142 episodes

Design Better co-hosts Eli Woolery and Aarron Walter explore the intersection of design, technology, and the creative process through conversations with inspiring guests across many creative fields. Whether you’re design curious or a design pro, Design Better is guaranteed to inspire and inform. Episodes are released semi-weekly. Vanity Fair calls Design Better, “sharp, to the point, and full of incredibly valuable information for anyone looking to better understand how to build a more innovative world.”

Design Better The Curiosity Department, LLC

    • Arts
    • 4.7 • 309 Ratings

Design Better co-hosts Eli Woolery and Aarron Walter explore the intersection of design, technology, and the creative process through conversations with inspiring guests across many creative fields. Whether you’re design curious or a design pro, Design Better is guaranteed to inspire and inform. Episodes are released semi-weekly. Vanity Fair calls Design Better, “sharp, to the point, and full of incredibly valuable information for anyone looking to better understand how to build a more innovative world.”

    Roger Horrocks: My Octopus Teacher's cinematographer on shaping story and cultivating patience

    Roger Horrocks: My Octopus Teacher's cinematographer on shaping story and cultivating patience

    Over the years, Eli spent a lot of time diving and doing photography—from designing underwater photography equipment, to running an underwater photography magazine in the early 2000’s, to doing research work using towed underwater camera systems. And both he and Aarron have a huge amount of respect and admiration for folks that are at the top of their craft. After watching the Academy-award winning documentary My Octopus Teacher, both of us knew that we needed to learn more about the cinematographer Roger Horrocks
    Visit our Susbtack for the full episode, transcript, and other bonus content: https://designbetterpodcast.com/p/roger-horrocks
    Roger is an award-winning wildlife cinematographer with over 15 years of experience filming behavioral sequences for the BBC, Netflix, Disney and National Geographic, in addition to his work on My Octopus Teacher. There’s a lot of overlap between photographic work and what it takes to be a good designer, and we talk with Roger about how he shapes the story and collaborates with the directors and editors, cultivating patience, and how generative AI fits into his creative workflow. Plus we also ask what it was like to swim with 🦈 great white sharks and 🐊 Nile crocodiles!
    Bio
    Roger Horrocks has worked from the frozen poles to the tropical equator and is experienced in documenting both open-water and benthic-based stories and behaviors.
    During this period he narrated and co-directed three documentaries with Craig and Damon Foster. The first of these "Into the Dragon's Lair", was nominated for an Emmy for best Cinematography in 2010, and the sequel, 'Touching the Dragon" was selected as one of the feature shows for National Geographic's 125th centenary year celebrations. Roger was also nominated for Best Narration at Jackson Hole.
    ***
    Premium Episodes on Design Better
    This is a premium episode on Design Better. We release two premium episodes per month, along with two free episodes for everyone. Premium subscribers also get access to our monthly AMAs with former guests, ad-free episodes, discounts and early access to workshops, access to our (small but growing!) library of books and participation in book giveaways, and our new enhanced newsletter The Brief that compiles salient insights, quotes, readings, and creative processes uncovered in the show. 
    Upgrade to paid
    ***
    Visiting the links below is one of the best ways to support our show:
    Zeplin: Few things frustrate designers quite as much as seeing the UI they’ve meticulously designed, botched when built out. But Zeplin can help you make every design-to-dev handoff efficient and accurate so you nail every release on time and on budget. Design Better listeners can get their first month of the Basic Plan free. Just go to zeplin.io and use code DESIGNBETTER to get your first month of the Basic Plan free.
    Greenlight: Years ago, Aarron and Eli set up their kids with Greenlight, a debit card and money app made for families. Their allowance is automatically deposited into their account and is divided into three buckets: spending, saving, and giving. With Greenlight’s investing tools, we’ve helped our kids learn how to invest in stocks and mutual funds and they can see those investments grow. Sign up for Greenlight today and get your first month free: http://greenlight.com/designbetter
    Babbel: Babbel’s quick 10-minute lessons are hand-crafted by over 200 language experts to help you start speaking a new language in as little as 3 weeks. Here's a special, (limited time) deal for our listeners: Right now get up to 60% off your Babbel subscription by visiting http://babbel.com/designbetter. Rules and restrictions may apply.
    ***
    If you're interested in sponsoring the show, please contact us at: sponsors@thecuriositydepartment.com
    If you'd like to submit a guest idea, please contact us at: contact@thecuriositydepartment.com
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 16 min
    Steve Portigal: The art of interviewing users

