Interactive designer Troy Lachance combines a liberal arts sensibility with over twelve years of experience in the interactive industry. For the last five years he has led interactive studio Bluecadet’s design team in creating compelling user experiences. Previously a senior designer for the Smithsonian Institution National Portrait Gallery, Lachance specializes in experiential design, UI and UX. He holds a Master’s with distinction in history from George Mason University, which informs his work for museums and cultural institutions. His clients have included MoMA, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Financial Times, Doctors Without Borders, National Geographic, the Field Museum, the Philadelphia Art Museum, the Franklin Institute and the National Park Service. His projects have been recognized by SXSW, Adobe, the Webbys, the FWA awards, the AWWWards, AAM Muse Awards, HOW magazine and Communication Arts.
Simply Do the Work
How did you learn interactive design and get started in this profession? I started with a liberal arts background in history. I never intentionally made the decision to learn interactive design. It evolved out of tasks I was given in grad school—I went to George Mason University, which had one of the first graduate programs in history and new media—and then a side project that I was given during my first job at the Smithsonian. I suppose you could say it found me, but then I worked like hell to get to the level of the work that inspired me.
How do you keep yourself inspired? This may sound a little weird, but I find inspiration simply by putting my head down and diving into client work. There’s no secret method. In my role as design director, I get pulled in so many directions—hiring, creative direction, marketing and business development, even a little project management. Fortunately, I have a great staff, which gives me the luxury to say, “Hey, I’m taking some client work. I’ll be in my design hole for the next few days.”
What well-known site, app, or platform is most desperately in need of a redesign?
apple.com. It’s still sporting the now-dated iOS6 look and I’m not sure the new bright iphone 5C colors totally complement it.
What excites you about interactive design right now? The native capabilities of mobile technology (geo-location, accelerometer, microphone, etc.) and the opportunities they present for smarter, location-enhanced interactive work.
What’s your favorite quote?
“Inspiration is for amateurs—the rest of us just show up and get to work.” —Chuck Close.
This pretty succinctly sums up my feelings about design. We can get into this cycle of meetings in hopes of identifying a concept that everyone loves, but most of the time, even if we love an idea on paper, it doesn’t hold up once it’s explored in depth. More often than not, the solution presents itself when you take the time to simply do the work. I don’t mean to minimize the importance of taking the time to understand the story and content before you dive into Photoshop, but I usually find my best ideas when I’m in the process of doing the work itself.
What sites/blogs do you frequent? For web work, I frequent the usuals: thefwa.com for creative web campaigns and awwwards.com for website eye candy and UI inspiration. Then there is awards.ixda.org for inspiring physical installation work, Fast Company for general design and business thinking and Pinterest for general or specific design inspiration.
If the Internet didn’t exist, what would you be doing right now? I’d like to think I’d be curating and designing history exhibitions. I still hope for that.
What is your favorite app, and why? Evernote. It’s where I think.
Which digital and interactive design studios do you love and look toward for inspiration?
I’ve always loved the texture and subtlety of the work from iamalwayshungry. Instrument is putting out some great interactive work. I’m really digging Legwork’s style. AKQA, Grow Interactive and Fantasy Interactive continue to produce beautiful, creative work.
What’s the best website, app, or platform you’ve seen lately? I’m really inspired by the World Wildlife Fund iPad app by AKQA. Beautiful photography, design and execution.
What emerging technologies and innovations will have the biggest impact on how you design in the next few years? As soon as I identify something it will be obsolete, but I think Cinder, the programming framework from The Barbarian Group, is already forcing some pretty big shifts in our design process with its strengths for realizing beautiful, dynamic, data visualizations. I expect it to continue to push us.