I have missed you!
Since all this, I have worked on some small projects, got married and joined a very ambitious startup called Arborea. Its mission is to bring sustainable organic food grown from algae to the masses. I manage the innovation engineering, helping engineers solve tricky problems, and fill in the gaps with branding, communication and media. I believe this company has great potential to do something very important for humanity, and I am so lucky to have helped it grow to where it is now. As the company takes off and transitions into production, I am ready to solve new problems and face new challenges. And I just really really miss design!
My forte is not specing pumps or finding the best pipe fitting. It is diving into new situations with the naivety and humbleness of a newbie, asking why things are the way they are. I am a generalist at the core, adapting and learning new things fast. I like to get to the root of the problem, understand what the challenge is, talk to people as people, think of novel solutions, and test test test. It is design thinking with a tech execution.
I also love seeing design happen in action. Recently, I have facilitated 2 hackathons. One on fast fashion at the RCA in collaboration with Solve.Earth. The other one about mental health and wellbeing for GE, organised by Mettle studio. I got to run the brainstorms and helped people push their ideas further. Two of my biggest influences in everything mentioned above are Victor Papanek (Design for the Real World is my bible) and of course, YOU! That’s why I was excited to find on your website an internship opportunity that fits my skill set.
Describe a moment when you came to a surprising realization that altered the course of a design?
My project CUE, the wearable helping blind people to navigate social situations, started by accident. We were working on a concept of a haptic feedback glove that we thought might be useful for blind people. When interviewing one, Andy Shipley, we were asking all kinds of questions about how he cooks, dresses up and navigates the world. As he was talking, I was quietly taking notes and absorbing every word. Suddenly he stopped and asked “Are you still there? Are you listening?” That’s when the penny dropped. We decided to focus on social interactions and non-verbal communication instead. Lesson learned!
What is design not doing enough of?
I think a lot of ‘design’ these days is too focused on improving the user experience and not on improving the user. My project Myrra reflects this (literally, it is a mirror). It is an emotionally intelligent virtual assistant that keeps an eye on your wellbeing and helps you form better habits.
How would teammates describe your collaboration style?
Below are some quotes that my grooms-woman collected for my wedding. She asked “What is the best/worst thing about Jacob?”
He offers a new perspective on anything I talk
to him about. Plus he kind of knows things
about everything so I feel I can ask for help.
He thinks he can fix everything
The fact that he’s working on something all
the time, makes me feel like I need to work
on small projects too.
When his work-ethic burns him out
He thinks he can fix everything
I look forward to hearing from you.
Please feel free to ask me about my journey if you have any questions.