2015 Year in Review

Looking back at the themes and life events from the past year.

Disclaimer: This post is a personal retrospective on my experiences in 2015. It touches on what I have learned as a Product Designer, yet it also highlights some personal themes. I believe that the two are deeply correlated.

2015 did not start with a bang. Rather, it feels as though it began with a blur. The line between January 1st and the year prior seem to have merged in my memory. In hindsight, I suppose that will always be the case from year to year.

Why blurred, you might ask? Well, in May 2014, my girlfriend at the time, Emily, and I got engaged while visiting Colorado. This set to motion so many things that happened throughout 2015 that I can hardly keep track. To keep it brief, in the end we got married back home in Connecticut on a beautiful day in August 2015.

Our wedding day flew by without any flaws—the weather was perfect and everyone had a good time. For the creative portion of ourselves, the best part was designing the event. Emily is an event planner who utilized her skills to truly design her ideal day, while I seized the opportunity to finally letterpress some stationary—our invitations. I was also super excited to use Domaine Display—from the awesome Klim Foundry—as the primary typeface for our stationary.

In the end, what I’ve experience from getting married has been a greater sense of commitment and responsibility, not only for another person, but also for myself. This has trickled down to all other facets of my life—my career included.

Marriage at its best is a celebration of devotion and good intention. In that light, I found 2015 to be a year full of both.

As the year progressed I found myself having a greater sense of intention: the products I use, the information I take in, the food I consume, the people I spend my time with, the activities I cherish, the places I visit. Every decision I make has become far more thoughtful and intentional.

For me, intention has been about minimizing my life and having the ability to say no. The decisions I've been making have required me to be honest with others and myself.

That said, it is not a coincidence that I’ve always been minimizing the number of physical objects I own. As a long time cyclist and hobbyist photographer, I’ve recently—after a 20 year process—settled upon a defined set of tools for each.

The Leica M6 and my iPhone (6s as of this writing) have become the only two cameras I own.

When it comes to cycling, I am in the process of designing a custom frame with a local NYC builder, Breismeister Bicycles. It will be a cyclocross bike that can really do anything and fits my style perfectly. I’m incredibly excited and can’t wait to finish designing it.

Minimizing the number of bikes I own from four down to one has been something I cannot wait to see come together. I see this challenge of consolidating form and functions as a design problem—one in which I get to collaborate very closely on with and artist in their field.

In regards to my professional life, this past year has been quite the ride. Wildcard released version 2.0 of our product and was ultimately named by Apple as one of their Best of 2015 Apps. I’m incredibly humbled that the team I’m a part of was recognized with such a reward.

Also, our UX director, Khoi Vinh, has transitioned to an advisory role within Wildcard and I have stepped up to lead design here at the company. Through the transition I’ve been learning a lot about myself, team-building, design management and much more. I still have a lot to learn but I’m excited about this opportunity.

Outside of Wildcard, I’ve been working on a few side projects with some amazing folks. I am not quite ready to announce the projects just yet, but this type of work has really allowed me to expand my network and design thinking. I’ve found that having a few things on the side helps me remain more open and curious.

In that light, over the past year I began writing, blogging and sharing my thoughts far more regularly. I gave my first talk with a great NYC Meetup, Digital Product Design, earlier this year and have posted much more frequently to my website.

I owe much of this progress to the encouragement from the team at Wildcard. They have really challenged me to get on out there and meet new folks in the design and tech communities. And with that note, I feel incredibly thankful that I was also able to attend Google’s SPAN 2015 conference here in New York City this past fall. As the sole designer at Wildcard for some time, it was really fantastic to take a day off and really immerse myself in the design community.

Going forwards, I hope to connect with new designers, creatives and technologists—both online and in-person. If you’d ever like to chat shop just send me an email. I’d love to hang.

2015 was a year of good intention, increased responsibility, and overall a lot of great stuff, in particular our wedding. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all good. While we were traveling for our honeymoon, I lost a great friend of mine, Matt, who had been battling brain cancer for quite a while.

A few weeks prior, my friends and I had driven down to visit him in North Carolina for what would be one last time. It was surely an emotional trip. Tears were shared, but so were many laughs as we reflected back on all the good times we had.

Up until this moment, I had never experienced such a loss and wasn’t expecting the affect it would have on my own life, which has taken on an entirely new perspective. I’ll never forget Matt and the positive impact he’s had on my life and the lives of so many others. It makes me grateful to be able to call him, along with all of my friends…friends.

All this said, I feel blessed for the opportunity to work in a field that I love, to have a wife and family that support me, and to have the health and ability to see this amazing world.

Going forwards into 2016 and beyond, it’s my intention to leave behind only positive vibes, to be able to impact the world and the people I meet for the better.