Future Design: Creating an Equitable Tomorrow with Forest Young | Adobe Creative Cloud


(gentle music) – So welcome to “Mobility as a Service”. If that’s not the session you signed up for, don’t worry. You’re probably too hungover to move. You should probably
just stay where you are. Mobility as a service is ultimately getting to think about
something fundamental, how the way the world moves. As something that we should
really truly think about, and these are kind of
tales from two journeys taken in the field of mobility, one with Uber, one with Lime, and contrasting solving
urban mobility problems in two different ways. So first, a little bit about me. So hello all of you, and it’s my first time
presenting as a non-Californian. So I’m so excited to be
in California. (laughs) You’re like, “Relax, we
get this all the time.” So this is my first time
traveling to speak at MAX, which is great. And I think there’s so many
interesting conversations that are about, some are about work, but they’re about
interesting areas of work, like tools and new ways to approach work, or that’s so interesting that so and so only uses these three keystrokes and just these kind shortcuts and these things that are more like green room conversations than
capabilities presentations or anything a presenter is doing. So there’s gonna be these
slides called definition slides. These are helpful in case
you wanna just glance, take a picture of them,
and tend to these later. In mobility, I think we have to unlearn maybe a familiarity with mobility in terms of telecommunications mobility, so really thinking about
the movement of people, goods, and services. And we’re thinking about all of those movements happening
simultaneously in different ways. So we’ll talk about the
different types of mobility. We’ll talk about multimodal, which is just a fancy way of saying planes, trains, and automobiles
all in one platform. We’ll talk about micromobility, which is about solving
and stitching together those gaps in mobility that you
see in urban infrastructure. A little bit about me. I wasn’t always this tall, but I spent a lot of
time with family here, figuring out how we’re gonna move from this parking lot to Wet ‘n’ Wild. Been blessed to be around
a lot of magical folks. This one actually is called Magic. For those you guys old
enough to get this reference. And then, you know, a dad who taught me that it was okay to stand out whether it’s in the basketball court or my mom who was dragging
me across the graduate stage. I think a lot of the
problems that excite me are the ones that are wearing
this little early planet guy. Earth planet goes this like Dr. Planet. He’s like, “Oh, I feel so bad.” (groans) And Dr. Planet is like, “I’m
afraid you have humans.” And it’s like this is
our perpetual problem. (laughs) We are a parasitical force on this planet who’s just trying to get by, and how do we use design, the
language is around design, or just conversation in general to try to figure out what we do with these wicked problems. So the project that I thought was the hardest project before some of these projects was actually working with Pat at Impossible, and trying to figure out that if industrialized animal farming does more damage than anything, in terms of the amount of water resources, the amount of methane production, then we actually have to
not cater to the people who are already maybe
eating plant-based meat, but we have to take a Whopper or a Big Mac out of someone’s hand and we have to replace it with something that they think is equally as tasty, which we were like, “Good luck. “There’s no way that’s gonna happen.” But they believed and they pushed us, and he said that your brief, you’ve seen a lot of briefs,
but your brief is to change the way the Earth looks from outer space. That’s your brief. So we ended up making
a logo that’s an homage to the waters of the
planet and land masses of the seven continents. So in some ways it’s a nice reference to our data visualization
of how well we are doing. So these big wicked problems
oftentimes are abbreviated by the overview effect. When astronauts talk about
looking back to the Earth from a far enough distance,
they call it a pale blue dot. They say that all these
national boundaries, these neighborhood fault lines disappear and they’re overcome with a
feeling of love for the Earth and the people that inhabit it. That somehow seeing it from
a distance does something to them emotionally. So this is what knocked
on my door which was Wolff Olins which was
a shop that I had heard about doing fantastic
things, reimagining museums like the Tate et cetera, et cetera. But the company that
always seemed to say yes to those impossible briefs
whereas everyone else was probably smart enough to run away. And I was getting to a
point where I was starting to solve things at different scales. So thinking about being
appointed to the national board of the AIGA, what does that mean to think about the future
of the design profession? By design profession we’re thinking about graphic designers, thinking about interaction designers, we’re thinking about people
adjacent to the fields of design versus people
that have Creative Cloud. I teach in the graduate program at Yale, so the second year MFAs,
and it’s interesting to teach a research institution with such an art school focus within a larger body of students that sometimes does and doesn’t appreciate what design has to
offer and at Wolff Olins where I’m a global principal
and head of design. So three different vantage points to have a lot of conversations about
design at different altitudes. But these guys wouldn’t go away, and by these guys meaning both
the Beatles and Wolff Olins. So the Beatles were actually,
depending on who you talk to, our first or second client. They really put us on a map. So they came to us at a
time when the word branding was just starting to be used. And they were trying
to come up with a name and a brand for Apple Records. And then later, Wolff Olins
would reimagine the Tate. And up until this point it was thought that the only way you could
organize your collection was chronologically, that
you would put your classics in one place, you’d put
your modern in other places, but you didn’t see your collection as something that could be remixed to be able to juxtapose unfamiliar things to make a point about their connection or maybe the audience. And we recently wrapped a
project for Modern Fertility for two ambitious founders
that were graduating from Ycombinator who wanted
to reclaim the discussions of fertility from the
doctors, the institutions that had become the defacto answers. (energetic music) And so this is just a little sampling of some of the work that
I’ve been a part of, but also that I got to inherit. The Met was launching and it was full of praise and controversy. U.S.A. Today had landed, and I
think driven some interesting conversations around this new language of simplicity and flatness. Attempting to brand New York City. And then the Olympics, and Refinery29 celebrating them as they
moved into Vice Media and we’ll talk a little bit
about this project as well. So I think the one common
thread that we have through all of our client
partnerships is ambition. So it’s not scale, because
we work with two founders at Ycombinator, it’s a two person company. Juxtaposing that with
a company like Apple, but it’s not about scale
and I think that’s one of the things that I think all designers need to ask themselves is what is the requirement for entree? Is it scale? It might be for somebody. Thinking about systems thinking
