UpForTheNex­tOne

She prac­ti­cally sits on a pile of very cool in­ven­tions, but Ms. Silka Miesnieks, who heads the De­sign Lab at Adobe, does not feel that she has seen it all – in fact, what’s keep­ing her ex­cited is what lies ahead

Portfolio - - IN THIS ISSUE - by Marc Al­ma­gro

Ms. Silka Miesnieks, who heads the De­sign Lab at Adobe, does not feel that she has seen it all – in fact, what’s keep­ing her ex­cited is what lies ahead

Back in 2010, I co-founded an Aug­mented Re­al­ity (AR) startup, Dekko. The dis­cov­er­ies we made and the solutions we built shaped who I am and the leader that I strive to be,” says Ms. Silka Miesnieks, head of Adobe’s De­sign Lab.

Aug­mented Re­al­ity (AR) em­pow­ers de­sign­ers to place dig­i­tal de­signs any­where in the world, al­low­ing their de­signs to re­spond to voices, body ges­tures, the phys­i­cal di­men­sion of a space, and even with other ob­jects, she elab­o­rates. Im­mer­sive tech­nolo­gies, such as AR and Vir­tual Re­al­ity (VR), also call for a new way to de­sign, thus cre­at­ing a com­pletely new de­sign dis­ci­pline.

At Dekko, Ms. Miesnieks and her team pi­o­neered new tools for de­sign­ers by pro­to­typ­ing new solutions with the use of AR; for ex­am­ple, nav­i­gat­ing a re­tail store or event, vis­ually search­ing for in­for­ma­tion about an ob­ject or a place one can see through a mo­bile de­vice, and de­sign­ing new ways to com­mu­ni­cate re­motely in a more hu­man way us­ing the phys­i­cal space, voice and bod­ies. The work they did led to ma­jor break­throughs in un­der­stand­ing how AR was go­ing to im­pact how peo­ple in­ter­act with each other, and even led them to build the first real-world mul­ti­player game.

Un­re­lent­ing Cu­rios­ity

Work­ing at Dekko pro­vided Ms. Miesnieks with the skill set to lead a team charged with ex­plor­ing a new de­sign dis­ci­pline. And to­day at Adobe, she “builds on top of th­ese learn­ings with my team as we con­tinue to in­vent tools that will em­power de­sign­ers to build new and in­spir­ing im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ences”.

At Adobe, be­fore any de­sign project is set into mo­tion, de­sign­ers be­gin by ask­ing them­selves three crit­i­cal ques­tions, Ms. Miesnieks says. “Who is it for? What prob­lem are we solv­ing? Why Adobe? Th­ese three sim­ple ques­tions can be very hard to an­swer,” she em­pha­sizes, “so we sup­port the teams by run­ning de­sign sprints, engaging our user re­search ex­perts, and cre­at­ing pro­to­types.”

De­sign­ing the tools of the fu­ture at Adobe re­quires Ms. Miesnieks and her team to con­duct ex­ten­sive re­search that will un­cover the press­ing prob­lems that they will need to ad­dress us­ing emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies. “We do this by look­ing at user be­hav­iors and needs, pro­ject­ing tech­nol­ogy trends, and fu­ture sce­nario test­ing. This work re­quires a team with a di­ver­sity of skills, em­pa­thy and un­re­lent­ing cu­rios­ity.

Be­yond the Skill Sets

Ms. Miesnieks places cu­rios­ity on top of the req­ui­site traits a de­signer must pos­sess. “A de­signer build­ing tools for the fu­ture (must) be cu­ri­ous. (He) should al­ways be look­ing for new ideas, in­vent­ing bet­ter pro­cesses, ex­per­i­ment­ing with new tech­nolo­gies, and in­spir­ing ex­per­i­ments that align with cus­tomer needs. In ad­di­tion to being cu­ri­ous, a de­signer needs to be deeply em­pa­thetic to hu­man needs and have a de­sire to solve chal­leng­ing prob­lems.”

Although she ac­knowl­edges the value of de­sign ed­u­ca­tion, she puts em­pha­sis on flex­i­bil­ity as an im­por­tant qual­i­fi­ca­tion. “Since I started work­ing on the edges of new tech­nol­ogy, I’ve re­al­ized how im­por­tant it is to be flex­i­ble. On one hand, it re­quires know­ing the process like chords of an in­stru­ment, but in prac­tice, it’s more like jazz. You have to be able to im­pro­vise and adapt, and be com­fort­able with feel­ing un­com­fort­able. Cre­ation never ends, and even if your part is over, some­one else along the line could add to it – maybe the com­mu­nity adds to it. I love that about the de­sign process, but it re­quires being flex­i­ble and being com­fort­able with am­bi­gu­ity.”

Di­ver­sity of ex­pe­ri­ences is im­por­tant as well. “When I hire de­sign­ers, I like to see that they are bring­ing some­thing unique to the table. We need to start think­ing about de­sign as some­thing uni­ver­sal and in­clu­sive. De­sign im­pacts al­most ev­ery as­pect of our daily lives, so we need de­sign­ers who are able to de­sign for a world

that is full of amaz­ing, multi-faceted peo­ple from all walks of life, and de­sign ed­u­ca­tion needs to em­power those di­verse ex­pe­ri­ences.

“Last but not least, per­se­ver­ance must be a cru­cial part of de­sign ed­u­ca­tion. I en­cour­age peo­ple to learn from fail­ure. If you’re not mak­ing mis­takes then you may not be re­ally push­ing your lim­its.”

Im­mer­sive Me­dia As Dis­rup­tor

Ms. Miesnieks is wit­ness to the rapid change in de­sign along with the tech­nol­ogy that helped bring them to re­al­ity. “Dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ences are jump­ing off the screen and in­fus­ing our ev­ery­day world with the magic of im­mer­sive tech­nol­ogy,” she points out. The po­ten­tial of im­mer­sive tech­nol­ogy is end­less, she as­serts, and it will al­low us to share emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ences and cre­ate em­pa­thy for the re­al­ity of oth­ers. “Im­mer­sive me­dia as the next dis­rup­tive plat­form is pow­er­ful and of­fers ac­cess and con­nec­tion in a way that 2D does not.”

Ms. Miesnieks sur­mises that the di­rec­tion in which all of this is headed will be driven by the next gen­er­a­tion of de­sign­ers and the tools that they have at their fin­ger­tips. “That’s why our mis­sion at the Adobe De­sign Lab is to pro­to­type the fu­ture for Adobe’s im­mer­sive de­sign prod­ucts and ser­vices. Like a SWAT team of in­ven­tors, we de­velop the tools, tech­nolo­gies and tech­niques that de­sign­ers will need to cre­ate the im­mer­sive realities of the fu­ture.”

Although she ad­mits that the im­mer­sive de­sign lan­guage hasn’t been per­fected just yet, Ms. Miesnieks be­lieves given the right tools and en­vi­ron­ment, de­sign­ers will be able to solve th­ese prob­lems along the way. “And that’s why I am so ex­cited for what’s ahead.”

A de­signer should al­ways be look­ing for new ideas, in­vent­ing bet­ter pro­cesses, ex­per­i­ment­ing with new tech­nolo­gies, and in­spir­ing ex­per­i­ments that align with cus­tomer needs. In ad­di­tion to being cu­ri­ous, (he) has to be deeply em­pa­thetic to hu­man needs and have a de­sire to solve chal­leng­ing prob­lems.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore

© PressReader. All rights reserved.