Mind at Work: Senior User Experience Architect Andrew Day

In a world where there’s constantly pressure to “produce, produce, produce,” it’s important to stop and reflect on the special people, places and things that actually drive our creativity. Whenever possible, we like to sit down with one of our creative minds at VSA to find out what inspires them. Today, VSA Senior User Experience Architect Andrew Day sheds light on the four things that inspire him and help him do what he does.


1. Traveling

Every so often it’s time to recharge, eat some street food, fumble through a different currency and language, maybe do some scuba diving or hiking. In hindsight, some real-world versions of user experience challenges are amusing: Wayfinding and consistency took a hit in the Moscow metro, where some stations have multiple Cyrillic names, based on the subway lines they serve. System status mattered at 1:30am in the middle of nowhere in Uttar Pradesh, waiting for an elderly worker to update a chalkboard of departure times. Perception of control was absent waiting to cross the border into Nicaragua, until a bribe yielded closure for that task.


2. Cycling

For the handful of months it’s above 25°F in Chicago, I commute by bike from Andersonville. The seven-mile ride provides enough time to clear out those subconscious cobwebs and start piecing together ideas for the day. Best of all is the random chatter with my daughter (e.g., “Walruses are funny” or “Let’s not go to school and get pancakes”) who’s riding in the “caboose” on the way to school.


3. Collecting

Some might think, “hey, that old West German R&B record or that stack of Jet magazines doesn’t belong in my home,” and they (and my wife) are wrong. If it’s something unique, irregular, awkward, maybe borderline insane, it might just have a home in the “S-crap-book” part of my site, if not in my actual home. Depending on the year’s travels, it might have been Soviet maps of South America, Haitian cassette tapes, handblown glass from a day in Palestine, silkscreened Polish posters, embossed cigar labels from Cuba, and sadly, so much more.


4. Sketching

Sketching is the quickest and best way to harvest ideas without getting tripped up on details or Google Calendar alerts. Half of a letter-size piece of paper is perfect—big enough to be expressive, small enough to hold back the tyranny of the blank page (or impostor syndrome, depending on the day.) It’s easy to be awed by sketches of automobiles by Giorgetto Giugiaro, rough designs of just about everything (locomotives, appliances, package goods, cars, logos, etc.) by Raymond Loewy, or conference sketchnotes by Eva-Lotta Lamm.