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The Art Center Design Conference, Part I Ornament Mar 29th, 2004

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend the first ever Art Center Design Conference in Pasadena, California. The Art Center College of Design, for those of you who don’t know, is a one of the more prestigious design schools in the U.S., consistently turning out some of the best designers on the planet. They recently opened a south campus, and to celebrate the expansion, held a conference similar to what one might find at TED.

Conference materials

The conference’s inaugural subject was “Stories from the Source.” They had a large range of designers, engineers and big thinkers discussing design from every possible angle imaginable. No topic or profession seemed left untouched. Automobiles, fashion, graphic design, photography, animation, movies, commercials, architecture, writing… you name it, it was covered.

Here is a photo gallery of the conference, along with some notes. This is by no means a comprehensive set of notes on all the speakers. To see who did speak, check the schedule.


Registration was fairly smooth. The Art Center pulled out all the stops for their guests, even offering free valet parking. (Conference organizers take note: this service alone really helped to keep things moving.)

I walked around snapping a few photos of the new building, as you can see here. The building itself used to be the old Coop Wind Tunnel, where they tested and developed jet engines. It is now being retrofitted to provide classrooms and large spaces for design classes.

Art Center Conference

Below is my feeble attempt at a Jeremy Hedley shot.

Art Center Conference

General Motors, a long time partner with the Art Center College of Design, had a few new cars on display. The Cadalliac XLR was quite nice. If you haven’t sat in one and checked out the heads up display that floats two feet in front of the front bumper in the glass of the windshield, you should go to a dealership just to see that.

Art Center Conference

Another attempt at a Jeremy Hedley shot.

Art Center Conference

It warmed my heart to see this room. Yes, the Art Center has a class where design students get out real, honest to goodness metal type and work with it on real typesetting machines. Old school. We need more classes like this!

Art Center Conference


The keynote was presented by Richard Koshalek, president of the Art Center, and Chee Pearlman, conference organizer. Richard gave us all a bit of background on the building, and the plans for Art Center to host the conference biennially. Basically, every two years, they plan to host an event in the Spring of that year at the south campus in Pasadena, then in the Fall of that same year, they move the conference to some other location around the globe to continue the event.

They have ambitious plans to say the least, but based on the success of this first event, I’d say they have a great shot at making it all happen.

Art Center Conference

One of the keynote presenters was Ricky Jay. If you are a big David Mamet fanatic, like I am, then you’ll recognize Ricky from Mamet’s movies. Rickey has also appeared in other movies like Tomorrow Never Dies and Boogie Nights.

Ricky is one of those performers who constantly surprises, and that night, he didn’t fail. He performed a piece where he walked through a complex chess problem of hitting numbers on the whiteboard that followed the move of a knight chess-piece without looking, recited excerpts from Twelfth Night, solved a the cube of large numbers and sang portions of a blues song. He did this all intermingled, seamlessly to the delight of the audience.

Art Center Conference

The obligatory sponsors slide. Adobe was a sponsor, but only one of the smaller ones.

Art Center Conference

John Hockenberry

Our host for the two day conference was John Hockenberry. You may recognize him from Dateline, or have heard his name on NPR. He presented a quick monologue about the nature of stories that was smart and entertaining. Overall, as the host, John did an amazing job, always interviewing each speaker after their presentation with smart, insightful questions.

Art Center Conference

Bob Lutz loves cars!

One of the more visceral presentation was by Bob Lutz of General Motors.

Art Center Conference

The presentation had a lot a shots of various vehicles, as Bob spoke about the importance of design in the automotive industry. His comments centered around how design captures the imagination of the consumer. Further, he noted that once the playing field is leveled in terms of technology, that design becomes the key differentiating factor for the end product. All things being equal, when cars have the same level of safety, gas mileage, engine technology and reliability, then it becomes about the design that sells the car.

He walked through a large series of slides showing off some of the best designs in past. He talked about the “Golden Age of Design” in the automotive industry. That period from roughly 1944 to 1969, when designers had a very large impact on the overall end product. That period faded away through the 1970s until 1990s, but it is returning, signified by the latest designs emerging from the automobile industry.


Then he walked through a bunch of concept car designs.