and some of the intricacies of how to localize a brand. And for us it’s ambition. It’s how much do you
believe that resetting kind of the normative
temperature of something is worth while? So a lot of my clients can afford to have really beautiful
immaculately taken head shots, but part of my task is
actually to be the buffer around them, ’cause oftentimes their teams live in fear of them. Their teams are wondering what’s happening at that altitude, and
so it’s both managing up as much as it is managing down. Now I’d always say the
best piece of advice, one of the two best pieces
of advice which I will say is meet with the most senior
stakeholder of any engagement as soon as humanly possible,
and ask them two questions. One, which is a no-brainer,
which is what does this project mean for the business? The second one is, no
one will ever tell you to ask this question, is
what does this project mean for you personally? This is you one on one with the CEO. That is the question to ask. Because you’ll get a whole
host of surprising answers that their entire team may
be completely blind towards. So you’d be surprised what
some of these people said about the projects that they were leading. So I think because we’ve been
able to mask the marriage of strategy and design, I
think our design has been noted because it’s been a powerful expression of a compelling idea. I think we’re probably
getting to the point where we’ve seen too many
beautiful things in Instagram to believe that you can
just put a logo on something and that makes it a valid solution. I think we’re looking at which companies can actually
execute systemic change. One of the tools that future
designers love to use, and this is kind of a flattened
version of a voros cone, is a probability cone. So what you’re looking at is
time as a linear continuum, and you’re taking certain
scans in this continuum. These might be things
through social listening, what are people saying on social media? What are the company’s financials? How are they doing
internally and externally? And at a present moment in time,
you’re looking at something that feels to be inevitable,
right, where it says probable. And there’s something
about that probability and about the exactitude
of that probability that feels terrifying. Right, that’s the origin
of a brief, right, is to actually be able to alter what is probably gonna be
a probable outcome, right? And the brief says we would prefer it if we were able to reach these people that are being overlooked. Or we would like it if this were to move into this particular generation,
et cetera, et cetera. And then you start to get
more and more ambitious and then things start to
become less and less plausible and less and less possible
and then you just run out of runway, where things
just aren’t actually possible. So, any brief can come through
any bit of light probability, more preferable, barely
plausible, barely possible. I think it’s the team’s shared ambition that defines, is this trajectory valid? So one of the projects
I love to look back on and kinda history smiles
well upon this one. So the controversy that
happened in the design community about the logo for 2012. I mean there was everything from stuff that was sexually suggestive, there was stuff saying
it looked like Zion, there was stuff that was
saying that it looked like anything, my sister, my brother could have done a better logo than this. But I think one of the
things that’s fascinating about it is getting a chance
to hold the strategy document for this project. And the strategy document said that specifically the Olympic
Commission was looking to engage an audience
that actually didn’t care about the Olympics. So you weren’t designing Olympic logo for your parents or your grandparents. And these have been the logos that I think I would have
loved to have designed. You know the 1972 Otl Aichers
and the 1968 Lance Wymans, these are the ones that I
held up as Olympic greats, and I always was perplexed
in terms of this form, until I realized that
the whole idea behind this Olympic strategy was to
create the Everyone’s Olympics. That the people who are
actually the best demonstrators of the Olympic spirit
might be the Paralympians. Might not be the athletes who are going for the big sponsorship deals. So the whole mark was really a celebration of this Everyone’s
Olympics and to to date, it’s been the most financially
successful Olympics of all time, ’cause
it’s been the only time that the Paralympics has
been properly marketed and sold out, which is both a shame, that the Olympics is succumbing to ableism and some of the other
isms that we don’t like, but also that it was being judged purely on graphic design terms,
but not as a total vehicle. So we got a lot of strange calls. This one was from Bobby Shriver and Bono, saying we wanted to create a brand currently called Project Code Red. It’s about saving lives, it’s
about people communicating what they buy as a demonstration
of who they are as people. So roughly creating a category
called Conscious Commerce. And a difficult part here, was to broker all these
B to B relationships either with Tim Cook and then Steve Jobs or the CEO of American Express
so that they would have tier one partnerships that were proof that Red was actually gonna take off. ‘Cause this had just
been a bunch of sketchy partnerships that none of us had heard of, it wouldn’t have demonstrated that commitment at that level. And the last project, last
two projects I’ll talk about before getting into
mobility was being tasked with a consortium of engineers to say, “We know you probably know
everything there is to know “about the Internet of Things.” And I said, “Yes.” And
that was a total lie. And then on top of that, how
do you create an open version of that closed Internet of Things? You know the Internet of
Things where like your Samsung doesn’t talk to your Apple,
doesn’t talk to your Google. So how do we get out towards
a more interoperable future where everything is talking,
but everything feels safe? And so I imagined as our design team did, that you’re in an isle of
a Best Buy or a Target, and you’re just looking to get
your first smart light bulb. And you’re looking for
anyone who can give you a clear answer as to what smart
light bulb you should buy, and they say, “I know a person,
I’m gonna ask so-and-so.” And there’s this moment
of panic that happens when the employees are trying to help you, ’cause they’re looking
for like an IOT expert. Of course there’s very few. And so why not be able to text somebody who says this is the symbol
that you should look for on the package, right? So to let the brand be a
signifier of this passes this new protocol standard. And we asked ourselves,
could we actually tell this to a five year old and explain
that you have hardware layer, software layer and just two
devices connect over radio. Then someone goes, “Oh
that’s great, it looks like “a little face.” Said, “We’re presenting to engineers, “the last thing we can do is
talk about it in human terms. “We can’t talk about it as a face.” Of course, there’s a room
full of engineers that go, “It’s a face, we love it. “So easy to understand.” So we survived the face appearance logo. And as a nod to the fastest
growing smart technology market, we actually put
the kind of emoji-like mark to the right of the logo type, which is a nod to China, who’s actually a leader in green energy and green technology. Which would make sense if you
stop and thought about it, but they’re actually driving
a lot of these protocols for more energy efficient
homes and structures. And so we oftentimes like to make a bunch of speculative objects. What would this logo
