This week, we interview Evan Allen, Design Director at Fahrenheit 212.
What do you do at Fahrenheit 212?
I’m a Design Director with a focus on environments and interactive experiences. I like to think about how we interact with our environment and our architectural spaces, especially as they relate to new technologies and platforms that are changing the way we experience these environments. At Fahrenheit my work has focused on The Future of ________, where the blank is any kind of environmental user experience.
Where do you feel most creative?
I’m really inspired by nature. When I take a hike I get excited by little things like leaf structures and bark textures and I’m constantly thinking about how to apply those types of design principles and organization to my work.
Do you have any rituals for the innovation process?
I love a good brainstorm. And I think it’s necessary at the beginning of any project, because everyone’s got a million ideas swimming around in their heads right off the bat—you have to get them out in the open first so you can clear your head of preconceived notions and dig into the good stuff.
Where do you call home?
Harlem, NYC. I have strong family ties in New England, but I’ve been in NYC for over 15 years and in Harlem for over 11, so that’s home now and I love it.
What do you never leave home without?
My gadgets. I know that’s not terribly unique but, as much as possible, I try to live a paperless life so everything I need is on my gadgets, from music, to magazines and books, to my calendar, to all my notes, ideas, and data. I would love to never have another paper receipt, business card, or piece of mail in my life.
When did you first get into the field of innovation?
About 5 years ago I was looking to broaden my design thinking and I started working at Smart Design, innovating on product design, user interfaces and brand communication. I really got into the process of innovation work and it was super exciting to see some of my ideas come to life.
What innovation are you most proud of?
I designed the user interface for the OXO On line of small electric kitchen devices. The main challenge was to create an intuitive user interface using only a single knob/dial for user input.
What is your go-to reading source?
The New Yorker.
What is your favorite innovation from the last decade?
Uber. It’s such a beautiful example of using technology in a thoughtful and pragmatic way to fix an entrenched system that’s so broken and in need of innovation.
Do you have any side projects, hobbies, or a previous life you would like to share?
I have a former life as a musician and I very nearly pursued a career as a jazz drummer. As far as hobbies, I love to be outdoors (snowboarding, biking, hiking) and I love cooking. I’ve become quite the expert sous chef.
What is your greatest life hack?
Hmmmm, hard to answer, but I think it has something to do with choosing THE BEST position on the subway platform and in the subway car during rush hour.
What are your go-to podcasts?
Planet Money, NPR. They’re amazing story tellers, and they illuminate the human side of economics in an incredibly thoughtful and engaging way that isn’t too pedantic. Listen to Episode 320: “How Fear Turned a Surplus into a Scarcity” for some of the greatest suspense-thriller journalism you’ll ever hear.
What is your must-read book?
The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami.