Mike Kruzeniski is the...
"Principal Design Lead at Microsoft, in the Windows Phone design studio."
I was so happy Mike answered my questions.In my mind he is really famous. I have been hearing so much about the new Nokia Lumia, so it is really great that now I have an interview with a guy who played a big role in the design of that interesting device.
Q. What was it like working on the Windows Phone?
A. Working on Windows Phone has been an amazing experience. In the last few years, design has become a very important part of the way that Microsoft makes products. Engineering software is what Microsoft does best, but now, because we have a very close partnership with the engineering teams, we can collaborate on tough problems and come to solutions that work great, look great, and feel great. The design team itself is like a big family. Everyone on the team is extremely focused on building a product that makes everyday things simple, through an interface that has a unique personality, is fun to use, and is beautiful to look at. It's a very talented team that pours their hearts in to their work - but we also just get along really well. And that's important to us. We really enjoy going out to dinners or movies together (especially when it's a superhero or science fiction film).
Q. What to you, is great design?
A. Great design is the most refined, clever, warm solution to a meaningful problem.
Q. What computer do you use and why?
A. For my work at Microsoft I had a Lenovo Thinkpad with a 15.6" display. Personally I think the Industrial Design is a bit underrated. It's a clean, simple, flat black workhorse of a machine. I spend a lot of time back and forth between meetings, workshops, and the desks of colleagues or designers on my team, so I like to stay light and mobile by working with just the laptop. I don't even use secondary displays - I just keep the resolution on my laptop as high as possible. At home I've got a 24" iMac with a wireless keyboard and mouse. It's perfect for email and the web, and for side projects that I sometimes do on the evenings and weekends. Since my home office is basically in my living room, it's nice to have a beautiful and compact computer on my desk. I suppose the reason I don't have a laptop at home is so I don't end up trying to do work in front of my TV or in my bed. There's always lots of distractions at home so it's good to sit down and focus!
Q. What would an eighth grader have to do to get involved with the Windows Phone design team?
A. When I was a couple of years older than you I started learning HTML, so you're already way ahead of me! The tools have gotten so much easier and so much more accessible that if I were in 8th grade now and excited about Windows Phone, I'd have a try at building some apps (You can get the tools here http://create.msdn.com/en-us/home/getting_started and here http://wp7sketchflow.codeplex.com/documentation). Or, I might try mocking up design ideas and then ask for feedback (There are design template files herehttp://windowsteamblog.com/windows_phone/b/wpdev/archive/2010/07/27/windows-phone-7-design-resources-ui-guide-and-design-templates.aspx and here http://nordkapp.fi/blog/2011/05/wp7-for-designers-cheatsheet/). You could even sketch out ideas by hand with some sketchpads and stencils that have been designed for Windows Phone (http://www.uistencils.com/products/windows-phone-sketch-pad). The design team does its best to connect with people who are excited about Windows Phone through Twitter (@WPdesignteam). I'm sure they'd love to see your app ideas!
Q. What can we expect from you in the future?
A. I just recently made the very tough decision to leave Microsoft to move back down to California (I moved to Seattle from LA four years ago). This summer my wife, daughter, and I are moving to San Francisco, and I'll be joining the design team at Twitter. I expect Twitter will be quite a different experience from Microsoft. But, it will be similar in that I'll be working on big software challenges in the communication space, and I will continue to focus on making products that are beautiful and simple.
Wow! Possibly the best interview I have ever done. I wanted to add some "Windows nostalgia" to Mike's wallpaper. Buy it here.
Thanks Mike! instantbight