Watching this presentation, I was reminded once again that design really does matter. It was a bit overwhelming to me, to see the style and thinking going into those concepts.

It also reminded me of the value of prototypes and presenting images that clearly convey the overall conept. Wireframes will only get you so far in design, especially in software and web design. In the end, you have to show something that is also compelling, and sells the design. You have to show a final product direction that attempts to reflects some sort of reality of the end product. Bob’s presenation easily did that for me.

Part II

In the second part of this series, I’ll go over the presentations made by James Dyson, Andrew Stanton, Richard Saul Wurman and Eiko Ishioka.



Standards rant

Repeat after me Separator Standards do not block, impede or otherwise hinder innovation. Businessmen, engineers or product managers who only care about how they want to implement technology or only care about their own bottom line are the ones doing the real damage in the larger economic picture.

Design by Fire strives to be as standards compliant as humanly possible in spite of the fact that those in charge of developing the technology, the browsers and the operating systems can't seem to to code to the W3C specification with 100% compliance.

However, even though I'm a firm believer in standards, I'm beyond sick and tired of trying to figure out what works and what does not work according to the W3C specification. So while I make every attempt to do the right thing, occasionally I'll just do what I have to get the thing working. In other words, if you run any Design by Fire URI through a code validator and find invalid markup or css, please don't bother sending me an email.

With that little rant out of the way, here are some good articles about the benefits of web standards.

And of course, there's Zeldman's Designing with Web Standards, which is easily one of the best reads from both a practical and technical point of view on the subject.

All of these sources discuss simplification of code, rapid development, smaller file sizes, faster download times, better accessibility for a larger set of users, easier code maintenance and platform scalability - all benefits of standards at a technological level. There's also some ROI discussion on using standards.

Really Simple Syndication is still a pain in the ass

Here's the RSS feed.

RSS Feed
Design by Fire RSS Feed

You should know the drill by now.

Andrei Michael Herasimchuk

Updated 2010 Separator The quick and dirty summary is that I am largely considered one of the first official interface designers hired by Adobe Systems. That is, the first one hired to do nothing but interface design across the professional product line. I worked personally on the interfaces for Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe InDesign.


One of these days, I'll convince Adobe's legal eagles to let me write a book about all that I have been through while working on those products. I just doubt they'll agree to it in my lifetime. Until, then you'll have to be satisfied with the History of Photoshop, an article written by a long-time friend of mine, Jeff Schewe.


Director, Design Team bullet Twitter
March 2011 - Present

Sr. Director of Product Design
Applications bullet Yahoo!
September 2009 - March 2011

Chief Design Officer, Co-Founder bullet Involution Studios
July 2004 - September 2009

Project Lead, Adobe Lightroom bullet Adobe Systems
December 2002 - June 2004

Director, User Interface bullet ePeople
April 2001 - December 2002

Director, User Interface bullet Impresse
January 2000 - April 2001

Director, User Interface bullet Mambo.com
August 1999 - January 2000

Senior User Interface Designer bullet Adobe Systems
August 1995 - July 1999

Co-Founding Member, Director bullet Specular Int'l
June 1990 - August 1995


Having the opportunity to work on Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom has given me a chance to explore photography in way I would not have had access to otherwise. You can find samples of all my personal work on this web site, and unless otherwise noted, everything here is photographed by me.

For a short period of time, I was exploring a screenwriting career. I had a script optioned by Hyde Park Entertainment (a division of MGM), a studio that has since gone under. I even had an agent in Beverly Hills for a short period of time.

I enjoy playing poker on the side and find the game infinitely fascinating. I have made the final table in a few bigger tournaments. One at The Hall of Fame Poker Classic and the other at the Bay 101 Open, but no World Series of Poker bracelet for me yet. I have had the opportunity to play against some world-class poker professionals and have gotten crushed by them.

In my off time I play bass guitar and far too many video games.

Publications and Awards

Industry Awards bullet 1995-2000
Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign have won far too many awards than is possible to list here.

The History of Photoshop bullet February 2000
An article written by Jeff Schewe for Photo Electronic Imaging Magazine. This covers the history and development of Photoshop. A copy of this article can be found here in PDF format. You can also find another copy on Jeff's web site, Schewe Photography.