    Steve Portigal: The art of interviewing users

    There’s an art to interviewing customers. It’s so much harder than just asking a few people some questions. If we’re not careful, bias can throw off our findings. And sometimes the most salient information that may inform the next generation of your products can slip by even the most seasoned researchers. Few people have mastered interviewing users as well as our guest today—author and independent research practitioner Steve Portigal.
    Steve’s just released a second edition to his popular book, Interviewing Users, that expands upon the principles and techniques introduced in the first edition, and provides guidance for conducting user research remotely. It’s essential stuff for anyone in UX.
    Find the full show notes, transcript and more on our Substack: https://designbetterpodcast.com/p/steve-portigal
    Bio
    Steve Portigal is an experienced user researcher who helps companies harness the strategic power of insights. Steve has interviewed hundreds of people, including families eating breakfast, hotel maintenance staff, probiotic distributors, rock musicians, home-automation enthusiasts, credit-default swap traders, business school professors and radiologists.
    His clients are leaders in telecommunications, banking, media, energy and eCommerce. He is the author of two books: The classic Interviewing Users: How To Uncover Compelling Insights and new, Doorbells, Danger, and Dead Batteries: User Research War Stories. He’s also the host of the Dollars to Donuts podcast, where he interviews people who lead user research in their organizations.
    ***
    Premium Episodes on Design Better
    This ad-supported episode is available to everyone. If you’d like to hear it ad-free, upgrade to our premium subscription, where you’ll get an additional 2 ad-free episodes per month (4 total). Premium subscribers also get access to our monthly AMAs with former guests, ad-free episodes, early and discounted access to workshops, and our new enhanced newsletter The Brief that compiles salient insights, quotes, readings, and creative processes uncovered in the show.  
    Upgrade to paid

    ***
    Visiting the links below is one of the best ways to support our show:
    Zeplin: Few things frustrate designers quite as much as seeing the UI they’ve meticulously designed, botched when built out. But Zeplin can help you make every design-to-dev handoff efficient and accurate so you nail every release on time and on budget. Design Better listeners can get their first month of the Basic Plan free. Just go to zeplin.io and use code DESIGNBETTER to get your first month of the Basic Plan free.
    Greenlight: Years ago, Aarron and Eli set up their kids with Greenlight, a debit card and money app made for families. Their allowance is automatically deposited into their account and is divided into three buckets: spending, saving, and giving. With Greenlight’s investing tools, we’ve helped our kids learn how to invest in stocks and mutual funds and they can see those investments grow. Sign up for Greenlight today and get your first month free: http://greenlight.com/designbetter
    Babbel: Babbel’s quick 10-minute lessons are hand-crafted by over 200 language experts to help you start speaking a new language in as little as 3 weeks. Here's a special, (limited time) deal for our listeners: Right now get up to 60% off your Babbel subscription by visiting http://babbel.com/designbetter. Rules and restrictions may apply.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 58 min
    Dan Mall: Scaling design systems

