I’m Kyle. I’m an American designer currently living around South East Asia.
What I do
At the moment, I’m living in Yangon, Myanmar working on the digital transformation team for Yoma Bank. With the mission to “build a better Myanmar for its people,” we focus on bringing human centered design practices to understand and develop products that enable the unbanked sector to join and gain an understanding of the formal finance system.
After getting my degree in industrial design, I worked for frog design on a number of experience strategy projects where I built skills in interaction design, design research, industrial design, and design thinking. After frog, I co-founded MedicSana after conducting a number of research interviews with Latino immigrants about how their families manage healthcare challenges across borders. Since then, I’ve worked on several freelance projects which gave me the opportunity to experiment moderating a Design Sprint in Mexico and build out the product strategy for an Austin-based social good start-up. I then spent some time with frog again in their Shanghai office where I helped an insurance company design a fitness tracking system, a car-share company re-think its future strategy, and even a skin-care company re-think its appea to Chinese men.
I’m obsessed with the journey between research insight and product creation, so I’ve learned a lot about design research, agile software teams (I’m a certified Scrum Product Owner), and lean business model development.
Why I do what I do
When I was young, I used to explore in my grandfather’s basement, pouring over the hundreds of National Geographic magazines he’d collected over several decades. I dreamt of being a photographer, an explorer, or an archaeologist – discovering new worlds, trying to bend my brain to think in new ways. I spent my days drawing and working in the woodshop, taking things apart and struggling to put them back together.
Today, my best days are when I’m in the field doing design research, brainstorming solutions to new problems, or simply wandering around – physically or metaphorically – a new environment. I love complex projects – the kinds that have a lot of variables and require a lot of learning. My favorite feeling is the flash of insight – that moment when you realize you were wrong about something – when someone or something gives you a brand new lens with which to see the world.
When I’m not designing things, I spend a lot of time reading and wandering.
I love learning about people’s perception of value – in the monetary, theological, or any other sense, so my favorite topics to read about include behavioral economics, development economics, cognitive psychology, history, and narratives about other cultures and what happens when they clash. I also love learning about systems, so books about economics, emergence, and systems thinking clutter my shelf. I’ve started collecting my thoughts and reflections on these topics on my blog, Knowledge in Society.
I love to travel (21 countries and counting…), and spend hours wandering around a new place just listening and watching. My favorite things to discover are the physical manifestations of cognitive dissonance – clever hacks that people have done to circumvent the way systems around them were designed. These dissonant moments are often a key to discovering an interesting underlying system – something unexpected, and often unknown, that drives the artifacts and behavior that surround it. I’ve started collecting these moments on my blog under Snippets.
Design research got be into photography as a way to tell stories. Over time, I’ve started thinking about it in the same way I think about drawing – as a new way to see. My photography portfolio is here.
Other interesting things about me
- I don’t own very much – I could move this afternoon with nothing but carry-on bags. In the past two years, I’ve lived at least a month in San Salvador, Guadalajara, Mexico City, Austin, Taipei, and Osaka, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Bali as well as added about 10 stamps to the passport.
- I really love Ska music. Over the years, I’ve played trombone, bass guitar, and guitar in different bands.
- When I was in high-school, I got in trouble for making fake school IDs with characters on them. Austin Powers, Mario, Homer Simpson – you name it, I sold it.
I blog at Knowledge in Society (named after F.A, Hayek’s essay of the same name). As a whole, the blog is dedicated to the “…dispersed bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory knowledge” that we find around us in the world.
A series of articles I’m working on about design research theory and practice. I focus on pragmatic advice to help the business community understand what types of problems are appropriate for design research projects. Read More.
Free-form reflections and photographs of curious things and people I’ve found. I love to find cleaver solutions to ordinary problems, and talking to people about things that I don’t understand. Read More.
A collection of my photography. I’m mostly an amateur photographer, though I do take paying gigs from time to time. See my Portfolio.
A few essays I’ve written over the years about the relationship we have with information in the world. Read More.