Chris Young

Chris Young is a Seattle-based entrepreneur and professional chef with a background in theoretical mathematics and biochemistry. From 2003 to 2007, he worked at the Fat Duck with super chef Heston Blumenthal as well as opened the Fat Duck Experimental Kitchen. He left to work with Nathan Myhrvold on Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. In 2012, he cofounded ChefSteps, which invents appliances and develops cooking methodologies for a postindustrial society.

Introduction

Chris Young is a rare combination of inventor, entrepreneur and chef. He is the co-author of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking and the co-founder of ChefSteps, a Seattle-based company that invents appliances and develops cooking methodologies befitting the postindustrial society.

ChefSteps recently introduced Joule, a small and easy-to-use sous vide tool, the first of many of the products planned by Young and his team of over 50 chefs, scientists, photographers, writers and engineers. “One of the things that makes the kitchen such an interesting challenge from a technological standpoint is that it's not enough to move bits around, you need to push around some atoms too if you want to make people happier in the kitchen,” he wrote to me in an email. “So we decided we were going to have to take the lead on building some new tools for the kitchen if we wanted to see the kitchen get reinvented in a useful way.”

It was enough for me to get interested. We met for a chat in my office in San Francisco and ended up talking for hours about the future of restaurants, Munchery, Soylent, fancy Michelin-star restaurants and, most important, the future of food. This is one of my favorite conversations. I hope you get a chance to read and enjoy it.

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Joshua Allen Harris

Joshua Allen Harris is a 39-year-old New York–based visual artist and photographer. After studying graphic design and illustration, he worked for brands such as American Eagle and J.Crew as a men's wardrobe stylist. He became internet-famous with his Air Bear project in 2008, and he picked up a camera in 2012. Harris lives in Brooklyn with his wife Cameron.

Introduction

I was introduced to Joshua Allen Harris a few years ago by friend and photography enthusiast Bijan Sabet. I had admired Harris’ work on Instagram: His reductionist style of visual storytelling was something that spoke to me on a deep level.

Harris told me about a project he had been focused on: taking photos of Broadway, a street in Brooklyn. He wanted to chronicle the story of the street. He recently released his visual narrative essay in the form of three books: Tahoma, Belmont and Broadway.

As soon as they came out, I ordered the books and asked Harris to chat again, this time for pi.co. We ended up talking about his journey, the concepts behind the trilogy and the changing concept of photography, from art to language.

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K.K. Barrett

Oklahoma native K.K Barrett is an Academy Award–nominated production designer known for his collaborations with Spike Jonze and Sofia Coppola. He has worked on movies such as Her, Lost in Translation and Where the Wild Things Are.

Introduction

In Nov. 2014, I hosted a design conference in San Francisco, and one of our keynote speakers was K.K. Barrett, the production designer for the Spike Jonze movie Her. Deeply unsettling and yet so believable, the movie pointed to a compute-intensive future with an invisible interface. Her was a peek into a world where invisible computing machines and artificial intelligence act as surrogates for some of our human connections.

K.K. and I were hanging out backstage and started talking about a whole bunch of things, many of them too abstract to remember. Fortunately I recorded some of our conversation on my iPhone. Here we are talking about Her, design, dating and the business of modern life and why it isn't that important. This is a quick read!

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Erik Spiekermann

Erik Spiekermann is one of the most well-known and creative thinkers in design. A type, information and graphic designer by trade, he began his career teaching at the London College of Printing in the 1970s. In 1979, Spiekermann co-founded MetaDesign in Berlin, and in the 1980s, at the cusp of the PC revolution, he co-founded FontShop, a distributor of electronic fonts. He has designed fonts such as Berliner Grotesk, ITC Officina, Nokia Sans and FF Meta. He is also the co-founder of design house Edenspiekermann. He divides his time between Berlin and the Bay Area.

Introduction

Erik Spiekermann has forgotten more things than most successful and creative people know in their lifetime. Now in his sixties (68), the German-born designer and typography guru remains as excited about the future as ever.

A few years ago a friend invited me to have dim sum at Hakkasan in San Francisco. The high-end Chinese spot is a particular weakness of mine, but what made the prospect even more delicious were the other guests: Erik Spiekermann and Susanna Dulkinys, his business partner who also happens to be his lovely bride.

The lunch and subsequent email exchanges led to an invitation to speak at one of my design conferences in San Francisco. Erik was interviewed by Jeff Veen, another modern-day design legend, and they ended up talking about a whole bunch of things, including why fonts on modern digital devices suck. Erik's plainspeak resonated with the audience and to date, it remains one of my most memorable moments as a conference host.

Since then we have become friends, though we don't see each other often. We have the ambient intimacy afforded by modern social platforms, with an occasional email and a rarer meal or a coffee. Last year it was on one such occasion that we ended up having this conversation. It was long, rambling and a lot of fun. I promise there will be a part two in the future!

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