Eric Karjaluoto


I’m a designer—but not the kind you’re thinking of. I’m not fun, stylish, or hip. If you met me, you’d consider me boring. I don’t chase trends or try to make cool looking visuals. I concentrate on clarity, order, and function. This involves a lot of observation, planning, writing, and big picture thinking.

The common thread in my work is that order can be applied to all things—through the design and implementation of systems. This typically involves identifying and clarifying purpose and goals. With this understanding in place, we can work together to establish brand systems, information systems, and design systems. This might involve how an organization communicates its values and ideas, the way it structures content, or how users interface with its applications or materials.

For the past 17 years, I’ve worked as the Creative Director at smashLAB. Ours is a tiny company and we work (almost like internal partners) with a small number of clients. These organizations include: Arc’teryx, Saltspring Soapworks, 8×8, Crescent Spur Heli-Skiing, The Vancouver Aquarium, The Nature Conservancy, Tourism Vancouver, and UMN’s Institute on the Environment—to name a few. TIME, Communication Arts, Icograda, and others have recognized our work.

We divide our time at smashLAB between work for others, and internal projects. These experiments help us learn and stay sharp. We run Officehours, which helps professionals offer/access feedback and advice from others. We built Campnab: a service that helps you nab sold-out campsites. We’ve also played with a public chat service called Chapp. We’re currently building Emetti: a tool aimed at making IA planning easier.

I wrote the books The Design Method and Speak Human. I also used to write on a blog at ideasonideas. My wife, sons, and I live in Vancouver, where we run, hike, mountain bike, ski, and go camping. (More on what I’m doing now, and what I don’t do.)

Last edited September 13, 2017