John Maeda

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John Maeda
John Maeda Portrait by Helena Price.jpg
Taken for Helena Price's landmark

John Maeda (born 1966) is an American executive, designer, technologist. His work explores the area where business, design, and technology merge to make space for the "humanist technologist."[1][2] He is an EVP & Chief Experience Officer at Publicis Sapient[3] where he helps established companies transform digitally by bridging business strategy and engineering-at-scale with computational design[4].

Early life and education[edit]

John Maeda was born in 1966 in Seattle, Washington where his father owned a tofu factory.[5]

Maeda was originally a Computer Science student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he became fascinated with the work of Paul Rand and Muriel Cooper. Cooper was a director of MIT's Visible Language Workshop. After completing his bachelor's and master's degrees at MIT, Maeda studied in Japan at Tsukuba University's Institute of Art and Design to complete his Ph.D. in design.[5]


As an artist, Maeda’s early work redefined the use of electronic media as a tool for expression by combining computer programming with traditional artistic technique, laying the groundwork for the interactive motion graphics that are taken for granted on the web today. He has exhibited in one-man shows in London, New York and Paris. His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Cartier Foundation in Paris.[6]

He is formerly Global Head, Computational Design and Inclusion at Automattic[7] where he sought to address the diversity gap in tech[8] by exploring how inclusion could be a key ingredient for success in the technology industry.[9][10][11] Before that he was Design Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) where he advised startups on the business impact of design[12][13][14][15][16] and continues as a Strategic Advisor. He also serves on the Board of Directors of consumer electronics company Sonos and global advertising firm Wieden+Kennedy.

He was a Professor at the MIT Media Lab for 12 years where he fostered a community of designers who could code and engineers who could design called the Aesthetics + Computation Group[17][18], and then created the Physical Language Workshop[19] with Henry Holtzman. Shortly after the launch of the Design By Numbers[20] project to teach artists and designers how to code, he helped to accelerate the Scratch language project in an NSF proposal with outreach across the digital divide.[21][22] He resigned from MIT in 2008[23] to become the President of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), just as the global financial crisis of 2007-09 took hold.[24]

In 2011, RISD's faculty majority passed a vote of no confidence in Maeda.[25][26][27] He survived the vote,[28] and subsequently led RISD to be recognized by the business community as number one in the world[29] while shepherding the national STEAM movement,[30][31][32][33] feeling that "art and design are poised to transform our economy in the 21st century like science and technology did in the last century."[34] For his work in advancing STEAM education, Maeda was recognized with a Tribeca Film Festival Disruptor Award[35] and the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts & Public Policy[36] at the John F. Kennedy Center.[citation needed] Maeda resigned from his presidency at the end of 2013[37][38] and joined eBay Inc. as Chair of their Design Advisory Board[39] and KPCB[40] to advance design in Silicon Valley as chronicled by Stanford's Barry Katz.[41]

In 2014 and 2015, he guest curated and hosted PopTech: REBELLION[42] and PopTech: HYBRID.[43]

In 2015 he published his first Design In Tech Report[44] to connect the investing world with the world of design and technology. A 2nd Design in Tech Report[45] was published in 2016 and later in 2017, a 3rd Design In Tech Report was published.[46]


In 1999, he was named one of the 21 most important people in the 21st century by Esquire.[47] In 2001, he received the National Design Award for Communication Design in the United States and Japan's Mainichi Design Prize.[48]

In 2009 he was inducted into the New York Art Director’s Club Hall of Fame, and he received the AIGA Medal in 2010.[5] He is a trustee of the Cooper–Hewitt, National Design Museum.[49]

Honorary doctorates awarded by Drexel University (2017)[50], Simon Fraser University (2014)[51], Maryland Institute College of Arts (2003)[52].


  • How To Speak Machine: Computational Thinking For The Rest Of Us, Penguin Random House, 2019
  • Redesigning Leadership (Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life), MIT Press, 2011
  • The Laws of Simplicity, MIT Press, 2006.[53]
  • Creative Code, Thames and Hudson, 2004.
  • maeda@media, Thames and Hudson / Rizzoli / Bangert Verlag, 2000.
  • Design By Numbers, MIT Press, 1999.
  • Tap, Type, Write, Digitalogue Co., 1998.
  • 12 o’clocks, Digitalogue Co., 1997.
  • Flying Letters, Digitalogue Co., 1996.
  • Reactive Square, Digitalogue Co., 1995.