    Dan Mall: Scaling design systems

    There’s a reason why we’ve been talking about design systems for a number of years now—it’s the key to collaboration at scale. Few people get that more than Dan Mall who has helped the world’s most recognizable brands create design practices that are truly sustainable and successful.
    We spoke to Dan about his new book, Design That Scales, which dives into how to create, manage, and sustain a successful design system. And he shares where the people involved in a design system fit and how they can best collaborate. 
    In case you missed it, Dan also joined us for an AMA recently. He’s a wealth of knowledge.
    Find the full show notes, transcript, and more on our Substack: https://designbetterpodcast.com/p/dan-mall
    Bio
    Dan Mall is a husband, dad, teacher, creative director, designer, founder, and entrepreneur from Philly. He shares as much as he can to create better opportunities for those who wouldn’t have them otherwise. Most recently, he ran design system consultancy SuperFriendly for over a decade. Now he’s trying to share as much of what he’s learned to help designers get the respect they deserve. Currently creating Design System University. [more via Dan’s website].
    ***
    Premium Episodes on Design Better
    This is a premium episode on Design Better (learn more in the announcement here). We’ll be releasing two premium episodes per month, along with two free episodes for everyone. Premium subscribers also get access to our monthly AMAs with former guests, ad-free episodes, and our new enhanced newsletter The Brief that compiles salient insights, quotes, readings, and creative processes uncovered in the show. 
    Upgrade to paid
    ***
    Visiting the links below is one of the best ways to support our show:
    Methodical Coffee: Roasted, blended, brewed, served and perfected by verified coffee nerds 🤓. We have our very own Design Better roast at Methodical, grab some here to fuel your creativity: https://methodicalcoffee.com/products/design-better-coffee
    HelloFresh: At the end of a busy workday, it’s hard to muster the energy to put together a healthy meal. Cut down on time spent in the kitchen so you can get back to enjoying the summer sunshine and the people you love thanks to HelloFresh’s Quick & Easy recipes. Go to hellofresh.com/designbetterapps for FREE appetizers for life! One appetizer item per box while subscription is active.
    Crashplan: You may have heard horror stories of people being locked out of their Apple or Google accounts, and losing decades worth of precious files like family photos. That’s why we’ve been using Crashplan for a decade and a half now to back up all of our important files. Visit Crashplan.com/DESIGNBETTER for 50% off your first year of CrashPlan.
    Greenlight: Years ago, Aarron and Eli set up their kids with Greenlight, a debit card and money app made for families. Their allowance is automatically deposited into their account and is divided into three buckets: spending, saving, and giving. With Greenlight’s investing tools, we’ve helped our kids learn how to invest in stocks and mutual funds and they can see those investments grow. Sign up for Greenlight today and get your first month free: http://greenlight.com/designbetter
    Uplift Desks: For people like us who spend countless hours at our desk, ergonomics are an essential consideration. A standing desk from Uplift Desk can help you avoid the negative effects of sitting all day by improving circulation and reducing strain. Design Better can get a special deal by visiting UPLIFTDesk.com. Use the code DESIGNBETTER5 at checkout for 5% off your order. Free shipping, free returns, and an industry-leading 15-year warranty. They’re a great company.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 15 min
    Rewind: Sara Seager: Astrophysicist pushing the boundaries of collaboration while discovering exoplanets

    Rewind: Sara Seager: Astrophysicist pushing the boundaries of collaboration while discovering exoplanets

    Find full show notes, bonus content and more on our Substack: https://designbetterpodcast.com/p/rewind-sara-seager
    It’s a holiday week—happy 4th of July to those celebrating it 🎆—so we’re rewinding to one of our favorite episodes. NASA has been making a lot of headlines with the discovery of planets outside of our solar system that may harbor life, and our guest, Sara Seager, is a big part of these pioneering projects.
    While we have you here, make sure to check out some of our upcoming workshops and a Design Better happy hour in August, in San Francisco. Early and discounted access goes to our premium members, and we’ll be opening up tickets next week to everyone.
    ***
    If you’re lucky enough to look up into a clear night sky and see the thousands of stars visible to the naked eye, it’s hard not to wonder, “are there other planets like ours out there?” Our guest for this episode, Professor Sara Seager, is on a mission to discover potentially habitable planets outside our solar system. 
    Sara is an astrophysicist and planetary scientist at MIT, and to discover these exoplanets, she relies not only on her own brilliance—she’s the recipient of a Macarthur Fellowship, otherwise known as the “Genius Grant”—but also on some pretty extreme collaboration across different disciplines.
    In the course of our conversation, we talk to Sara about how these teams push beyond initial friction, and how giving herself permission to fail has driven much of her success. Sara is also the author of a memoir titled The Smallest Lights in the Universe, and we talk to her about the book and bringing her full self to work
    Bio
    Sara Seager is the Class of 1941 Professor of Planetary Science, Professor of Physics, and Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her past research is credited with laying the foundation for the field of exoplanet atmospheres, while her current research focuses on exoplanet atmospheres and the future search for signs of life by way of atmospheric biosignature gases. 
    Professor Seager is involved with a number of space-based exoplanet searches including as the Deputy Science Director for the MIT-led NASA mission TESS, as the PI for the on-orbit JPL/MIT CubeSat ASTERIA, and as a lead for Starshade Rendezvous Mission (a space-based mission concept under technology development for direct imaging discovery and characterization of Earth analogs).
    ***
    Visiting the links below is one of the best ways to support our show:
    Methodical Coffee: Roasted, blended, brewed, served and perfected by verified coffee nerds 🤓. We have our very own Design Better roast at Methodical, grab some here to fuel your creativity: https://methodicalcoffee.com/products/design-better-coffee
    HelloFresh: At the end of a busy workday, it’s hard to muster the energy to put together a healthy meal. Cut down on time spent in the kitchen so you can get back to enjoying the summer sunshine and the people you love thanks to HelloFresh’s Quick & Easy recipes. Go to hellofresh.com/designbetterapps for FREE appetizers for life! One appetizer item per box while subscription is active.
    Crashplan: You may have heard horror stories of people being locked out of their Apple or Google accounts, and losing decades worth of precious files like family photos. That’s why we’ve been using Crashplan for a decade and a half now to back up all of our important files. Visit Crashplan.com/DESIGNBETTER for 50% off your first year of CrashPlan.
    Greenlight: Years ago, Aarron and Eli set up their kids with Greenlight, a debit card and money app made for families. Their allowance is automatically deposited into their account and is divided into three buckets: spending, saving, and giving. With Greenlight’s investing tools, we’ve helped our kids learn how to invest in stocks and mutual funds and they can see those investments grow. Sign up for Greenlight today and get your first month fr

