Shannon Darrough is from California but lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. He works in the Department of Digital Media at MoMA where he handles many of the design aspects of MoMA.org and it’s various subsites. After eight years in the Big Apple, he's finally traded his California identification for a New York City driver's license.
Plastic Toy Animals and Six Dozen Inflatable Penguins
If you have a degree in what field is it? A BA in sociology from UC Santa Cruz. I did stints studying graphic design at CCA in San Francisco and Central Saint Martins in London but didn’t finish a degree.
What’s the best site you've seen lately? What’s so great about it? I don’t think that I have ever been as obsessed with a site as I was with ESPN3 when they streamed so many of the World Cup games. It was an addiction.
If you were to change professions, what would you choose to do? International soccer star. I hear the benefits are good.
Design or technology? Which is more important? Why? The former. Technology is a tool that design uses to solve problems.
From where do your best ideas originate? Sometimes in my sketchbook. Sometimes in the shower. Rarely on command.
How do you overcome a creative block? There are several techniques I employ, all of them unreliable: go for walks, revisit the sketchbook, look at exhibition catalogues, peruse design annuals, surf the Interwebs, play tennis, have a snack, take a nap... Sometimes something will click. More often it doesn’t. And when it doesn’t, the “it” moment usually occurs after staring nervously at my monitor for hours or days on end. Go figure.
In one word describe how you feel when beginning a new project? Exciterrified.
What well-known site is most desperately in need of a redesign? My first thought is Google but I see that it’s a popular answer in this column so let’s go with Apple’s site. It’s not that I don’t like it; it’s just that it’s been copied so pervasively that it no longer has the same impact. (And let’s put an end to this bottom mirror madness.)
Do you have creative outlets other than Web design? Music and, for the last five months, a puppy. Well, the puppy isn’t really an outlet; he’s more of a demanding pastime.
What music are you listening to right now? Some remixes by Lunice.
What product/gadget can you not live without? The various devices that connect me to the Internet would be impossible to live without but that’s a matter of necessity and not very exciting. On the level of pure enjoyment, I have a big stereo that I adore.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve bought online? Hundreds of plastic toy animals for our wedding—including six dozen inflatable penguins.
What’s your favorite quote? Nowadays I’m finding a lot of resonance in “Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.” —Oscar Wilde
Do you have any advice for people just entering the profession? Working hard is a given... don’t forget about playtime.
What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? See the answer to the question regarding design vs. technology.