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

A long time overdue, but here is the final installment of my trip report to the Art Center Design Conference in Pasadena, California.

Art Center Design Conference

The above image is an original concept car from 1936, provided by GM Motors. The car was something to behold — pure automotive beauty.

Dean Kamen

Whether you love his IBOT wheelchair, or think he’s a bit crazy for even thinking the Segway had potential, there’s no denying that Dean Kamen is both a brilliant engineer and a shrewd public relations man. He’s an impressive figure, and his views and ideals are easy to get behind.

Art Center Design Conference

Kamen brought along with him some of the California high school finalists for the FIRST Robotics Competition. It’s an event that grew from Kamen’s support that only involved a few high schools about a decade ago into a multi-national event that sees some twenty thousand high school students across the globe compete.

Students are each given a set of parts to work with, and in small teams working with their teachers, they design and build their own robots that must perform certain tasks. The students there that day had built two very different kinds of robots, both unique in their solution to the design problems presented.

(Sidenote: Seeing those kids and what they accomplished reminded me how lucky I was in both junior high and high school to have access to new technology. At Baker Junior High (which has since become a 6th grade campus only), I was involved in an advanced class where our teacher, Mrs. Nancy Williams, had found the budget to purchase five Apple II computers. This was back in the day when using computers was strictly for nerds, but the guys in my class managed largely to escape that label. We created school newsletters, used the computers to learn math and english, as well as spent a large majority of time after school playing both Wizardry and Ultima III. My love of computers comes from both that class and the fact my father bought me a Timex Sinclair for Christmas when I was young.)

Kamen’s involvement with the FIRST program is quite inspiring. Seeing kids in high school build something as complex as a robot from scratch gives me hope.

Art Center Design Conference

Kamen himself also spoke of the new project he has high hopes for, a device that creates purified water from basically any available energy source. If this invention works, it has quite the potential to make sweeping change, as lack of clean water is one of the top causes of all health related issues across the planet. Kamen spoke about the invention in the context of allowing the poorest people in the world to literally bypass the political and industrial walls that stand in front of them to join the modern world.

Art Center Design Conference

During one of the breaks, Kamen took questions with conference participants outside the hall, sitting in his IBOT. The machine is remarkable, with the same sort of self-balancing technology found in the Segway. Further, the attention to detail for a person who sits in a wheel chair is so well thought out by Kamen, including the ability to raise the chair to look other people in the eye while conversing with them.

Brenda Laurel

Brenda Laurel gave a short presentation, mostly discussing projects from her students at the Art Center College. I may have been expecting too much, but I was a little disappointed by her talk.

Art Center Design Conference

I would have preferred to hear her talk about everything she has been involved with in the past, and hear her opinions on how the near future will look. For someone who has written or edited as many books as her, with contact from as wide variety of sources, I wanted to hear something more directly related to that journey she has seen first hand. As such, she mostly spoke about how people are at the center of design, using the students work as examples in telling stories using new media in various forms.

Lee Clow

There was nothing cooler at the conference than seeing the original 1984 Apple Super Bowl commercial 20 feet high all over again. It still holds the test of time.

Art Center Design Conference

Lee Clow, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer Worldwide of TBWA\Chiat\Day, has been behind some of the most cutting edge advertising seen stateside.

Clow reviewed many of the commercials Chiat\Day has created, including Apple’s Think Different spot and the iPod campaign, one of my new favorites. Good advertising is as much about telling stories as it is trying to sell product, as was entirely clear from Clow’s presentation.

Frank Gehry

The conference ended with Frank Gehry.

Art Center Design Conference

I would love to say I was knocked out of my chair listening to this giant speak, but I wasn’t. I can’t be sure if it had more to do with Gehry’s very quiet demeanor on stage, or if John Hockenberry was simply having trouble finding a way to get Gehry to let down his guard and open up a little.

Nonetheless, it was still great to hear him speak. There’s no denying just how much Gehry has contributed to the world with his design and architecture work.

My Dinner with Andrei

I should probably let both Tom Dolan and Greg Storey write this section instead of me, but I’ll just let them do that with their own blogs. I met them both in Pasadena to have dinner.

Tom’s studio, Polychrome, is quite the cool design firm. Tom’s background in the music industry leads to a lot of clients in the music business, but he also does some amazing work for the likes of Williams-Sonoma, Apple Computer and Banana Republic. Tom also worked at a stint for Napster, and gave me some insight into what happened behind the scenes. Tom’s music connection was good for me, as he was gracious enough to give me an original New Order Low-life album, complete in shrink wrap, with the original vellum! Words cannot express how excited I was by this gift.

If you haven’t met Greg Storey in person, just know that his sharp wit comes across in person like a poison dart. It hits you with a snap, then about five minutes later you suddenly realize, “Damn… that was FUNNY.” Greg is great in person, and drove up from OC land to have dinner. I had a bit too much wine to drink, and neglected to bring a tape recorder to keep the conversation for posterity, but most of the stuff I remember us talking about are things that are best left at that table. (Not really gossip stuff, just this cranky designer being his typical loud and opinionated self.)

Greg and I promised to purchase each other’s schwag, and I should have listened to the man when I did. The stuff on CafePress does run a little small. Oh well… I guess I’ll have to purchase more Airbag schwag to compensate!

All in, a great dinner to end a great conference.

Do yourself a favor…

When the Art Center Design College begins sending out materials for its next conference, I encourage everyone to lobby their employers to get them a seat. It is well worth the time and money, and the overall, inspiration taken away from the event is invaluable.



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