John Maeda, president of Rhode Island School of Design, comments on his ideas of time, simplicity, and technology.
He describes how the pendulum is now swinging back from technology towards humanity and creative leadership.
Both men are titans of the TED conference style of presenting “ideas worth spreading” to the Web. John Maeda emerged at TED two winters ago talking about The Laws of Simplicity, while inside he was reeling toward his own future, head still spinning from Ken Robinson’s TED talk a year earlier on education as a standardized way of crushing invention. Maeda, a star at MIT’s Media Lab, still in his thirties, heard a call from the heavens to “change my life.” And so he did, moving from MIT and the engineering of technology to the presidency of the Rhode Island School of Design and the teaching of art and innovation. After a RISD year that he’s been blogging at every turn, Maeda’s invitation to Robinson to give the commencement address felt like a personal thank-you and maybe an appeal for confirmation. Early on RISD’s graduation day, we had a three-way gab at the Hope Club in Providence about expressiveness and originality, in art and life, across the board.
Now to leadership — how to be a leader in this new design-aware and oriented world we seem to be entering. John Maeda is president of the celebrated Rhode Island School of Design in the USA. He took up this post in 2008, but prior to that was a designer and computer scientist, and a tenured professor. John talks with By Design about his shift into leadership — and becoming a leader.
This week’s podcast is an interview with the president of the Rhode Island School of Design, John Maeda. Maeda has spent his career at the crossroads of art and technology, where he has consistently pushed the boundaries of each field to explore how these disciplines shape one another. In the late 1980s, after earning degrees in software engineering and physics at MIT, Maeda, on the advice of a professor who had noticed his talent, went off to study art in Japan. At first, he was happy to leave computers behind, but slowly he discovered that art and science were more connected than he had previously imagined.