Joining Barnum as Senior Design Strategist

I am a designer, strategist, entrepreneur and a trouble maker. I do many things, but most of all I love to design, tell stories and connect people. I was born in Singapore, raised in Hong Kong and spent the last 7 years in Rhode Island. Leading up to joining Barnum, I've been meandering from adventure to adventure, where I served in the Singapore military, studied at Rhode Island School of Design, co-founded an annual conference called A Better World by Design, was selected as a TED Fellow, cycled across the United States, and started a design consultancy.

While training as an industrial designer at RISD, I found myself becoming less and less interested in the outward appearance products and more interested in understanding manufacturing processes and material engineering. This took me down the rabbit hole of questioning how products can change behaviors, which eventually lead me to asking how companies and brands can positively influence culture.

Combining my love for design, story telling and entrepreneurial way of thinking, I help clients come up with creative solutions. In my work, I navigate between ideas and implementation, believing that ideas on their own are meaningless unless they are well executed and sustainably designed.

How did you become interested in media?
I have always been fascinated by how things are made, and I am one of those kids who would take things apart and then learn that I didn't do it in a way that I could put them back together. Growing up, I was always fascinated by brands and packaging. I dabbled with the idea of being an architect, but I found myself being more interested in how design can influence people, which is how I ended up in media.

How did you get started in your field?
I first started freelancing when I was 15, doing workbook layouts for a middle school teacher.

What was your educational background? What did you find most useful for your career?
Although I got my design degree at RISD, I found myself learning most of my skills and knowledge outside of the classroom. It was between starting a conference and my own design consultancy, where I had to learn the ways of business, fundraising, negotiation, and management while developing a viable financial model.

What were some jobs you had before your present job? Which did you like most/least?
I co-founded A Better World by Design while I was still in school in 2008, a conference that brings about a thousand attendees to Providence, Rhode Island every year. I am still involved with the conference at a high level as a board member, steering the students committee who plans and execute the event. I then started my own design consultancy, Big New Ideas, right after college, with the goal of using design and storytelling to help forward-thinking organizations communicate and build communities.

For a short stint, I was doing sales for an online t-shirt company which I found myself completely out of place...

What are the functions of your present job?
I am bringing my eclectic experience in design management, strategy and community building to provide a different perspective to the table. And maybe once in awhile get to roll up my selves and do some design and development. :)

How has technology changed since you started working in the media?
I remember the time when <blink> tags were popular...

What are your goals for the future?
Some day, sell everything I own, and live off the land.

What do you think will be the state of your industry in ten years?
We can influence our culture to get beyond the flashiness of technology and social media to rediscover the value of face-to-face meeting (or find ourselves more isolated by technology…)

What’s one thing you collect?
I generally don't like the accumulation of stuff… but I do like books.

In another life, you’d be … ?
A farmer

What’s your dream vacation?
Traveling across Europe on bicycle sampling the food and wine, exploring architecture ending up in majestic old churches.

Name one invention that you couldn’t live without.
Pen and paper. I think I can live with out my phone, but I love to doodle and sketch.

What’s your favorite start up / entrepreneurial endeavor of the year?
I am not a big shopper, but the startups that caught my eye this year are ones who are disrupting the fashion industry: Warby Parker and Everlane.

Tino ChowBarnum, Design, Strategy, Q&A