be if it picked you up at your hotel room, Las Vegas. What would be a tape dispenser? This logo would account for
both south paws and righties, right, it wouldn’t have
favoritism towards a side. What’s a conversation
the toaster could have with the coffee maker? So these are the types of narratives that our team was running with for the greater part of 2017. And then we had a client
that showed up and said, “You probably have never
had a client more difficult “than we are, we are actually trying “to create a new category,
like you guys did with Red, “which was Conscious Commerce. “And we believe it might be something, “some type of new technology. “We’re a biotechnology that
actually is so advanced “that we’re maybe no longer
even technically a biotech “company because of the
way that our platform “uses machine learning.” And so we thought, my goodness. So you haven’t made any products yet, but your technology already right now is so advanced and unmatched
that you’re acquiring an amazing amount of funding. So we said, “Well first
thing, we need every employee “to know this story,
why are you different?” And so we decided to create
a Z that was the three parts of this story, so high
throughput experimentation, machine learning, creates
industrial renaissance. And those were the three
parts that the CEO wanted to believe is what Zymergens did for. So part of the task is if they’re going to be creating a new category
called molecular technology, that’s what we ended up on, they were gonna be tasked
with not the marriage of biology and technology,
but the technology of new molecular structures themselves that they would be helping
to edit and bring forth. So a lot of the posters were for events that wouldn’t happen for
another three to five years. And I think a lot of these
projects show the brand as kind of evolved as this continuum. If you think back to Nike,
you think back Bill Bowerman making those waffle soles. And you think about, then
Carolyn Davidson probably doing the cheapest logo in the
history of corporate America, right, the 37, $7 logo, right the swoosh. She was later compensated, of course. The idea that you stand for
something bigger than a signal. So you make something
of high quality craft, you need to create wayfinding for it, so we don’t go to the Adidas
isle or the Puma isle. But then we need to stand
for something bigger, something that just like,
a company that transacts. So you come up with an
idea like just do it, which stands for athletic empowerment. But then you have all these
divergent architectural things that feel like a federated
ecosystem of things. How do you bring them together
as one united platform? And now you’re seeing this
platform in your brands, you’re seeing it happening.
Well that’s what Google is doing and a lot of the big tech players and so of course Nike
followed suit with Nike Plus. And then now you’re thinking
about brands owning context. Like owning that moment at 6:18 when my alarm clock goes off, why does it go off at 6:18, I don’t know. But that’s the moment
that my Nike Training Club kicks on and that’s when
I have a relationship with my coach, or it could be
Wednesday night running group. And so brands are starting to own these very unique
contexts, these moments in time. And this is not a linear continuum. You’ve seen some brands, like
Google might start a platform, move back to idea and back and
forth, et cetera, et cetera. So about 2017, this is kind
of the abbreviated comic strip that I saw on the news which
was the type of company that I wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole because it looked like
everything that touched it was just becoming part
of this larger tornado of discussions around toxic culture, discussions on leadership
being emblematic of a company. The hype around unicorns that are pre IPO. The next big thing, et cetera,
et cetera, on Market Street. But the one fundamental thing as I started to kinda blur my eyes
on the big giant figure at the top was the fact
that the world is saying, “Hey, you’re deciding on
how the world is gonna move, “and we wanna have a say about it, “and we think a lot of people
should have a say about it.” And so we asked ourselves,
this could easily be kind of a clandestine
project where someone goes and works on this and
someone will work on this, but we believe we could solve it correctly if we’re able to be very severe about the rules of the road,
the rules for engagement. Then this is actually
something we would take on with great enthusiasm. So this is how I chose to see it. I would be the snail on the left side, not the pragmatic smart
snail on the right, who’s like, “Dude, what
are you talking about? “That is such a tape dispenser.” It’s like no, I see, I see
myself in this tape dispenser. And the snail is just shaking his head. So why I love these problems is on-demand is like threading the improbable needle between two humans that
are highly excited. Some human that has
something, and some human that wants something at a moment in time that is soon passing. And this is this new reality of on-demand. We’re no longer talking
about scheduled mobility, which is do you have the bus schedule? It’s like people are determining
their own schedules, right? There’re agreements between one another. Or as Leandro Erlich
demonstrates in his beautiful installation swimming pool,
sometimes you can experience what it’s like to be in the pool, and sometimes you can look
down, the people that are above. And these on-demand structures
allow you to see things from different vantage points. There is no one type of solution. So, we actually decided
to pitch the company with three things to
help ourselves understand what we were excited by. Things that terrified us,
things that felt too close what they already had. So we started off with a U which felt like that was harkening back
to their very first logo which was a big red U. Most people don’t remember
that, it’s back from like 2008. And it said Uber Cab, and
they ran into an issue with the SMTA, they changed it to Uber and it was a red Uber logo
type over a big red U. And then it became the U that
had the fangs pointing back and then it had the bits and atoms. So when we approached it there’d
been so many permutations of shape and form and type, we thought, well U has gotta be one of them. This bit thing they keep talking about has probably gotta be middle one, and there should be something
that we don’t even know how we’re gonna land, right? So we present something that
actually scares ourselves. So we started where you might expect, unifying things around a single piece of, like a typographic gesture,
thinks that felt U like. And we wanted to remind
ourselves they did have motorcycle taxis, they did
have freight and logistics, so we couldn’t just think about rides as part of the solution. And then we used these tools and I think this was a
discussion we had with the team, which is live service is great and these tools are great, and these tools that give us an ability
to see things in dimension with kind of perfect lighting. There’s also a danger that
your tools can sometimes get you designing in a certain way. You start to think of, what
am I gonna wrap this car with? Or what am I gonna wrap this truck with? You start to think about
excessive amounts of vinyl that you’re gonna use
in these applications. So the apps start to
push you to design them in a certain way or you start to realize that these are car and form factors that are very Western, right? We’re not seeing any Tuk Tuk apps, right? And so one of the things
