visual representation of the UI.

This is good because it will ultimately allow us to form a more reciprocal relationship between the user and the brain behind the interface as we move away from screens.

It’s challenging, but know this: Products and platforms will change, but our spectrum of emotion will not change. This is the key takeaway — that we have a finite set of emotions, and there will never be a sadness 2.0. It’s actually great that we have that constraint to work within because it’s going to help us design better product relationships for the future. It’s not just about designing for intention and reaction — it’s about understanding the full spectrum of emotion and the dissipation of each one, so we can start to develop true product personalities.

The minute we design for all the variations of basic emotions, we know we’re heading toward solid territory for future design.

This article originally appeared on Sherine Kazim’s Website. You can hear more of her muses at the VMA Design Conference on June 15th in San Francisco. Join us.


How I transitioned from a graphic designer to front-end developer in 5 months

👉 中文版連結 (Chinese Version)

2017 was a bumpy yet exciting year for me. I left my graphic designer job in March, and entered the maze of the coding world. Five months later, I finally got a job as a front-end developer at Tenten.co.

Having been a full-time front-end developer for six months, I’d like to share my story of why and how I pivoted my life path. This is for those who might be as helpless but ambitious as I am.

To be clear, this post is not written from the perspective of a seasoned developer or designer who’s able to illustrate a clear road map to follow. Neither is it a crash course for learning front-end development. There are lots of great tutorials on this topic, and I will list some later in the article.

Remember, the perfect (universal) path for all individuals does not exist.

My Background

My Behance page

I was a 24 year old graphic designer with no experience related to coding at all. In my school days, my exam scores of math, physics, chemistry and science were horribly low. These subjects scared me with dull and complex formulas, numbers, and errors. Things that interested me back then were always the beauty created by paint, music, or words. Naturally, I chose English as my major, and got fascinated by literature, culture, photography and design in college.

How I learned how to design in college by myself and finally became a graphic designer after graduation is story for another day. The point is, throughout my entire life until last year, I’d dreamed of being a writer, photographer, film critic, singer and designer, but I never thought of being a developer under any circumstances.

Why I Wanted to Code

For me, graphic design serves the purpose of solving a problem with attractive visual forms supported by invisible systems or structures.

As the world is facing so many critical issues, I believe that problem-solving design thinking can and should help deal with some of these issues. Of course I was only trying to layout something beautiful the first time I opened Photoshop. Yet, the more I learned about design, the more I craved to engage in critical issues with graphic design.

But, after many endeavors to achieve my ambition, I was deeply disappointed at the impact that graphic design could make in Taiwan (or maybe the whole world?).

Design & Thinking Official Trailer by Muris Media. The documentary tells the power of design thinking.

There’s no doubt that I’m still aware of the power and importance of great design. But most of the time, designers are only allowed to deal with the “client’s problem,” instead of tackling “real problems client have.” Designers spend most of the time guessing their client’s wishes with no profound data and analysis, but only intuition, experience, or common sense.

I got tired of this game two years into my graphic design career.

That’s when I decided to take a serious look at the always trending front-end development topic on Medium.


Design in Tech Report in 2017 by John Maeda. This report taught me the potential impact a computational designer could make could be way more than a classic one.

I found that being a developer with design skills allowed you to have way more control and authority over each case and client. Besides, working on web development or applications allows you to efficiently propagate information.

I left my graphic design job at the end of February. With no elaborate plan and limited saving in the bank, I started my journey of transforming into a front-end developer.

What to Do

Taking the first step is always hard. But if you recognize what the reason propelling you is, things get simpler. For example, if your purpose of becoming a developer is getting paid better ASAP, then you should learn the hot stuff in the market.

In my case, because I realized that my current goal was to earn the power to combine design with development skills, I focused on showcasing both abilities.

So, I set a goal, and made a list of required tasks with my shallow understanding of front-end development:

List of skills I wanted to learn and the rough plan I sketched on paper

1. Goal

Get a front-end developer job

2. How to achieve the goal

Build my portfolio site for showcasing my ability

3. Tasks to do

  • Learn HTML, CSS, jQuery/JavaScript
  • Design portfolio site
  • Portfolio works preparation

I assigned only these tasks for myself at first. But as I read more articles, tutorials, or job requirements, I put these skills on the list along the way:

  • Sass
  • Gulp
  • CS50
  • Basic Unix
  • Basic WordPress
  • Jekyll
  • Basic AWS knowledge
  • Basic networking knowledge

Note: To be sure, the exploding information on web bombed me with more things to learn. In the five months, I had once put Node.js, React.js, PHP and more on the list. The tasks above were the ones that I actually completed in the end.

My Toggl report from March to July in 2017

To follow the plan, I set a 48hr/week working goal for myself. It meant I had to work eight hours a day with only one day off in a week. Toggl helped me keep track of my performance.

Asana for schedule

Also, I took a long-term goal -> monthly goal -> weekly agenda -> daily agendamethod to make my learning schedule, and Asana was my best assistant on managing these tasks.

