What’s Design Mean to You? An Interview with Thomas Vander Wal

Like a fool, I missed both of Thomas Vander Wal’s presentations at Reboot 10. I heard they were good. So it was only coincidentally (and after the conference was over) that I managed to get this interview with him a the funky Fox Hotel where he was staying.

So what’s design mean to you, Thomas?

It’s the layer on top of things that are used, that makes them comfortable and gives them more ease of use. It’s adding experience but taking away the hard edges, and allow people to embrace the tool or service in a closer interaction.

Other than that, his explanation of “the four foundation layers” for developing social tools gave me plenty to think about.

After the interview, Thomas and I coincidentally discovered a shared love of typography, and spent an afternoon in Copenhagen, a beautifully designed city, hunting interesting type with our cameras (his booty and mine). It was a blast to spend time with Thomas: he spit out interesting stuff the whole time, and I wish I’d written it all down.

I’ll be seeing Thomas again soon, and would love to do another interview. What would you ask him if you could? If you’re as interested as I am in what he’s got to say, leave a comment with your questions, and I’ll gather them up and me and my camera will ask him next week.

I interviewed eleven smart people at Reboot10 in Copenhagen, Denmark, asking the same question: what’s design mean to you? This is the last video in the series.