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.+
Way back in the day I worked at a place where the boss was kind of a jerk. But, I have to admit, he did at least one thing very well that I cannot take away from him: he documented the progress of his studio with great assiduousness. This included, every few months, getting the whole staff together for a group photo.
When you think about it, you spend so much time with the people at work, maybe even more than you do with members of your own family, during certain periods. And, so often, there is no record of the people with whom you’re sharing that time. That’s why I thought it was so smart to take those photographs periodically; the practice stuck with me.
Well, it stuck with me in a latent sense, anyway. For whatever reason, when I had my partnership in a studio I wasn’t particularly vigilant about photographic documentation of our team. Once in a while I would bring in my camera, but I never formally organized a session in which the group would be photographed.
But when, as I mentioned recently, the first of the designers at NYTimes.com handed in her resignation, that old documentarian lesson jumped to mind. Just before that designer’s last day, I was able to convince one of the staff photographers at The Times, Hiroko Masuike, to very graciously donate some of her time take some photos of the entire design group staff.
We got everyone together on a Tuesday evening in the building cafeteria and Hiroko snapped away. At the time, I remember feeling a little embarrassed by my own sentimentality; it felt a little parental of me to want to get everyone together for no particular purpose other than taking a photo. But looking at the shots Hiroko returned (my favorite of her selects is below), I’m really glad we did it. First, everyone looks great. And second, with one designer already departed and more changes to the group pending, this particular collection of people will never be all together again, probably.