Where to Learn

I tried to learn from many platforms, tutorials, or articles along the way. Here’s the list of the resources and my thoughts to each of them:

Learning Platforms

Back then, I hated the tutorials that showed me lines of codes I didn’t have any idea what to do with. Some assumed that I knew every bit of it, or they told me to ignore it for now. Please, I genuinely didn’t understand even a line of the code on the screen, because I was a TOTAL BEGINNER.

Those kinds of lectures pained me, and made me looked down on myself. Generally, there’s no perfect platform to learn everything. I tried to be as flexible as I could, jumping between each of them.

  • Codecademy — Lots of people recommended it, but I was pretty frustrated by its tutorials back then. I always stuck in practice without any clues.
  • Code School — I spent lots of time here, because the teachers explain the whys clearly. Recommended.
  • Treehouse — The one with the most ads on Youtube! Treehouse has done a great job on marketing, which works (at least for me as a lost beginner back then). It covers so many topics, some of which were really useful for me. For example, it’s hard to find a decent tutorial of WordPress for front-end developer students out there, but Treehouse has one.
  • freeCodeCamp — Huge love for freeCodeCamp! This community has a clear path for beginners to follow, and it knows when to take the training wheels away from student. I was once anxious about what to do next after learning basic HTML, CSS and JavaScript, but freeCodeCamp put small projects on the right spots in the learning track. The community also shares great posts on Medium and by emails. Highly recommended!
My bookmarks of learning platforms in Safari

Youtube Channel

This is the best place to learn for free or for fun. Youtube videos are not only great for learning certain topics thoroughly from playlists, but are also handy for having a taste of some interesting knowledge.

  • The Coding Train — Hosted by NYU’s ITP professor Daniel Shiffman, who is the most vigorous teacher I’ve ever seen, the channel provides easy-to-follow videos.
  • thenewboston— Covers almost any topics I can think of. The host, Bucky, has the power of making intimidating things sounds easy.
  • Academind — Also provides all kinds of tutorials. Easy to follow. Recommended.
  • Fun Fun Function — The host Mattias Petter Johansson is a developer who had previously worked at Spotify and Blackberry. His channel is a nice place to learn JavaScript in an easy way.
  • Linux Academy — I learned some basic knowledge of AWS here. Liked it!
  • Computerphile — The videos here are all about computer stuff. Interesting to know, but I’ll probably never truly understand what they’re talking about.
  • Eli the Computer Guy — I learned knowledge about networking or servers here.
  • mycodeschool — My best friend while I took CS50. It explains computer science stuff clearly. Loved it.
Coding Train Channel

Articles to read

Readings are a perfect medium for topics of life paths or inspiration for me. I was pumped by great articles when frustrated so many times in the five months. Here’re some of my best life guides:

These articles gave me strength whenever I felt stuck

Other Useful Resources

  • JavaScript: Understanding the Weird Parts — Great Udemy course that clarify so many confusing parts of JavaScript for me. Highly recommended.
  • CS50 at Harvard — I knew Computer Science knowledge was not a must-have knowledge for applying to junior front-end developer job, but I couldn’t resist the temptation to take this course because it looked so interesting! It was worth my precious time in retrospect.
  • NYMY — Episode 1 — Pieter Levels — NYMY is a podcast show hosted by talented designer Tobias van Schneider. He interviewed the maker of NomadList Pieter Levels in this episode. I listened to Pieter’s story several times when I was down. This one hour show introduced me to the infinite possibilities of being a coder/designer.


NTMY Show — One of my favorite podcast episodes ever!

How to Get a Job

After about 4 months of non-stop coding and designing, I finally knew a little about the front end. I had also completed almost 80% of my portfolio site. At the same time, my remaining savings were only enough for me to live on for another couple of months.

It was time to look for a new job.

Unfortunately, I had barely any choices at all. Not many companies wanted a man with no relative development experience/background, and even fewer appreciated the value of my graphic design abilities. It was also sad to have fewer than five job opportunities that were possibly a fit for me. On the bright side, the situation forced me to focus on these precious chances.

🔥Tenten.co 🔥

I had been watching the design agency Tenten for at least three years. It is the one and only agency that’s able to harness design, digital development, and innovation at the same time in Taiwan. I’ve had them on my “please hire me” list for a long time, and I believed Tenten was the only company here that would be sold on my multi-disciplinary skills as well.

In the last two months of my journey, I learned as much as I could about Tenten’s junior front-end developer position. Meanwhile, I completed my personal site. When the time was ripe, I applied for the position. As backup plans, I sent my resume and portfolio to other five companies as well. And I waited.

And finally…

In Retrospect

Looking back, I still wouldn’t say that transforming myself from a designer to a developer was easy, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, either. The hardest part of the process was never understanding or writing the code, but having the powerful motivation that drives you forward.

Congratulations if you’ve found this motivation. If you haven’t, give it more try before you quit. If you never try, you’ll never know.

The most important lesson I learned along the way was to start doing something ASAP. I know it’s terrifying to take the first step of actually building something, but it’s the only way to truly learn something. Remember, you have nothing to lose anyway.

The days and hardships after formally becoming a developer are another story.

I’m so glad to have been a front-end developer at Tenten for 6 months now. The journey of learning never ends!

This article appeared previously on Medium.