AMA: Khoi Vinh

almost 7 years ago from Khoi Vinh, Subtraction.com, Principal Designer at Adobe

  • yolp pheadroneyolp pheadrone, almost 7 years ago

    Hello,

    first of all thanks for your work, your books and your particular take on digital design, that shows its graphic design roots in a very wonderful way. your upcoming app for Adobe is great.

    While the designer is always more than her tools, do you think that tools like your Adobe app will become more common and more powerful in the next, say five years?

    Secondly, What kind of spaces do you think will be hospitable for editorial focussed graphic design? My question might sound as if it is operating on a (false?) opposition between editorial design and product design, but it does seem that there are some significant differences between the drivers and desires in these two modes.

    thanks so much, looking forward to your response, yp

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    • Khoi Vinh, almost 7 years ago

      @Yolp: When you say "tools like your Adobe app," can I assume that you mean creativity tools on mobile phones and/or tablets? If so then the answer is yes, I definitely think that the design process will, more and more, start migrating from the desktop to mobile devices, and to the iPad in particular. It's such a powerful, capable tool, and there is so much about our design processes that is inefficient and broken that there's tremendous opportunity for tablet apps to help reinvent the way we tackle design. So yeah expect lots of change in the next five years.

      As for your second question, I've been really encouraged by how adventurous digital publishers have been with editorial design in the past few years. There have been some really high profile projects from big name publishers, but what really excites me is how even startup editorial products are embracing the values of editorial design. Pitchfork and The Dissolve come to mind as two publishers producing fantastic content who are frequently applying custom design solutions on a per-content basis, to sometimes stunning effect. I don't really pay as much attention to editorial product design as I used to, but when I see examples like that I sort of wish I were still in the mix doing that kind of work. Sort of!

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      • yolp pheadroneyolp pheadrone, almost 7 years ago

        Hello Khoi, thanks so much for such a considered response. :-) by "tools like your Adobe app" i meant the iPad layout app that you are designing for Adobe. and i was really thinking about the 'automation' of layout tasks that have been traditionally in the designer's domain of expertise. So to put this rhetorically: with the increasing sophistication of machine learning and AI, which areas of the design process do you see becoming more ripe for machine learning "disruption" ?

        thanks also for your thoughts on editorial product design. Wanted to ask you more about cultural differences between the editorial world and the engineering heavy UX world, but perhaps i should leave that for another session.

        wishing you all the best from Bangalore, cheers, Yolp

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        • Khoi Vinh, almost 7 years ago

          @Yolp: I get you now. Yes, in fact I think there will be a lot of automation of tasks that have traditionally been in the designer's domain of expertise soon. Computer vision is a robust field that the product design industry has barely even touched; there are tons of interesting things that could be done with just a fraction of the computer vision technology that's being actively worked on at the moment. Imagine a user interface that truly understands its visual content, and that can automatically adjust itself accordingly. That would completely upend how today's designers think of templates and views; UX would become many times more complex—and interesting, in my opinion. Personally, I can't wait for that.

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          • yolp pheadroneyolp pheadrone, almost 7 years ago

            Hello Khoi,

            wow! was hoping, but didn't expect a second response. thanks so much for being so generous with your time and for a considered response.

            the italicised "lot" (a lot of automation) in your response, is of course very significant! So UX design will be even more about systems and architecture and meta-pattens etc. But then what about design as form-giving?

            Will there be other modalities of doing design which are not UX? while a certain amount of general UX thinking will possibly pervade other design disciplines too, what are the domains where interpretation, form-making, and editorial attention to close reading, textual nuances, and content, will not be subsumed under 'system-think'?

            Or in other words, do you think that the tent of Design Thinking is capacious enough to accommodate various forms of design practice? or do you see UX thinking claiming to become the default condition / substratum of all design thinking?

            and on a related note, would love to know what do you think Richard Buchanan's idea of design as the 'Liberal Art of Technological Culture'? [1]

            [1] Buchanan, R. 1992 “Wicked Problems in design thinking”, Design Issues, 8(2): 5-21

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            • Khoi Vinh, almost 7 years ago

              I'm not deeply familiar with Buchanan's writings but I do subscribe to his notion that the logical progression of design from a craft or trade to a framework for thinking about most everything we interact with in post-industrial society seems right on (that is, if I'm even paraphrasing it correctly).

              In answer to your question about whether UX is going to eventually pervade all flavors of design, I think the answer is probably yes, but not at uniform levels. Software will probably continue to be the most heavily seeped in user experience thinking; marketing design will get progressively more UX heavy as well, as will editorial design, though perhaps not as thoroughly. Design tends to follow the doors kicked open by technology, and technology is certainly imposing more and more systems thinking on everything we do, so there's a certain amount of inevitability there.

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              • yolp pheadroneyolp pheadrone, almost 7 years ago

                Hi Khoi,

                a big thank you once again. it has been wonderful to have this exchange with you, and although your last response takes me to yet another set of questions, I will stop for now. On a different note, do hope that you will have time to keep writing books too among all your myriad activities. I enjoy your brief reflections on films on subtraction but I understand that you are perhaps too pressed for time to develop them further. I for one, would really look forward to a book from you that explores design at the intersection of cultural journalism. all the best, Yolp

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