When people ask you “What’s design?” what do you tell them?

Kelly Hoffman: Design is now so many things! At its essence it’s identifying and solving problems.

Pablo Honey: Design is a practice that strives for better “(blank)” with the right balance of form and function.

Ian Stewart: Design is like drawing the essence out of something, for someone. It might be a message, a flow, or a form. And then delivering on it.

Do you have a favorite talk online?

Pablo: Sir Ken Robinson talks about creativity, education, diversity and the importance of failure.

Kelly: Natasha Jen’s 99U talk. Not that I 100% agree with it, its just that I can’t stop thinking about it. How can we marry these old and new ways of approaching design?

Ian: I love this short interview segment of Steve Jobs to remind me that there is “no such thing as a status quo.”

What’s your favorite digital product?

Ian: Having just come back from France, I have to note the in-camera translation of the Google Translate app. I love demoing that for people. It feels like something from the future.

Pablo: Notes app, and by extension the iPhone.

Kelly: Libby! Its a library iPhone app that lets me easily download and listen to audiobooks. For free! I’ve never “read” so many books.

What’s your favorite non-digital product?

Kelly: My bike. There’s nothing like the feeling of being on a bike, especially after working in a digital world all day.

Ian: It’s a suite of products I’ll call “modern board games.” I have a relatively serious collection of them. Modern game design is really something else and not at all like the games of Monopoly or Sorry you may remember as a kid.

Pablo: A book. Its aesthetics, mysticism and usability are hard to beat.


Kelly Hoffman is the Product Design Lead of Commerce at Automattic. Prior to Automattic, Kelly worked in startups before going to art school at UConn to concentrate in Communication Design. The combination of art school while learning on the job proved to be quite helpful and she stayed at her first job for over 10 years before moving on to Automattic. She owns two cars that she works on by herself: one is 20 years old and the other is 30. When she’s not working, you can find her outside, on Twitter @kellychoffman and at kelly.blog.

Pablo Honey is a designer and educator based in Brooklyn, NY focusing on digital media and its state of constant flux. Pablo worked throughout his career with design and technology at the pioneering agency DoubleYou in Barcelona as Design Director for clients such as Camper, Mahou or Bacardi Group, then at R/GA New York as Creative Director for Nike, Google, Fossil, Volvo or Samsung. At Red Antler he was Head of Product, building their digital practice. When not working, he’s probably cooking. pablohoney.co

Ian Stewart is the Product Design Lead of WordPress.com and has been at Automattic for 9 years. He created ThemeShaper.com and a handful of influential WordPress themes. He’s worked on a bunch of different things over the years. Today, he’s a Senior Design Director in our Product Experience practice and leads our WordPress.com Design Team. Outside of work you can find him at iandanielstewart.com and @iandstewart on Twitter.

Posted by John Maeda

I'm a learner. By training.