they talked a lot about in Brand New Conference was
the emergence of new apps that are more contextual to where you are. So everyone is not
designing the same moped that’s all in Berlin. The second question we
asked is what if it was you to the power of Uber, right? So not the company to the power of itself, but actually putting
a person in this field and asking, what is her
to the power of Uber. And so if we started to ask that question, we’re unifying this letter form, the logo type and this blinking cursor becomes the way to get in and out of all their product suite. From Freight to Moto and you can build the whole architecture from that system. And the system would
allow us to use something that could celebrate the
cities we’re partnering with. So think about cities as
colleagues versus adversaries. So Bonneville to the power of Uber is like these autonomous
cars could take you out to the Salt Flats, right? So you’re always thinking
about the city to the power of something, or person
to the power of something. Where to stand curbside at the airport, which we believed was a big problem. So we had a blinking cursor
that was blinking curbside. Thinking about these blinking moments that unify ways in which you
can travel across the world, and then could ethos also be something that could be amplified. So the last one I told
you is gonna frighten us, was actually opening up “Wrinkle in Time” and this is when Meg
is trying to understand how these three basically
like super witches are time traveling and they’re like, “This is how we time travel.” If it took us all the time in the world, like the top illustration,
the aunt would have to go across the whole string. But if we bend time, right? Then actual bent time
could be representative as that little U drop. And for us that was, the
U is actually a bent line, or it’s a bent journey,
which actually communicates the benefit of why you
would choose the service. And so these are just some states that we put together, Uber’s waiting. – [Man] Uber me home. – Uber hears a command, how long before the car
or the food gets there? What do we really wanna know? And then a U is just a completion of that particular trip. So it’s not a company
celebrating it’s own presence, it’s the completion of the action that you needed to come to a close. So waiting, hearing the
command, the countdown and then the completion. And we got excited ’cause we can imagine actually being inside
that self driving car from earlier and actually saying, “Okay we can tell the car is awake “and is ready for your command.” We can tell that this trade
dress is the completion of your command action that you might have at the beginning of the app. We can tell that this line is
somehow aware and sentient, it’s listening to the sound of traffic. And this count down could be something that can be a tool to create excitement. How long before the playoffs get here? But then back to a greater context, right? So we had a CEO who’s inheriting a bunch of loyal faithfuls to the founder CEO, so there was like a mixed ethos. You had a chain of public scandals, both internally and externally,
demoralized workforce so there wasn’t much morale
happening internally. And you had elevated
market share competition happening from Lyft and
from a lot of competitors in Southeast Asia. And so this brief, which I think many of you have seen a lot, which is what I call the supermodel brief, which is that today, we’re
a functional service, but tomorrow, we wanna be
a beloved iconic brand. And it’s like, right? Right? And it’s kind of like somebody
coming into your office and going, “I wanna be a supermodel.” And you’re like, “There’s so many things “that I have to say to you in this moment. (audience laughing)
“One is, is that the thing that
you think you should be? “But also, is that achievable? “Is that desirable to be a supermodel? “So is that what you should be?” So we said maybe there
are seven transformations that are about taking
something that might feel mildly unachievable and saying, “What if you were focusing
more about the people “that you serve, less about the company “and the company’s history? “What if you made this so simple to use “that that becomes the
takeaway is ease and simplicity “versus romanticizing the complexity? “What if we looked at a greater world, “bigger than San Francisco
and Market Street “and we really embrace all the constraints “and the nuances that the mega
regions have to deal with, “and bring this brand to life?” How do we get from the car
space to the technology space? So when we IPO, this
is more of a discussion of we are the Amazon of mobility, not we are a Lyft competitor
that also does ride hailing. That’s important distinction. To be able to see cities and
cabs, not as adversaries, but as colleagues, especially
since L.A. and Dallas usually gonna be home to
kinda somebody’s first flying car deployment. So these are gonna be the cities that are, these two cities, Dallas and Los Angeles, you guys are gonna be defining
what mobility will look like in the United States. Safety is a soundbite, so a lot of PR spin control on safety, but how do we instrument safety into the product experience itself? And lastly, as we talked
about not succumbing to ableism, not succumbing to
everybody has the same amount or ability behind the
wheel or as a passenger. So they’re rallying around an idea called “Movement ignites opportunity”
and one of the exciting things was we got to help them define which type of movement. ‘Cause it’s one thing to say movement, it’s another thing to pick
out of, and this was I think, a shortened stack of
50 different movements. Are you a domino movement
which has some first domino that falls and all the rest have a kind of kinetic dependency? Is it like a metronome that’s
ongoing that never stops? Is it something that’s
banking around a corner? Is it something that is a wave form? And so the team arrived at four unique, differentiated types of movement. So one was the creativity
of moving through space. That actually to think
of yourself as a dancer gliding across the stage,
actually creating lines in space. Thinking about movements
that are the organizing of people towards a common
cause, also movements. Movements as highly
synchronized, precise movements done without any lag. Or frictionless movements
that don’t have any turbulence or kind of friction below. Like the wing suit type of movement. And we found that the movement
we are most in love with was actually this bizarre
gif of Wile E. Coyote. And the reason why is
we could not reconcile what happens when you
actually are hailing food. When you actually don’t wanna move. When it’s raining and when you actually, the last thing you wanna do, the last idea is putting on a jacket and going outside. What is that type of movement? Well, that’s you kind of
magnetizing moving the world towards you and so this
magnet is ambivalent in terms of where, is
the coyote being pulled or is the coyote pulling the world closer? And so we felt like it exists
somewhere in that tension of going and getting. How do you express movement
if you can’t actually move with animation and cells? So we can communicate things like ripples and crests and propulsion. We can do this with simple swipe, we can do these really fast. And Paul Klee famously
said, “The line is a dot “that went for a walk.” Which is just an amazing quote
that immediately transforms the way you actually think about form. Right, ’cause we see that line as a dot that’s being jogged across
the frame and it’s amazing. And so he said similarly,
“Can we also imagine “that a circle is a square
