Design Alumnus Releases Book on "Creative Clarity"

Katie Herzog

Jon Kolko, an alumnus of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design and the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (2000), has just published his latest book entitled “Creative Clarity.”

“Most companies don't know what creativity really is, so they can't benefit from it. They lack creative clarity,” said Kolko. “In a creative environment, chaos is the backdrop for hidden wonderment and success.” The book aims to help readers find clarity in the midst of this chaos in order to “build great products, great teams, and a high-performing creative organization.”

Since graduating from the School of Design, Kolko has filled a range of creative roles. He served as a faculty member at Savannah College of Art and Design, principle designer at frog design, head of design at a startup, and founded the Austin Center for Design, which teaches a curriculum built on his education at CMU. He’s also authored several books including Well Designed and Exposing the Magic of Design.

He’s now a partner at Modernist Studio, a practice he describes as “a strategy, innovation, and education company.

“We help our customers build great products, services and teams, and our focus is on value: on identifying insights about behavior, designing new products and services, and spreading knowledge of our process through formal training and coursework,” added Kolko. “Our work is beautiful, but we’re not artists. We ground our creative work in the realities of business. We think of artifacts as a business negotiation, and we use our design skills to help our customers think strategically and build the future. 

“I have great memories of CMU,” continued Kolko. “One of my most vivid memories is actually of one of the first days of freshman year's Design Thinking class with Dick Buchanan. He asked the class ‘What is design?’ I've been working on forming an answer to that question ever since.” 

When asked about design education, he added, “I tell students looking for an education that each school has a unique way of approaching design. Some focus on beautiful forms, others on systems thinking, and others on methods. CMU's program focuses on people. I learned an empathetic process for building new products and services that are usable, useful, and desirable: people are at the center of that design process.”

“Creative Clarity” will be available October 15th.

Find “Creative Clarity” on Amazon >>

Date Published: 
Thursday, September 28, 2017
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