Welcome to “Design Diet”: A quick look at what keeps us inspired

4 min read
Liz Steelman
  •  Feb 14, 2020
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Welcome to Design Diet, a new column where we talk to the design-obsessed and feed off their inspirations. Kicking it off this week is Susan Kaplow, InVision’s VP of Brand and Content.

Public Records—Brooklyn, NY

UX design centers around the emotion, senses, and physical interaction one feels when they use something. In my life, there’s one place that really embodies these goals: Public Records. This place, a 10-minute walk from my house, is my living dream. It all starts with the mod, LA-like hideaway entrance. Then the big, open, high-ceilinged space breathes air into your brain as you settle into an inspired coworking coffee hang during the day. (I especially love staring at the well-curated magazine rack when I need a quick hit of visual inspiration.) At night, it’s all about DJ’s, live music, and upscale vegan food. If it sounds like a parody of hipsterdom or a High Maintenance location… well, some may think so, but I know that whenever my coworkers and I leave here, we feel better than when we came in. And that’s a great user experience, isn’t it?

Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend

Conan is a great designer—of the insanely random one liner. His bizzaro brain is perfect for podcasts. While he may have received some slack last year after Variety said that he was “driving the podcast revolution” a mere decade and a half after the format premiered, I think this is a perfect example of a maturing discipline. While the pioneers laid the groundwork of figuring out the happy path of the podcast, Conan was really able to come in and take the format to the next level with his unique ability to design a laugh by telling the raw truth. Conan has big-time guests on his podcast but it’s his weird way with words that keeps me streaming.

Sammy Davis Jr., I Gotta Be Me

When I was a little I was transfixed by Sammy Davis Jr.. I loved his giant laugh, his huge jewelry, his swagger, and of course, his groovy rendition of Candy Man. I recently watched this doc, and the fact is, Sammy served as the model for modern show business as we know it. He was the subject of so much racism and controversy his entire career—it’s astounding. But he pushed past because he left no stone unturned. He was a singer, dancer, actor—and even a clothing designer: a multi-hyphenate before the term became the requirement for success in show business. In a world where designers need to continually learn new skills to stay competitive—coding, business, animation, writing, etc.—I think we can have a lot of empathy for Sammy’s hardships. Despite all of this, he was still the man. We owe him a lot of respect in the afterlife.

Topdrawer—Berkeley, CA

My fellow InVisioner Aarron Walter calls being design-obsessed “an affliction.” While we may be becoming more business-minded in our digital approach, the deep-seated aesthetic preferences that continually push us toward the beautiful and functional will always show up in the physical things we collect. I think this store in Berkeley (and their nice site) is designed with the “afflicted” user at its center. From perfect mismatched house slippers, to colorful Japanese handkerchiefs, and pens you’ll never want to lose, this shop is where the banal becomes beautiful. (They also have locations in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tokyo, and Kyoto!)

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