that went for a spin?” ‘Cause if you spin a square,
it will make a circle. And so he started to think differently about these shapes and this was the origin of the whole system. So what happens when a square stretches and becomes a line, when it
folds in and becomes a triangle? When it spins it becomes a circle. I think we’re always fighting using motion as a tool that’s decorative. Motion is a tool that
comes in at the 25th hour to make us somewhat
excited about it. (laughs) You know, but you’re really
using motion as a tool that how something moves is
defining some pretty seriously fundamental things about something. And I think more and more this
idea of a kinetic identity or a haptic identity, or
an identity that feels much more tangible, is
going to be the thing that’s going to win out over things that are just purely graphic. Some simple sketches. I think we tried to have the right balance between how much time
we spend on computers and how much time we spend away from them. And I’m terrified that more and more of these presentations I
look at, the more and more of the nuggets are all
from these analog things. They’re like oh wow, that bottom right, where somebody was dropping
and they boomeranged it and you just saw the thing
coming back reminds us it’s not about going, it’s about
coming back to your family, coming back to your colleagues. That nice little chest bump moment, though awkwardly bro-y,
is a demonstration, it’s not about Uber, it’s
about you’re facilitating interactions between
two complete strangers that otherwise would
not have come together. That’s a pretty important thing. So what are you gonna do once those two people come together? And different ways we think
about shape, form and surprise. So this was our quote, unquote war room. Part of the task was also
getting them off of their, (person sneezing)
Bless you. Off of the screens to make
sure that we weren’t all trying to out-speed each other in terms of solutionizing something. But we’re actually looking
at are there any boundaries between one, two and three? What if we end up with one
super route, that would be okay, if the ideas were porous
and they all felt authentic. Drawings, trying to understand
how do we make an air hockey feel like an air hockey puck? All these conversations. We wanna make sure the
teams didn’t feel anxious about arriving at a solution, so we came up with over a hundred ways in which you could make
a U into something. To say believe me, we
will cross every bridge. We will have U’s as smiles,
we have U’s as arches, U’s as bowls, U’s as
intersections of two J’s. And we created so many of these, we had these just lying around so that no one panicked
about not having the answer or not having a answer. It was more about
finding the right answer. We had a table of kind objects. And so these were things where we imagined that you can say, “Hey driver,
I need a stick of gum.” And the driver gives you a stick of gum and you realize on that gum wrapper is a map of the city. Maybe of the best sunsets and sunrises. The driver is more than a chauffer, or a machine operator, a driver could be the person who unlocks the city for you. So how do we think beyond
people’s even designated roles? And it might be something
where that stick of gum leads you to have a transformational
experience in the city. ‘Cause we’re romanticizing experiences, not the company or the imagined experience they’re actually having. We used a collaborative
platform called Niice, N-I-I-C-E.co, because I know
two of you will ask me that, after every lecture there’s always two. So N-I-I-C-E.co. And it’s a platform that’s
still very bootstrappy, but allows you to do a
lot of drag and dropping which allows us to then
do time zone hacks. So a way for us to design
between three studios. So how do we get a London studio, our San Francisco studio
and our New York studio dragging and dropping dynamic content into one shared platform and not have what I think
is called mood board-itis where designers grab the same mood board, and it’s probably the same
mood board they’ve used in the previous two or three
and they’ve gotten so used to this mood board because
there’s a kind of a comfort to these images, right? They know that they’ve been
successful mood board images before so they can be successful
mood board images again. But I think the danger,
not only with the tools, are the influences you’re looking at, gestures that are too
designed to be influences for a context that was not the task that you’re designing for. So I think there’s always for me, a love-hate relationship
with looking at mood boards. There are things that
truly feel like the coyote to be the epicenter of an actual new idea, and ones that feel like
this is a little bit like training wheels,
we’re looking at something that has the gravitas of a made and exciting piece of graphic design, but sometimes maybe we need to push away and back to sketches. So we talk to a lot of people. And I think talking to people
is one of the greatest things that designers are not
taught that you must do, which is just listening first, and then ultimately letting
the true constraints emerge ’cause the constraints if they’re true, might have emerged in a brief. And it reminds me of the
parable of the six blind monks. So if you do not actually
discuss what’s in front of you, you will argue about something
that your own experience will dictate that if
you’re holding the trunk of an elephant, it has
to be a boa constrictor. If you happen to be holding a tusk, you’re certain that it’s a
spear or some type of weapon. You’re holding a stomach, you know that it’s gotta be a giant bolder. You know that if your holding a tail, it has to be some type of paint brush. And your own experience
cannot let you undo the fact that you’re allowing
that to create tunnel vision and so these six blind
monks are getting into fits with each other ’cause
they’re not talking. And conversation helps to stitch together these partial truths,
the true nature of what’s in front of you that
could be right in front of all the teams. So we created these projective tools called the U cards, and we said, “What are your hopes and
dreams for this project?” I think we had roughly about 25 of these. For some executives it was
light at the end of a tunnel. For some it was that we
wanted to be a magnet where we can pull whatever’s
essential, people or things. They wanted to be facilitators
of driver and rider moments. So for some people it
wasn’t about the company, it really was about the
human to human interactions. Someone else it was an escape,
it was hot air balloon. And my favorite says, yeah
I know a lot of people are gonna hate mine, but I just think that when it rains that someone should just offer you an umbrella. Which is my favorite. I think as we try to create brands that are everyone’s best friend, how do we actually think about what the true kind of unmet needs are? This is me trying to figure
out my own unmet needs of trying to hail a car in Jakarta and you can see there
looking at the right, that’s a real time video capture, that I wasn’t probably
gonna have the best luck hailing a car, the car
I think ends up moving to like 15 different vantage points. And then I realized that
I had brought my disease of Americanism with me, you
don’t hail a car in Jakarta. You ride a motorcycle, silly American. So then I pretended to
be a motorcycle driver, which of course you can tell is fake, ’cause the sticker’s still on the shield. But–
(audience laughing) This is the point of just saying like, this is really a jacket
