KPCB Design Partner John Maeda hosted a design panel featuring Hot Studio Founder Maria Giudice, Chegg Product Design Head John Russell, Delicious Founder Joshua Schachter and SMULE Co-Founder Ge Wang. The night featured a musical demonstration of the Smule Ocarina from Stanford Professor Ge Wang, a discussion on tech’s need for DEOs – Design Executive Officers, and best practices for managing and hiring creative teams.
What would it sound like if you designed a musical instrument from the inside out, starting with an iPhone? KPCB Design Partner John Maeda had the chance to explore that question with Ge Wang, co-founder of the music app company Smule and Stanford Professor of Music and Computer Science, during a panel discussion at KPCB’s San Francisco office.
During the panel, Wang demonstrated one of his musical inventions: a flute-like instrument designed in reverse, starting with an iPhone. That raised a fundamental question: what makes an instrument an instrument?
We hear a lot about disruption in the technology scene – but according to Ge Wang, Smule Co-Founder and Stanford Professor of Music and Computer Science, one of technology’s primary purposes is to create calm, and good design can help.
Wang discussed how a global share feature on the Smule Ocarina, a flute-like instrument played by blowing into an iPhone microphone, has the unexpected power to calm by making us forget about the technology we’re using. Among those who have benefited from the feature is an American soldier deployed in Iraq, who engaged with other Ocarina players on his nights off.
Giudice thinks the corporate C-suite should be bolstered by a DEO – a Design Executive Officer. Her view is that designers are uniquely equipped to lead executive functions. Not only do they have a can-do attitude and are skilled at working with others, but they are able to leverage their creative spirit in new and productive ways.
Russell says crafting a team is an art form of its own. He follows what he calls the “upstream effect,” where rather than creating a product, he hires a team that can follow a similar process at scale.
Product design used to be an afterthought for technology companies. However, according to Russell, the interaction between both realms is critical to the success of a company.
Delicious founder Joshua Schachter, who just completed his 84th angel investment, discussed the importance of “felt” impressions in evaluating businesses and supporting a company because it “smells good, it tastes good.” A company’s design as well as its engineering help negotiate this experience.