Seven things: Frank Chimero

1) Who are you?
This is a weird question—you sent me this email, you should know who I am. Anyway, I’m Frank Chimero. I’m a designer who writes. I live in New York.

2) What do you do?
See above. I also spend a lot of time thinking about dogs and music. Again, another weird question.

3) How did you end up here?
Took the Q train to Atlantic, then got on the Long Island Railroad to Jamaica Station, then got on the AirTrain (not an actual train in the sky, but one that goes to the airport) out to JFK, then flew to LA, got on another plane, lost a day in the air, landed in Auckland, then boarded a little puddle jumper out to Wellington. Other than that, I spent about a decade designing publications and things for the internet, and about seven or so years writing about everything I learned/decided/unlearned.

4) What are the most important issues currently in your field?
I design things for the web, and the web’s problems are the world’s problems: privacy, equality, corporate ethics, consolidation, wealth distribution, and an over-saturation of loud, fast, and stupid. Now I’m bummed. See what you did?

5) Tell us more about your talk at Webstock – why should folks come listen?
Here’s the thing: we actually do a pretty poor job of getting down the big patterns of making things for screens. Maybe we take our knowledge for granted, maybe we lack words, perhaps its the absence of a catchy conceptual framework—whatever. At the end of the day, if you want to honor making things for the web as a proper craft, I believe it’s necessary to think about the natural grain of the web and how it guides your work. You need to understand it as a material to work with and not a canvas to paint on. It’s not blank—the web has certain things it wants to do. I’ve been trying to spell out my version of these things for a while. This talk is the back half of a lecture I gave last year called What Screens Want, where I dig into what it means to natively design for screens. That last talk focused on flux, or the capacity for change. This time I’m tackling edgelessness.

6) Who are your greatest influences?
Jim Henson, Ray & Charles Eames, Björk, James Burke, Janelle Monae, Montaigne, and David Byrne.

7) Tell us three things you love (eg movies, albums, songs, poems, artifacts) and why.
This is 30 minutes of kinda ambient synth music for plants. And I like it, too! Funny story: the only way to get this record was to buy a mattress from a Simmons dealer in southern California in 1976. Logical.

Let’s spend a long time looking at this photo of Twiggy and Richard Avedon dancing at work. Let’s not forget to have that much fun sometimes, ok?

This drawing, for obvious reasons.