that I have to wear in this temperature? It’s so hot, I can’t believe
I’m putting on a jacket. Why would I be putting on a jacket? And so all these things have to be what the driver’s experiencing. Why are they making me
put on this jacket on top, it’s already so humid,
why would I possibly be wearing a jacket? And then you’re thinking, oh
wow, they have to hand someone a helmet and that
helmet’s been sitting out in sweltering heat. This whole thing, someone
has not been here. (laughs) There’s a problem of not been here. And so multimodal mobility is the ability to think of on a single contract, the confluence of different
modes of transport. And in the future this is going to be, you’re going to leave
home, possibly have a bike or a moped, then string
together public transportation. That public transportation
is gonna carry you maybe to a car. So you might have three
different modes of moving, but they’re all unified
under one contract. Thus the benefit would be
you would pay subscription revenue, whoever wins your
share of subscription, it’s like okay, this is
my monthly mobility bill. And so-and-so is gonna take care of this. And this is why you would choose to go after a multimodal platform. And so because of this,
because I had been exposed to so many different modes of transport that I knew the teams in San Francisco weren’t talking about, I made a point of making this video for the team to just remind them of
all the different ways in which people are moving. With steering wheels on
both sides of the street, people thinking about flying, people thinking about logistics, people thinking about Tuk
Tuk’s and electric mopeds. And still thinking that
they were on the road. And so, car typography feels machine, because oftentimes its
history is of being machine, so you have these squarish letter forms that have been sanded down. So they all kind of look like
you start with a metal tile and somebody was like sanding
down until you had a D for Dodge or U for Uber and
it felt perfectly at home on the grill of a car. The problem was if we’re
branching towards other modes of transport, how is this
going to be believable? So I actually started
with one of my heroes, Paul Renner in trying to create a typeface based on geometric parts,
freeing it from the romance of the human hand and the calligraph. And so I actually started by trying to do something rather impossible, which is actually to create
a unification between Tommo and Latin English and the idea that Uber could be a typographic switch between any language in the world that it wants to communicate itself in. So the idea that we wouldn’t
actually have a logotype that would be a logotype
that where we know it, but what are the most efficient characters to get in and out of some
of the rarest languages in which we would have a presence? And so the writing old
art died a painful death. This is Michael Bierut consoling me about a painful death. And so he actually, just to reenact it, he had me draw the Uber
logo on the screen. So that’s what’s on the
blackboard behind him is that Uber R, so sometimes
these things go away. So we thought, okay, what do we have? We have these really dramatic
ways in which we’re talking about light and dark. We mailed these booklets to the CEO ’cause one of the things
that’s super helpful when you’re thinking back
to the Paul Rand books of the 60s and 70s, is
CEOs have so many things in their mind, the last
thing they wanna do is be thinking about making a decision in front of a highly loaded
in charge group of people that are all saying, “Is this the logo? Is this the logo?” And a lot of times they
just need to page by a book that’s dogeared and they
have their own notes and they can come to
it in their own times. And specifically, we wanted to
know that he was comfortable looking down at the road,
not being on the road. Because he was gonna be
thinking about flying cars and on-demand aviation. So that would be like a 2,000 foot view versus an on the road view. So we ended up celebrating
a word mark, not a symbol. This is something we heard
from drivers everywhere. They said, please don’t
give us another symbol because we don’t have enough resources to build meaning into it. We need just the cut and dry Uber that we can see a mile away. Which gives us the ability to say that we are becoming a tech platform. This is the moment the logo was approved, which is always rare that
you capture these moments and you realize how bizarre they are. And then we kept going,
thinking of ways in which we could make things through
creativity that might lessen the fear people would have
about self driving cars. Do they have alter egos? Like maybe one of them is
obsessed with the Beatles and loves “Yellow Submarine”. Maybe one is just all
about, where we’re going we don’t need roads. Or maybe just a Jeff Koons fanatic. But we still felt like we
hadn’t created something iconic. We still felt like you
could hold us accountable for stopping short at the
iconic aspect for the brief. We had done enough things that we believe if they delivered on them
would help move the needle towards them being respected, not beloved, because that would be foolish. But ultimately to think
about what is over here on the right if Coca-Cola
has that silhouette bottle, and Polaroid has that unique
distinction of the edge. So we looked at a lot of our
most favorite compositions. And then the night before we
were putting this together for their design team and
this accidentally snapped to the top of this composition in Keynote, someone realized, oh my
gosh, that’s a giant U. It’s a giant U in negative space. And this is for me, it
reminded me of the FedEx arrow, when the first time, someone
pointed out the FedEx arrow and you’re like oh my goodness. It’s a giant U that’s
been there the whole time. It hasn’t been commanding my attention, but now that I see it, I can’t unsee it. And could that be a
compositional signature that could help unify the whole system? And so we said we’ll just let, let it do it. So then the U frame became
a compositional signature, that allowed us to think
about something you could see from 1,000 feet away, ’cause you would see that big chunky U, and
the logo would just be the affirmation of the company that’s bringing you this message. And the U frame also could have details, context and footage, et cetera, et cetera. What we liked about it is
how easy it was to recreate. We can imagine being able
to paint a giant rectangle and being able to have
essentially defacto U frame by using a paint roller and
a bucket of white paint. Or be able to put together very easily square compositions that
celebrate the people and places that we served. Or again this hyper-efficient language of I don’t need another
brand talking at me, but I need a brand to
know, I just need to get to the airport and that’s all
I can think about right now. So designing for five
operating systems at once, knowing they all had to launch together. Thinking about different grid structures for languages that are both left to right and right to left in different
styles of variable leading. And really working with Mickel Type on creating and quarterbacking one of the, I would say probably the
best type design teams I’ve ever worked with. We had Wile, who was doing Arabic, we had Shiva who was doing seven dialects in India, we
had amazing people do Hebrew. So ultimately to think
together that when it leaves United States could it actually get better versus it degrading? I think most the people are
like, U.S. boom, we landed it. Great, success, yay, here’s the brand. And then it has to go
to these other regions. A lot of times these
