How Design Thinking Can Guide Startups Better [PSFK SEATTLE]

How Design Thinking Can Guide Startups Better [PSFK SEATTLE]

Seattle-based Artefact is a design consultancy that creates next-generation products and user experiences

  • 5 may 2013

Building up to our PSFK SEATTLE event on May 10th, we’re interviewing the creators and thought leaders who will be sharing their latest ideas with us. As a co-founder and principal of Artefact, Rob Girling is responsible for setting the company’s strategy and vision–to design exciting products and experiences that inspire positive changes in human behavior. Rob’s design career spans some of the leading agencies and design brands in the world, including Apple, IDEO, Microsoft, and Sony, and touches everything from interaction design experience, to natural user interfaces, motion graphics and 3-D design.

Why did you decide to start Artefact?

We started Artefact six years ago with the modest goal to create a world class, technology product design company.  We knew there was very few companies out there who are simulteaneously great creative technologists AND great designers, and who have a strong point of view about what makes products great.  We hope that our work has a long lasting positive impact not only to our clients’ business and our profit margins, but to society as well.

rob girling

How do you motivate positive change through design? 

Advances in behavioral economics, neuroscience and cognitive psychology have grown tremendously in the past few decades and has provided us with some better insights into human cognitive bias.  Understanding these biases as designers we can nudge behavior towards better outcomes (for the individual user). We have to remember that with knowledge comes responsibility—the question we face is less about how we design things, and more about why we do it and what the desired and undesirable outcomes will be.

What role does the A3 Incubation Engine play at Artefact?

We spend about 20% of Artefact’s bandwidth a year doing internal incubation projects that reflect our passions. Most of these efforts result in prize winning competition entries and client conversation starters (SWYP, WVIL). A few of these efforts present compelling enough ideas that we take them forward and explore business partnerships, and IP development.  In one  case we have taken an idea all the way to  market, launching a new tech startup company (   We are in the process of figuring out how to do more of this kind of thing in the future, and actively have several concepts bubbling away including things like Civic IQ.

Artefact 3

SWYP by Artefact

How do you define the boundary between technology and design?

We are in an ‘innovation’ age where deciding what to build is considerably harder than building most things. Design thinking allows us to solve challenging problems in the world, and technology is the medium we use to accomplish that.

Thanks Rob! Meet him May 10th at PSFK SEATTLE.


Visit PSFK SEATTLE to see who else is speaking and click below to buy tickets.

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