    • 39 min
    Carissa Carter and Scott Doorley: Assembling Tomorrow

    Carissa Carter and Scott Doorley: Assembling Tomorrow

    Find show notes, transcripts, and bonus content on our Substack: https://designbetterpodcast.com/p/carissa-carter-scott-doorley
    Most of us are too busy with the present to think far into the future—work, kids, pets and other obligations can make it feel like planning for anything more than a week away is a fool’s errand.
    But we also live in a time of rapid change, where technologies from biological design to artificial intelligence threaten to mold the future in ways we might have trouble imagining. So it’s comforting to know that we have bright, creative minds at work thinking about how we might change course to create a more positive future. 
    Carissa Carter and Scott Doorley are the authors of Assembling Tomorrow: A Guide to Designing a Thriving Future. Both authors work at Stanford’s d.school, where Carissa is the academic director, and Scott is creative director. 
    In this episode, we learn why they wrote the book, and how we might rethink our design processes in light of the rapid changes brought on by AI. We also discuss how we can shift our thinking from short-term gains to look at our moment in time from a broader perspective.
    Bios
    Carissa Carter is a designer, geoscientist, and the academic director at the Stanford d.school. She's the author of The Secret Language of Maps: How to Tell Visual Stories with Data, and teaches design courses on emerging technologies, climate change, and data visualization. Her work on designing with machine learning and blockchain has earned multiple design awards, including Fast Company Innovation and Core 77 awards. 
    Scott Doorley is a writer, designer, and the creative director at the Stanford d.school. He has overseen everything from books to workspaces to digital products and initiatives focused on the future of learning and design. He co-wrote the book Make Space: How to Set the Stage for Creative Collaboration and teaches courses in design communication. His work has been featured in museums from San Jose to Helsinki and in publications such as Architecture + Urbanism and the New York Times. 
    ***
    Premium Episodes on Design Better
    This ad-supported episode is available to everyone. If you’d like to hear it ad-free, upgrade to our premium subscription, where you’ll get an additional 2 ad-free episodes per month (4 total). Premium subscribers also get access to our monthly AMAs with former guests, ad-free episodes, and our new enhanced newsletter The Brief that compiles salient insights, quotes, readings, and creative processes uncovered in the show.  
    Upgrade to paid
    ***
    Visiting the links below is one of the best ways to support our show:
    Methodical Coffee: Roasted, blended, brewed, served and perfected by verified coffee nerds 🤓. We have our very own Design Better roast at Methodical, grab some here to fuel your creativity: https://methodicalcoffee.com/products/design-better-coffee
    HelloFresh: At the end of a busy workday, it’s hard to muster the energy to put together a healthy meal. Cut down on time spent in the kitchen so you can get back to enjoying the summer sunshine and the people you love thanks to HelloFresh’s Quick & Easy recipes. Go to hellofresh.com/designbetterapps for FREE appetizers for life! One appetizer item per box while subscription is active.
    Greenlight: Years ago, Aarron and Eli set up their kids with Greenlight, a debit card and money app made for families. Their allowance is automatically deposited into their account and is divided into three buckets: spending, saving, and giving. With Greenlight’s investing tools, we’ve helped our kids learn how to invest in stocks and mutual funds and they can see those investments grow. Sign up for Greenlight today and get your first month free: http://greenlight.com/designbetter