teams are ill-equipped to be able to catch a
system that’s been designed without them being the intended audience. So we asked ourselves,
what would a transition between Latin and Hindi
Devanagari even look like? And can that be something we
get incredibly excited about? Just the idea of the
brand changing language. The mandatory Time Square takeover, which I’m embarrassed to even show, but it’s part of the process. And one of my favorite projects, this is from a student of
Bauhaus, Josef Hartwig, who thought to himself, why is Chess such a
difficult game to learn? It’s as if people are
attracted by the difficulty of the learning curve. I won’t make a cross foot analogy, but I think when you look at these pieces you’ll see wow, each piece
tells you how it moves by how it is carved. Right a castle says,
“I can only move north, “west, east and south.” The horse basically says, “I move in L’s” The bishop says, “I move in angles.” King and the queen, et cetera, et cetera. And for me this has always
been a perfect piece of design where the intention was one that, why didn’t somebody
have this intention sooner? Like to make Chess pieces
easier to understand. Is there a romance around
their level of difficulty? Either way, we thought
that safety should have an ability to cut through
the system at any moment. So when a lock is locked it becomes blue. When a helmet is above
someone’s head it’s blue. When a seatbelt is on it becomes blue. That blue would be the color of safety across the whole product landscape. And they had to use the discipline to only use blue in those moments, demonstrating the physical
or emotional wellbeing of the people they serve. Whether those are brake pads or the spine of a safety handbook or
the edges of a phone. The thing that gave you the assurance that this is Uber looking out for you. We also wanted to make
sure that we were looking at colors internationally
and weren’t locking into specific symbiotics of what red means in the United States versus what red means in this part of the world. And we realized that
basically transportation has this unified symbol of meanings versus this an arrow,
this is why we’re using it at this airport, this is
what this color means. So that’s what became our
tertiary pallette of colors were these kind of
almost like construction kind of colors and shapes of mobility. Then we had black and
white ’cause it had such phenomenal visual contrast. And that’s something we heard from all the drivers worldwide. And then safety blue
became our color blue, which is 4.58 to one. Just making sure that we could teach them about passing visual contrast. And that’s only one part of the game, but just mentioning AA and AAA contrast for all their mobile audiences. Looking at typefaces that have a nod towards transportation
that’s been designed with either international or
highly mobile users in mind. So whether it’s Interstate
or Highway Gothic, Johnston’s Railway Type in the
history of the underground. DIN Needle Schrift as well as Frutiger and all those great work in the airports. And so we created a
typeface called Uber Move, and the one distinguishing characteristic was this characteristic of the road, which for us became symbolic
of that lower case cap U that fuses with the B. But the most part, it’s not too fussy. It does have some
distinguishing characteristics so we couldn’t be blamed for
creating a geometric sans. But I think in many ways you’ll see that that stubby G, definitely nice nod to Interstate and Highway Gothic. That nice second story
A is a nice nod to a lot of kind of 20s and 30s faces. And it starts to feel like
it has its own ability to speak to the functional
demands of I press this thing, I know where to stand and I’m
looking for this trade dress that’s on this windshield. And this is a nice thank you
back to the team in India who really helped us crack this idea of using the arrow as the signature device in a lot of the compositions. These are the type specimens
on the day of the launch. And our way of kind of thinking, our kind of typographic predecessors of Renner, of Johnston,
Kinneir, et cetera, et cetera. How do you extend this to iconography? So it’s not just a
typeface, it’s the terminus that’s carried through to your icons and this language. How does the brand turn down its volume so it’s not always shouting,
but you can allow the drivers to have their own compositional space? And in the future, how do
you anticipate guiding people using mixed reality? So actually creating
iconography with your phone is actually contributing safety
blue in dimensional space. And again, things we wouldn’t have known had we not gone there. Thinking about moments in
your multimodal journey between riding a bike,
locking up your bike and then waiting to be picked up. That can actually be a branded
signature moment for Uber. A branded functional object
which marks the place where bikes shift to cars. Or imagining in Old Delhi, a U
frame that was simply painted using a roller, or that the trade dresses are all on the rear windshield in Delhi. And I will always love the
fact that this actually was taken out of the side of a car in the middle of a six lane highway, ’cause they’re much
better drivers in Delhi than they are in the United States. But we shot this out of a moving highway. And I think it was for us, important to then shoot billboards and apps that are from the places that you’re trying to communicate. Which I think is more difficult, but I think it gives the teams reassurance so they understand the name of that store, or they understand exactly
where this tree line is. This is an important detail. Back to the home front,
thinking about our launch. The system coming together,
which I think in branding this is like a big close your
eyes and hope for the best. This used to be, I think, the
definition of what success was in branding like seven
and a half years ago. Where you’d arrive at some page like this and go, “Yay! We did it!” And of course we all know
that’s not true anymore. And it’s really can the
team that you’re working with take the system, which
might have been a part of a bunch of convoluted meetings and then take the system with confidence and make better stuff than
you could have ever imagined. I think that is the appropriate reset on what success should be. So that means that things like guidelines, we can’t wimp out and
say, “Oh, it’s a PDF. “The excitement’s over,
we’ve already sold this in.” How do you actually create the excitement that we found from discovering
that motion language that’s evident in the guidelines itself? And the product team, we earned the right to exist in their space, which is lovely, because there was some
phenomenal designers which allowed us to think about working between different types of software, whether it’s Creative Cloud,
things like Figma and Sketch, and where these things all intersect. I kept the top right one
in just as a kind of badge of embarrassment, they were like, “Of course the graphic
designers would start “with car design (laughs)
using their own logo.” Anyway, yeah, don’t do
that, that’s a bad idea. But they had some amazing ideas about looking at inspiration
from video gaming, from low poly waves once
you’re communicating a car. ‘Cause you don’t have the memory bandwidth that you do on video games. So creating this for them, this was an amazing project
where we actually prototyped a skyport in the year
2027, looking at Mount Fuji and trying to create as
competent of a render as possible, thinking about
what the iconography would be, what the FCC and FAA,