Design Graphics, Cover Story bullet June 1999, Issue 46
This article covered the work I did on the redesign of the professional product line while at Adobe.

Collage with Photoshop bullet 1994
This book features 14 digital artists using Photoshop and Specular Collage. I'm only mentioned in the prologue, but the book was created to promote Collage and what digital artists were doing with it at the time. I'm still fairly proud about the book and the work produced inside of it.


Amherst College bullet 1989 to 1990
Left Amherst College to start Specular Int'l

The Hill School bullet 1984 to 1988
College preperatory school.


andrei@designbyfire.com bullet To avoid getting tagged by my spam filter, be sure to create a meaningful subject line.

Colophon and other details

Design by Fire v4.0 Separator A quick overview of the design and implementation of DxF for those who care about such details.

Browser Support

If you are viewing Design by Fire in either Firefox or Safari, congratulations! You are experiencing Design by Fire in the manner it was intended. If you are using Internet Explorer 6.0 or less, you have my sympathies as you are getting a version slightly less dynamic. The reason for that is due to Microsoft's lack of support for the CSS property "position: fixed;" plus a few other things.

Get Firefox

Bottom line, Internet Explorer promises to fix these things in version 7, so in the meantime you can either download the beta for IE7 or switch to Firefox.


If you have purchased the Adobe Creative Suite, you should have Helvetica Neue installed in your font library. If so, then you are reading Design by Fire as it was intended to be read. For everyone else, you are either seeing Lucida Grande or Arial.


Clearly, Helvetica Neue is far superior.

As for the logotype of Design by Fire, it's set using the classic Bodoni typeface, complete with ligature for that extra flourish.

Content Management System

This version of Design by Fire is managed using WordPress. So long MovableType.

Copyright Information

Design by Fire is ©copyright by Andrei Michael Herasimchuk. All rights reserved.

You may not use any material, articles, logos, essays, technical illustrations, photos or any content from this site without expressed written permission.

Design articles

This page intentionally left blank Bullet Oct 31st, 2008

Keeping up with the Joneses Bullet Aug 16th, 2007

Introducing Spivot Bullet Mar 5th, 2007

The unfortunate death of Helvetica Bullet Oct 23rd, 2006

An Open letter to John Warnock Bullet Aug 28th, 2006

Convenient Lessons from An Inconvenient Truth Bullet Aug 2nd, 2006

The kids aren’t alright Bullet Jul 17th, 2006

The Culture of Fugly Bullet Jun 25th, 2006

Please make me think! Are high-tech usability priorities backwards? Bullet Oct 10th, 2004

Rebranding the World Wide Web Consortium Bullet Sep 30th, 2004

You say toe – may – toe, I say [expletive] that Bullet Aug 17th, 2004

Gurus v. Bloggers, Round 2 Bullet Jun 20th, 2004

Design Eye for the Usability Guy Bullet May 18th, 2004

Et tu, Brute? Bullet May 6th, 2004

I would RTFM if there was an FM to FR Bullet Apr 30th, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part III Bullet Apr 27th, 2004

Gurus v. Bloggers, Round 1 Bullet Apr 9th, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part II Bullet Mar 31st, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part I Bullet Mar 29th, 2004

Redesigning Google’s search results page Bullet Jan 25th, 2004

Lifestyle articles

Welcome to the new school, same as the old school. Bullet Jun 19th, 2006

Bubble Boy at the Bay 101 Shooting Star Bullet Mar 1st, 2004

Beginner’s Tips for Poker Bullet Jan 31st, 2004

Crucial mistakes against Scotty Nguyen Bullet Dec 10th, 2003

Photography articles

Santorini in black and white Bullet Jun 17th, 2004

Santorini in red Bullet Jun 9th, 2004

Santorini in blue Bullet Jun 8th, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part III Bullet Apr 27th, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part II Bullet Mar 31st, 2004

The Art Center Design Conference, Part I Bullet Mar 29th, 2004

Party like it’s 1999 Bullet Jan 10th, 2004

An Oakland Rave Bullet Jan 10th, 2004

Random favorites from the shoebox Bullet Jan 10th, 2004

Portraits of Donna and Alexa Bullet Jan 10th, 2004

Politics archive

How terrorism works Bullet Sep 10th, 2004