    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 51 min
    Celene Aubry: 100+ years of designing for legendary musicians at Hatch Show Print

    Celene Aubry: 100+ years of designing for legendary musicians at Hatch Show Print

    Get access to the full episode on our Substack: https://designbetterpodcast.com/p/celene-aubry
    Back in 2010, Aarron visited Hatch Show Print, a small print shop with a storied history that began in 1879. Hand cut wood block type and illustrations filled the shelves around presses busy producing posters for famous bands and artists. Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, and so many other legendary folks have used Hatch Show Print to promote their tours, and their aesthetic has been a major influence on design for more than 100 years. They’re still producing beautiful print work today and operate out of the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum. 
    We spoke with Celene Aubry, Associate Director and Manager at Hatch Show Print, about the origins of Hatch Show, the role of letterpress in the digital era and why their mantra is “preservation through production,” the challenges and joys of working with old tools, and how they are going about educating the next generation of letterpress designers.
    Bio
    Celene Aubry is the Associate Director and Manager at Hatch Show Print, the iconic letterpress print shop continuously operating since 1879 in Nashville, Tennessee. Aubry becomes the first woman to run the letterpress print shop in its 140-year history. Celene is also guiding the development of additional Hatch Show Print programs and activities that leverage a classroom and gallery, while still carrying on the shop’s tradition of preservation through production, making posters for the customers whenever time allows.
    Premium Episodes on Design Better
    This is a premium episode on Design Better (learn more in the announcement here). We’ll be releasing two premium episodes per month, along with two free episodes for everyone. Premium subscribers also get access to our monthly AMAs with former guests, ad-free episodes, and our new enhanced newsletter The Brief that compiles salient insights, quotes, readings, and creative processes uncovered in the show. 
    Upgrade to paid
    Visiting the links below is one of the best ways to support our show:
    Methodical Coffee: Roasted, blended, brewed, served and perfected by verified coffee nerds 🤓. We have our very own Design Better roast at Methodical, grab some here to fuel your creativity: https://methodicalcoffee.com/products/design-better-coffee
    HelloFresh: At the end of a busy workday, it’s hard to muster the energy to put together a healthy meal. Cut down on time spent in the kitchen so you can get back to enjoying the summer sunshine and the people you love thanks to HelloFresh’s Quick & Easy recipes. Go to hellofresh.com/designbetterapps for FREE appetizers for life! One appetizer item per box while subscription is active.
    Crashplan: You may have heard horror stories of people being locked out of their Apple or Google accounts, and losing decades worth of precious files like family photos. That’s why we’ve been using Crashplan for a decade and a half now to back up all of our important files. Visit Crashplan.com/DESIGNBETTER for 50% off your first year of CrashPlan.
    Greenlight: Years ago, Aarron and Eli set up their kids with Greenlight, a debit card and money app made for families. Their allowance is automatically deposited into their account and is divided into three buckets: spending, saving, and giving. With Greenlight’s investing tools, we’ve helped our kids learn how to invest in stocks and mutual funds and they can see those investments grow. Sign up for Greenlight today and get your first month free: http://greenlight.com/designbetter
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 18 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
309 Ratings

309 Ratings

Andieo1997 ,

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Design Better is a beacon of inspiration for anyone passionate about the intersection of design, technology, and creativity! Whether you're a seasoned design professional or simply curious about the world of design, each episode promises to spark your creativity. I can’t recommend this show enough!

highway84revisited ,

Not anymore

Used to be a great show. Now hidden behind a 7$/month paywall. The “free” shows are now 20 minutes long, including 8 minutes of ads and announcements to cconvert listeners into subscribers. Not worth it anymore.

Mickey0193 ,

Great podcast filled with Intention!

This podcast has been a wonderful source for hearing from well known designers from a variety of backgrounds and focuses. They have a wide breath of topics they cover that are interesting, relevant, with a number of fun tidbits snuck in. I can’t recommend it enough for other designers out there or folks who simply love and are interested in design. Keep doing what you’re doing y’all!!

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