Design Strategy, Ideation, Creative/Art Direction, Visual Communication
Ongoing Art Practise
THNK School of Creative Leadership, Vancouver | THNK Fellow
Domus Academy, Italy, 1987–1988 | MA in Industrial Design, with distinction
Simon Fraser University, Canada, 1981–1983 | visual arts, communication, and computing
San Francisco Art Institute, USA, 1977–1979 | visual arts studies
Regularly managing large and small projects and budgets
Comfortable working with C-level leaders
Adept at assembling, leading and mentoring project teams
Able to work across cultures, industries, and languages
Fluent in English and Italian — moderate French, Kutchi, Gujarati — and some rusty Kiswahili
Visual Communication Design
Born, Nairobi, Kenya
Roots: Indian | Citizenship: Canadian
I like to make a difference in people’s lives and make discoveries — I get this from my mum. I prefer negotiating my way forward and being diplomatic — I get this from my dad. I grew up post-colonial Kenya, steeped in the tremendous beauty of the landscape and in widening dichotomies. I measured time by counting the days until our next beach holiday in Mombasa, attending boarding school in between, until I left Kenya to attend high school in England.
Learning the Arts, 1977–1988
Domus Academy, Italy, 1987–1988 / MA in Industrial Design
Simon Fraser University, Canada, 1981–1983 / visual arts and technology studies
San Francisco Art Institute, USA, 1977–1979 / arts studies
I studied art with great breadth—visual arts, technical theater, sculpture, photography, and scenography, alongside communications and computer science—learning machine language and PL/C, until my work for EXPO’86 and my design portfolio earned me a spot at the Domus Academy in Milan. The Italian language enchanted me and intense design study elevated my design mind. I studied with the likes of Andrea Branzi, Vico Magistretti and Gaetano Pesce. I completed my master’s degree with Francesco Binfaré, Art Director for Cassina. I lived the life, met the people, and saw behind the curtain.
Designing in Milan, 1989–1996
Industrial Designer, 1989–1996 / Freelance / Milan
After Domus, I lived and worked in Milan for an additional eight years—working on my own projects, participating in invitational exhibitions including 100% Make-up, and Abitare il Tempo, and exhibiting work at Galleria Bianca Pilat. I designed objects for industries including Alessi, Segno, Venini, Stilnovo and B&B Italia, and worked with Atelier Mendini, Studio Alchemia and Studio Michele De Lucchi. In 1994, I set up the product design studio for surrealist fashion designer Cinzia Ruggeri, where we developed a number of succesful products. When I was full, it was time to move on.
Growing Multimedia, 1996-1998
Creative Director, 1996–1998 / DNA Media / Vancouver
Back in Canada, I launched into multimedia, entering the UX/UI realm while it was still in its infancy. The Neilsen Norman Group were charting the waters, making room for a user-focused design culture in software and pushing at the edges of growth—where I most like to play. These years culminated in my creative direction of a critically-acclaimed media piece celebrating the mastery of pianist Glenn Gould, and helping to introduce a human-centric design process at Nikon Digital’s scanner division.
The .com Boom and Bust, 1999–2001
Director of Design, 1999–2001 / ThoughtShare Communications Inc. / Vancouver
UX/UI led me into the .com boom. I became a founding member of a start-up that went public with 10M in financing. I loved the blue sky thinking and intense whiteboard sessions, as we created a sophisticated suite of visualization software for collaborative knowledge sharing of web-based content. I developed and lead the 12 person design team in concept development, UX/UI design, and branding as we grew the company to 90+ staff.
Creative Convergence, 2002–present
Design Consultant, Principal at Vanilla Five Creative Inc. 2002–present / Vancouver
- Frank Gehry (Gehry Partners / Gehry Technologies)
- Swire Properties
- SFU – Contemporary Arts
- SelfDesign Learning Foundation
Work Exhibited at:
- MOCA | USA
- Vitra Museum | Germany
- Milan Triennale | Italy
- National Building Museum | USA
- DAC | Denmark
- Walt Disney Concert Hall | USA
Now, and for more than a decade, I have been using my skills and abilities to create and realize inspired experiences and visions. Through a cross-pollination of design thinking and creative engagement, I have conceptualized elegant solutions, and have assembled and led the talented teams that have brought these to life.
living and working in many cultures and experiences
reframing problems to see the forest and the trees
discovering points of equilibrium not always evident
elevating the strengths of others through inspiration
cultivating the beginner’s mind to invite the big ideas
respectful of the flow of influences in every encounter