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 Principal Designer at Adobe, Design Chair 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. Refer to the advertising and sponsorship page for inquiries.+
It takes a lot of energy to write new weblog posts regularly, and last week I just didn’t have it, between working some long days and flying out of state on a business trip that began with a Thursday morning flight at 5:00a and returned that same day around 8:00p. Whew. Anyway, it’s over, and I spent the weekend recuperating, which left me fresh and alert for today’s Adobe Ideas Conference here in New York. It was an interesting affair that brought together lots of different kinds of Adobe users — illustrators, designers, artists and business people — for seminars, mingling and, as it turns out, the celebration of the announcement of Adobe Creative Suite 2.
I saw some interesting speakers, but the best was the “holy shit” moment I had when I realized that the legendary illustrator and designer Paul Davis was sitting at the table next to me at lunch. I’ve actually met him in person once before — he’s the father of a friend of a friend — but that did nothing to diminish the awesomeness of the moment. The free swag wasn’t bad either — Adobe gave out shoulder bags to all attendees which, rare for a conference giveaway, is actually useful: it’s made by Brooklyn’s YAKPAK and fits my laptop and doesn’t look completely cheesey.
Actually, maybe my favorite thing about the conference today was the way it exposed a lot of different kinds of people working in various quadrants of design-related fields to different kinds of work. Joshua Davis, whom I haven’t seen since we worked together at an old dot-com, gave a characteristically animated performance full of some of the beautiful and somewhat esoteric work he’s been doing at his studio, full of crazy shit that corporate design officers normally wouldn’t be exposed to. There’s limited practicality in that kind of cross-pollination, admittedly, but it takes a company like Adobe, which for all its faults commands respect in enterprises and studios in a fairly unique manner, to bring them together. It’s something to be encouraged.
Anyway, Davis is a design magnet, deservedly, but it was a bit of a shame to see him kind of steal the show a bit from Pentagram’s Lisa Strausfeld. She seemed under-prepared and a little bit off in her presentation, but the work she showed was gorgeous. I still have a deep and abiding respect for Pentagram and the people who work there, in spite of the current of design conservatism that runs through each of the design studio’s invididual practices. They make the most of at least some of their fantastic client opportunities, and much of their output remains formidable. The way I look at it, Behavior could do worse than to be like them when we grow up.+