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Positive reinforcement: The Slack app HeyTaco!, which enables our team to reward each other and keeps positivity and praise on the top of mind. Once enough tacos are collected, our team can redeem them for anything from coffees to skydiving trips.

Underappreciated resource: A 0.7mm drafting pencil. I have noticed that younger designers in particular are reluctant to write, draw or sketch their ideas. They come out of school so ready to just jump on the computer that they have not truly mastered their most important tool: their mind. Nothing allows us to communicate faster than the brain to hand to pencil to paper.

Enjoyable reads: Ben Mezrich’s Woolly, Nayyirah Waheed’s salt. and Sinan Aral’s The Hype Machine.

Game-changing design: Motion graphics, specifically 3-D, is having a profound impact on how we think about design. The work from shops like ManvsMachine, Tendril and, most recently, Mach pushes back on the avant-garde that has dominated the past decade and focuses on a newfound maximalist approach.

Helpful guidance: Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans discusses how design thinking can help us create a life that is both meaningful and fulfilling. The book provides clear exercises and concepts to help you pinpoint what brings you joy in your life, and how you can have that meaning every day.

Catalyzer: COVID-19 dramatically shifted the design world in its entirety. The pandemic was a catalyst for leaving behind any tech that was on the edge of being outdated prior to 2020. However, working within ambiguity and quickly iterating are two areas that designers can thrive in. I realized this as I developed my global design organization Design to Combat COVID-19. We ended up creating an underground grassroots distribution model that delivered more than 100,000 pieces of free personal protective equipment to healthcare workers worldwide.

Dream meeting: In 2020, I had the honor of being a guest speaker for two events at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, and the Maryland Institute College of Art alongside Ellen Lupton, one of the most influential women designers of our time. This was an incredible experience for me since I have admired her work and readings for years.

Colorful stage: COLORSXSTUDIOS is a unique aesthetic music platform showcasing exceptional talent from around the globe. The platform seeks to provide a clear, minimalist stage that shines a spotlight on the artists, like Christine and the Queens, Little Dragon, Feng Suave and Parcels. They’re so inspiring!

Go-to tool: Hypershoot is a bookmarking tool made for designers. It helps them easily save and manage their favorite web pages as well as quickly find inspiration when they need it. It’s also the best way to discover new websites. It’s my go-to tool when I start a new project and need to find references.

Mind-blowing work: The new MTA project by Work & Co. The app uses real-time data to redraw itself so you can see exactly what’s happening at your station and on your line. All interactions are so smart. The work feels very fresh and beautiful, while still having a product-based backbone. It’s just a gem!

Creative fuel: Print magazines are fantastic for visual inspiration, especially magazines that feature work with a great sense of typography and composition.

Creative inspiration: Communication Arts! I also subscribe to architecture magazines on Flipboard, like Dezeen and Architect and Interiors India.

UX challenge: There’s an added layer of dimensionality that is missing in the way we do user experience (UX) today. We are pampered by the tools we use, sometimes to the point where we deprioritize the problems we set out to solve. In India, the diversity of UX stares at us while we, the designers, look away to chase the shiny new things.

Industry definers: Gojek’s solid UX team churns out good products that tie so well with serving users! Notion is also taking an interesting approach in closing the UX gaps when it comes to office management.

Dream job: I would love to work at Twitter someday. They have an amazing team of cross-functional designers whose work and decisions can literally change the way information flows on the internet. The social understanding and collaboration required at that scale must be massive.

Stress reliever: After looking far and wide for the right stress-busting techniques, I’ve found a list called the Daily Ideal, which I pull out when I’m feeling less than whole. It’s essentially a list of all the things that bring me peace, reduce stress and make me feel like a human again. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to find their version of peace in this crazy world.

Food for thought: The growing conversation around design ethics, from big tech founders facing Congress to the mental health impact of the apps we use day-to-day. Realizing that the habit loops we design have the power to create Black Mirror–level repercussions for our society has been a real eye-opener.

Dream collaborator: I’ve always wanted to work with Tristan Harris. A former design ethicist at Google, he cofounded the Center for Humane Technology and has many TED talks about design ethics. In his TED talk “How a handful of tech companies control billions of minds every day,” he explains that tech companies are exploiting the vulnerability in human psychology, and that if this continues, we’ll soon find ourselves in an irreversible digital dystopia.


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