all these things about. It’s telecommunications, it’s aviation. Is it a plane? It is a helicopter. All these things that
have not been decided yet, whether or not this is gonna
be a helicopter or a plane, because there are different
rules about what the cockpit will have to be, et cetera, et cetera. But this was the best that we could do with the information that we did. And we said, “Okay,
this feels like you guys “are a mobility platform,
which is exciting.” And then, here was the
moment where we thought, my goodness, now we’ve
given this impossible system over to a team, are they
gonna be able to catch this? And another embarrassing shot of me wearing a crazy
onesie, but this is the CEO on the far right side,
congratulating Peter Markatos after essentially navigating the gauntlet that was executive approval
as we had a sea level that was coming into
being from CEO, COO, CMO, those were all newly announced roles, all in and around launch. This was a piece that was
shared to me by the AMEA team and I was blown away,
’cause it looks better than any of the billboards
that we had designed for them notionally, this
was an actual billboard in Berlin, working with a street artist. And for us this was an amazing moment where we hadn’t actually
thought of a multi-sided out of home that was this complex, where would the app badges go? And for us it felt remarkable. This is the team’s takeover
of the Paris Metro. Again, just unbelievable,
coming from their in-house team to extend and do something that probably we wouldn’t have done this soon. Fill in the U frame with
this much contextual detail, but it looks great, it’s captivating. The team actually decided
to publish “77 Things” to actually tell the world
about universal design, which is great hitting
victory for the teams. And this was Uber Light launching in India in both Hindi and Kannada and ultimately I think we ended up doing eight dialects. I think we initially had bookmarked seven. This is amazing project to be able to see a five megabyte app come to life after the UX research
basically said that people are downloading a 243 megabyte app and then deleting it after each ride. So if you can just
imagine that shenanigans, so the product team goes,
“We’re gonna fix this. “We’re gonna take 243, “we’re gonna subtract however many megs “off of that to get a five megabyte app, “which means that it has to
be incredibly efficient.” So what are all the things
we actually need to say? And it’s like well, blue, black and white. That’s a very simple
and paired back system. So ultimately this is
the stripped down version which was so successful they’ve
actually been rolling out Uber Light to other regions. (crowd chattering) This was the day of the
IPO, just so happened that 99U coincided with
the IPO, so they invited me down to the stock exchange,
I’ve been to before, but not something where
you’ve done this much of a takeover, walking
through the oculus seeing the system come to life. Walking in front of a wrapped colonnade. And just feeling a whole host of emotions. So many people that started
the journey weren’t there at that moment, so many
people that weren’t really a part of it were definitely
there in a big way and you realize that
these design projects, you never can tell how they’re gonna go. You never can tell how
they’re gonna end up. You can never tell what
the company’s gonna do with the thing that you’ve given it. But I think this is one of those things where I look back on
already what they’ve done since IPO, which is actually combine with public transportation in Denver. They’ve rolled out UberCopter in New York, you can take a copter to JFK. They’ve released a financial
services program platform called UberMoney which we helped name. And you can now take a Scuber
to see the Great Barrier Reef which a little ridiculous. But they see themselves
as a mobility platform which for us, that was
a real secret ambition is first know that you are
more than a double digit ride hailing competitor to someone else. Know that you’re actually the platform that’s deciding how the world will move. So really kind words
from Armin where he says, “The potential to be a
case study we will discuss “20 years from now as
long as Uber delivers “on positive change.” And so after this, I thought
I will never ever ever do a mobility project ever again. And then, I had another phone call from a company called Lime. And you may be familiar with them. And they said, “We are
a multimodal mobility.” I was like, “Whoa, that’s a new mobility. “I need to look that one up.” So multimodal means basically like you are the platform itself, you’re
kind of the Swiss cheese. Micromobility means you’re
the holes in the Swiss cheese. So Uber was multimodal, which is basically like all the stops. This actually is the definition, actually think it should say micromobile. But if you think about it,
first mile and last mile are for the most part always
tied to public transportation. Meaning that the gap filling
that’s happening is one, gap filling that’s gonna have to happen for all urban metros. Specifically because 70% of
people are gonna move to cities. We know these are gonna be problems that are not gonna go away. Multimodal companies
are troubled with both what they call thick and thin cities, which basically means
different levels of density in urban and metros. Micromobility is basically
saying we need to get people to public transportation and
then from public transportation to wherever their going, thus we will take cars off the road. If we take cars off the road,
so for instance Lime in 2019 surpassed 100 million rides,
meaning that the rides, had people taken them, would
have been 25 million miles of car travel, 1.2 million gallons of gas and 9,000 metric tons of carbon emissions. So you start to do the math on this and it starts to become
incredibly compelling. How much did we end up doing for them? Honestly, we said, “You guys
are doing so many things right, “that we almost want to do
the least that we can do “to say yes, green is a phenomenal color.” Green is a phenomenal color specifically because that’s the color of the bike lane. So whatever you do, don’t change green. And it feels like you have
a lot of pride in Lime, so just keep the name Lime. And then for us, it was just about actually their
mnemonic which we thought was something that was incredibly catchy. And so we left them with our excitement of their mnemonic. (logo tones) And it hops up and it’s
like, “Hey I’m Lime.” So you’ll see those rolling out. But I think we wanted to
try something different where we actually drew
all of the letter forms from the lime itself. So the L is just a portion,
it was kind of like a quarter angle of that, the M
takes some sloping details from the curvature inside
and the E is drawn alongside the angle back to the L. And so for us it was also exciting to be in a different typographic mindset about what this will be. So I think you see the
issues of if all things are not being equal then you
don’t even see the issues because the person on the right can’t even see above that
wall, that partition. And with equity you’re
trying to give everyone an equal chance to do something, but the problem is you’re
still aware of the limitation. I think the big thing is, how
can these three individuals be free from these obstructions and snags? And then ultimately then
we will truly realize the mobility as a service. So I’m officially out of time, but I’ve left some. I know you all “Back to the
Future” folks got that one. And now I’m done, thank you so much. (audience applauding) (energetic music)

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