Oh man! Carly Ayres has had her hand in just about everything! Including the initial beginnings of the hugely successful global CreativeMornings. She talks to us about making the world more accessible for people of a range of lifestyles, abilities, and identities in the coming future…and much much more!
Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs? My background is a mix of art and design. I studied Industrial Design at the Rhode Island School of Design, but also dabbled in graphic design, printmaking, ceramics, and furniture making. I almost didn’t graduate because I had taken more classes outside of my major than within it.
Fortunately, I did — and ended up joining the ranks of CreativeMornings after sending a cold email to Tina Roth Eisenberg. At the time, the lecture series was just getting its start, so we all wore multiple hats, but, over time, my role became taking Tina’s vision for CreativeMornings and translating that into a voice and tone that would resonate with attendees across the globe.
Give us the elevator pitch on what you do. I’m a writer and creative director, but I typically describe myself as a specialized generalist or generalized specialist.
After CreativeMornings, I did a stint at a branding agency, some time in Google’s Creative Lab, and now have my own practice generally specializing in words, design, and the internet.
Tell us about any collaborations you have been working on. As of lately, I’ve been collaborating with a few folks I met in the Creative Lab (Andrew Herzog and Pedro Sanches) under the shared moniker of HAWRAF. We recently worked with Nicky Tesla on a website for an exhibition called Temporary Highs, which opened in New York back in June.
The website is a continuation of the show’s concept in the form of a pseudo-social network, where users get points for any number of actions including clicking, scrolling, and engaging with the site’s contents.
I also frequently collaborate with Jacob Heftmann and Jake Hobart of XXIX on unti-tled, a website and newsletter of art to see in New York right now.
What is the design landscape like on your city and where do you fit in? New York is teeming with great design. The best part of it, though, is that it’s full of so much more, too. Saturdays are usually spent checking out art galleries in Chelsea with a few friends. (It also helps that I have the shared responsibility of keeping unti-tled up to date.)
As someone who has their hands in lots of different things, I often find myself connecting the dots between people and practices. I run a Slack community of creative folks called 💯’s Under 💯, where I’m able to facilitate more of that overlap and share work and resources.
Where do you think design is heading in the next five years and how will you adapt? The future is bright. Aside from my belief in the impending apocalypse, I see a huge opportunity for designers in the next five years in making the world more accessible for people of a range of lifestyles, abilities, and identities.
As the problems we face become increasingly complex, there will be no one-size-fits-all solution and the skillsets we bring to the table need to be as diverse as the audience we’re making things for. The best way to adapt is by not getting pigeon holed by any one specification or forté and instead embracing a broad range of design and disciplines.
What advice would you give students starting out? Expose yourself to as much as possible. Talk to people. Ask questions. Go to museums. Take a class in something that isn’t design. Read non-fiction. Read science-fiction. Pick up some Calvino while you’re at it. Learn to cook something new. Go outside. Take in as many inputs as possible, and your outputs will be that much richer for it.