is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Vice President of User Experience at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. You can reach him through one of the services below.+
Someone I was talking to over the weekend was saying that he felt that design is currently “over-supplied,” meaning, I guess, that in this market there is an overabundance of available design services, talent and studios. I started thinking about what that meant, really, and I have a feeling that a lot of thinking and postulation about the design business relies too heavily on the idea that design is basically the same as a service business — like say McKinsey — or a product business — like say Nike.
But I’ve started thinking — and this theory is still less than a week old, and I have yet to properly flesh it out — that design is most like the restaurant industry, which is a multibillion dollar business, and which allows for the co-existence of multiple levels of success, from mass-market chains to speciality boutiques. The more I think about it, the more I like this model, because the restaurant business is highly varied, is not a zero sum game, and everybody needs to eat, just like everybody needs design.+