About Me

Hello, my name is Joe. I am a practicing freelance (ID/UX/IxD/3D) designer, guest lecturer at the University of Washington School of Design, and am open to discussing new projects, opportunities, and positions. My experiences and interests have yielded a broad skillset which I enjoy employing in a variety of ways; be it physical products, interactions, experiences, systems, spaces, holograms, user stories, or even turns of phrase. I value the new perspectives and creative energy that comes from design as a collaborative practice and genuinely believe in its ability to improve the lives of its users and practitioners. I invite you to read on for a quick synopsis of my academic and experiential background, should you feel so inclined.

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I learned the value of asking ‘why’ and exploring how things work early on. First through sketching, building Legos, and tinkering with electronics as a kid, then through working on cars as a teenager. This led me to a trade school where I learned to become an automotive technician. I turned wrenches for a few years until a fascination with transportation design redirected me into Industrial Design. After receiving an ID Bachelor’s degree and a few awards from Metro State in Denver, I began an internship at the 35-year-old product-development firm of Samson Design in Boulder Colorado. Going from an intern to a project lead in 2.5 years was dizzying, but the fast pace, variety of projects, and challenge of learning how to create effectively and efficiently was well worth the effort. I worked closely with my team, supervisors, and clients on end-to-end product development, which brought me up close and personal with the processes and business of designing for a range of clients –or the ‘how’ of product development. While much of our work focused on physical products, I began trying to expand the scope of our understanding of the products we were creating by remaining vigilant in asking ‘why,’ adding ‘for whom,’ and digging deeper into my own practice.

This reflection led me to the MDes program at the University of Washington in Seattle and into the growing field of Interaction Design. There I was able to help teach a new crop of designers the lessons I had learned from the field and, in studying with brilliant minds in the faculty and my cohort, challenge the conventional thinking about applied creativity while brainstorming the opportunities that design could present. By incorporating the tenets of various fields of design and research into my own work, I found a synthesis of conceptual user experience (the ‘why’ and ‘for whom’ I had been pondering) which supplemented the product-centric ‘how’ of Industrial Design.

With these new lessons fresh in mind, and with assistance from my thesis committee and local professionals at Artefact, Tactile, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Oculus, I created a thesis project which focused on the intersection of Interaction and Industrial Design. Using my 3-D modeling acumen and by employing the HoloLens + Unity 3D, I brought my ideas to the burgeoning realm of Interaction Design for Mixed Reality by creating an interactive, parametric-style 3-D modeling environment that can be experienced in 3-D space (see the project ARCAD for a high-level write-up of the process and results). I’m now convinced that eschewing the screens in favor of special interactions is more natural for us and represents the new frontier for designers to work toward. That, for me, is pretty exciting.

All told, these experiences have shaped who I am and how I design. I bring a mechanic’s work ethic, student’s curiosity, teacher’s patience, and a “build it/test it/break it/fix it/test again” attitude to everything I design. Contact me using the form below if you would like to connect.

“It’s about people… People can change anything —and that means everything in the world.”

-Joe Strummer



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Current Locale

Northwest Seattle