  1. ^ Dreifus, Claudia (1999-07-27). "A CONVERSATION WITH: JOHN MAEDA; When M.I.T. Artist Shouts, His 'Painting' Listens". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-02-10.
  2. ^ "Maeda's SIMPLICITY: 2 Letters 2B Human". 2008-06-21. Retrieved 2018-02-10.
  3. ^ Schwab, Katharine (2019-06-18). "5 years ago, this design guru went to work in Silicon Valley. Here's why he's done". Fast Company. Retrieved 2020-04-04.
  4. ^ Maeda, John. "John Maeda says there are three kinds of design—but one is most important". Quartz. Retrieved 2020-04-04.
  5. ^ a b c "2010 AIGA Medalist: John Maeda". AIGA | the professional association for design. Retrieved 2017-02-19.
  6. ^ "John Maeda | MoMA". The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 2020-04-04.
  7. ^ "John Maeda, Why Automattic?". August 18, 2016. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  8. ^ "Tech execs acknowledge diversity gap. So, what's next?". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2017-02-19.
  9. ^ "John Maeda's New Design Problem: Tech's Utter Lack Of Diversity". Co.Design. 2016-08-19. Retrieved 2017-02-19.
  10. ^ "Design For The Rest Of Us". Traffic Magazine. 2017-12-12. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  11. ^ "Tech Has A Diversity Problem–So This Designer Went To Kentucky". Co.Design. 2017-12-15. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  12. ^ "John Maeda Joins Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as Design Partner". Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. December 4, 2013. Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved 2014-01-25.
  13. ^ "The World's Top 10 Most Innovative Companies of 2015 in Design". Fast Company. 2015-02-09. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  14. ^ "Take It From an Expert: Design Is More Important Than Ever". WIRED. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  15. ^ McFarland, Matt (2015-03-15). "John Maeda says design is winning in Silicon Valley". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  16. ^ "KPCB's John Maeda: 3 types of design every company needs to know | VentureBeat". Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  17. ^ "aesthetics + computation group :: mit media laboratory".
  18. ^ Dreifus, Claudia (1999-07-27). "A CONVERSATION WITH: JOHN MAEDA; When M.I.T. Artist Shouts, His 'Painting' Listens". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  20. ^ MIT (1999). "Design By Numbers".
  21. ^ "Development of Scratch 1.0 - Scratch Wiki". Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  22. ^ Resnick, Mitchell (2003). "A Networked, Media-Rich Programming Environment to Enhance Technological Fluency at After-School Centers in Economically-Disadvantaged Communities" (PDF). MIT.
  23. ^ Browning, Dominique (2008-09-02). "Design for Learning: RISD Gets a New Type of President". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2017-02-19.
  24. ^ "Digital Thinking at Rhode Island School of Design". Fast Company. 2008-10-01. Retrieved 2017-02-19.
  25. ^ Tischler, Linda (2011-04-20). "RISD Old Guard Clashes With Its Tweeting President John Maeda". Fast Company. Retrieved 2017-02-19.
  26. ^ Siclen, Bill Van (2013-12-04). "RISD president John Maeda to leave for job in Silicon Valley". Providence Journal. Retrieved 2016-09-27.
  27. ^ Johnson, Paddy (2011-03-11). "RISD's President John Maeda Responds to No-Confidence Vote". Art F City. Retrieved 2016-09-27.
  28. ^ Tischler, Linda (2011-04-26). "John Maeda Mulls RISD's Backlash Against His Cyber-Style Leadership". Fast Company. Retrieved 2017-02-19.
  29. ^ Rose Dickey, Megan. "The World's 25 Best Design Schools". Retrieved 2012-11-23.
  30. ^ Fontain, Henry. "Putting Art in STEM". Retrieved 2014-10-31.
  31. ^ Magazine, John Maeda for Seed. "On Meaningful Observation § SEEDMAGAZINE.COM". Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  32. ^ "John Maeda: STEM to STEAM – MIT Media Lab". MIT Media Lab. Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  33. ^ "CultureLab: From STEM to STEAM: Adding art to science". Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  34. ^ "Reps. Bonamici and Schock Announce Bipartisan Congressional STEAM Caucus". Office of Congresswoman Bonamici website. February 2013. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
  35. ^ "John Maeda - STEM to STEAM Initiative". Disruptor Awards. Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  36. ^ "Nancy Hanks Lecture 2016: John Maeda". Americans for the Arts. 2016-03-21. Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  37. ^ "John Maeda Moves On". Rhode Island School of Design. December 18, 2013. Retrieved 2014-01-25.
  38. ^ Cronin, Steve. "Steve Cronin: Maeda deserves better as he leaves RISD". Retrieved 2017-02-19.
  39. ^ "John Maeda to Chair Newly-Formed eBay Inc. Design Advisory Board". Retrieved 2017-02-19.
  40. ^, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers. "Introducing KPCB ProductWorks: Because We Need More Edisons". Retrieved 2017-02-19.
  41. ^ "Make It New". MIT Press. Retrieved 2017-02-19.
  42. ^ "John Maeda on PopTech and VC Life: "Conferences Are the New College" | Xconomy". Xconomy. 2014-10-21. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  43. ^ "Hybrids and the Slash Generation: John Maeda Breaks the Funk | Xconomy". Xconomy. 2015-05-14. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  44. ^ "Design in Tech Report 2015". KPCB. Retrieved 2016-03-19.
  45. ^ "Design in Tech Report 2016". KPCB. Retrieved 2016-03-19.
  46. ^ "Design in Tech Report 2017". John Maeda. Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  47. ^ "More of The Esquire 21". Esquire Magazine; Hearst Communications, Inc. November 1999. Retrieved 2008-04-11.
  48. ^ "MAEDA NAMED ONE OF YEAR'S MOST INFLUENTIAL DESIGNERS". MIT School of Architecture + Planning. June 2005. Archived from the original on 2013-12-11. Retrieved 2007-07-17.
  49. ^ "Board of Trustees". Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Archived from the original on 2014-02-02. Retrieved 2014-01-25.
  50. ^ "Art and Tech Innovator John Maeda to Speak at Drexel Commencement at Citizens Bank Park". DrexelNow. 2017-03-20. Retrieved 2020-04-04.
  51. ^ "SFU 2014 Honorary Degree Recipients".
  52. ^ "History of MICA's Honorary Degree Recipients". MICA. Retrieved 2020-04-04.
  53. ^ Maeda, John (2006-07-07). The Laws of Simplicity. MIT Press. ISBN 9780262260954.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]