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An Interview with Eric Karjaluoto

Eric is a Canadian designer, who is passionate about ideas and experience. He studied at the Emily Carr Institute and worked as a painter prior to focusing on design. He now guides creative at smashLAB, where he fosters an atmosphere of pragmatism and design-focused thinking.

Eric is particularly interested in creating work that builds a dialogue with viewers and engages them in experiences. In 2007, he spearheaded Design Can Change, an effort to unite designers to address climate change. Eric is a member of the GDC and AIGA and writes about design at ideasonideas.

 

CB:What fascinates you about the web?

EK: I love that its growing so fast. Every day its a little bit different, and its almost as though we daily gain insight into how it can be used, which we hadnt thought of before.

 

CB:What would you change about it?

EK: Not much. I like to think of it as the worlds collective project. There may be some aspects that arent quite as I like, but perhaps thats not the point. 😉

 

CB:Your blog, ideasonideas, is getting to be pretty well known, especially for having a very strong point of view. How has this affected your identity as a designer and smashLABs business?

EK: The biggest change for me is in being able to personally connect with a number of like-minds in communities I might not have been able to visit otherwise. As for business, I dont think weve seen a notable change; that being said, it wasnt ever really about that.

 

CB: What technology has had the greatest impact on how you do your job?

EK: Thats sort of a tough question. I kind of want to say, all of it but I don’t think that’s what you’re looking for. I suppose the one I use most is still email. Its perhaps not the most exciting technology to mention, but it sure is tied into my daily life the most of any.

 

CB: Who has influenced or helped you the most in your career?

EK: A number of people have helped me along the way. My parents always supported my desire to do something less traditional, and Im very grateful for that.

My business partner Eric Shelkie and I have an interesting relationship, as we share the same dreams but come to them from different vantage points. I learn to be more pragmatic through his influence.

My wife and son have taught me that none of this is really that important anyway. (I think this may be the most relevant point to be mindful of in ones work.)

 

CB: What makes you uniquely suited to your role at smashLAB?

EK: I’m curious and I work really hard.

 

CB: Every firm needs to be creative to keep consistently afloat in this industry. What are some of smashLABs top survival skills?

EK: We look for things that irritate us. Whenever we find something that isn’t quite as wed like it to be, we see potential for innovation. Beyond that its all pretty basic. We love new challenges and get excited about things easily. It always seems that theres something new and fun to explore.

 

CB: If you had one sentence to pitch your latest and greatest idea, what would it be?

EK: Only come to us if you want to change.

 

CB: I believe that everyone has a specific and unique talent that comes in handy at just the right time. It might be something most people know about you or something very few know. What is your super-power?

EK: Once I decide upon something, I tend to obsess over it.

CB: That’s a super-power?

EK: It can be!

 

CB: If the worlds technological and economic systems were to collapse and revert society to locally-focused, agrarian communities, what role would you assume?

EK: I’d just find a way to make things. (I suppose Id just have to learn how to use actual tools.) Between that and my family, I dont know that Id need much else.

— Christopher Butler, Aug 18, 2008, Carrboro, NC

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