Podcasts have become the perfect on-the-go vehicle for curious and creative people with packed schedules and busy lives. Commutes, errands, and chores are now prime times to discover new perspectives, learn something new, or get inspired. We asked several designers in Gensler’s retail, hospitality, brand design, and mixed-use practice areas to tell us what they’re listening to and how it influences their work.
Who: Kathleen Jordan, Department Stores Leader in Gensler’s Charlotte office
What: The Design of Business|The Business of Design by Design Observer with hosts Michael Bierut and Jessica Helfand
Why: I love how the hosts in this podcast uncover the personal backgrounds of their guests and then link that background to their work. The first episode remains my favorite. It was the March 2017 interview with Director at MIT Media Labs Neri Oxman. Oxman grew up with architect parents and she started her education in medicine before she shifted to architecture. Her background resonated with me. I’m the daughter of a physicist father and a psychiatrist mother. I even started out in cellular and molecular biology. Her work is focused on the convergence of nature-based design principles and technology. The blending of biology and engineering is truly fascinating and inspiring. Great design should weave together all different facets of life to craft a rich story.
Who: Jill Nickels, Digital Experience Design Leader in Gensler’s San Francisco Office
Why: My daily commute is often spent listening to podcasts for inspiration. One of my favorite podcasts is How I Built This. Host Guy Raz sits down for lengthy interviews with entrepreneurs from some of the most innovative companies. Every episode is motivating. People like James Dyson, LARABAR energy bar founder Lara Merriken, and serial entrepreneur Marcia Kilgore discuss their careers in depth. Raz often asks his guests if their success is from luck or hard work. The answer is often surprising.
Another favorite of mine is Hidden Brain. The series reveals the science and storytelling behind the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior. Host Shankar Vedantam provides insights that apply to our work and lives. Episodes that investigate economics, anthropology, and sociology are always supported by captivating research. The way he weaves research into his reporting makes listeners embrace the unusual or unexpected.
Who: Richard Chang, Greater China Retail Leader in Gensler’s Shanghai office
What: TED Radio Hour by NPR with host Guy Raz
Why: Based on the original TED talks, the podcast explores similar themes that happen in our everyday routines. Episodes always feel relevant. Topics touch upon the more experiential aspects of life such as human senses or how people make decisions. The stories are relevant for our work at Gensler since we are emphasizing experiences in our designs these days. We’re constantly looking for refreshing thoughts and trends within the lifestyle sector. These various insights are presented in intriguing stories and they help me stay informed on the latest trends impacting other industries to solve problems — always a value-add to the design process.
Who: Cathy Terashita, Work Brand Design Leader in Gensler’s San Francisco office
Why: Invisibilia focuses on the unseeable forces that shape human behavior, experiences, and ideas. I’m fascinated by the way people interact with the world around them. The series is a source for me to hear how people process emotions, thoughts, or interactions, and I can better empathize and understand different perspectives after listening to an episode. The hosts have an elegant format for storytelling.
Every Little Thing is another podcast that asks engaging questions and generates thoughtful answers. No question is too big or small. The podcast looks for the extraordinary in everything. Episodes cover stories like the origin of the Cha Cha Slide, what your body does in space, and how famous voice actors got their start. I usually learn about something I never would have considered. It’s a good reminder how a great story communicates and simplifies complex ideas to make the unfamiliar more approachable.
Who: David Kramer, Digital Experience Design Leader in Gensler’s Austin Office
What: The Knowledge Project by Farnam Street with host Shane Parrish
Why: This podcast is an interesting dialogue across a range of subjects. The program reports on topics from the future of transportation to different types of decision makers. I love hearing about how other thinkers lay out the frameworks that they use for making sense of the world. Host Shane Parrish articulates complex concepts in a very accessible way, whether he is discussing psychology with a researcher or business with a startup founder. The host’s curiosity is infectious and you feel like you are learning something new in an instant.
OTHER PODCASTS WE’RE LISTENING TO
City of the Future by Sidewalk Labs with hosts Vanessa Quirk and Eric Jaffe
It’s no secret that cities are progressing to keep up with the times. Rapid urbanization, driverless cars, and evolving infrastructure are challenging cities to adapt. Hosts Vanessa Quirk and Eric Jaffe discuss one subject in detail each episode. The series is launched in March and is just a few episodes in, but has already caught our attention. The duo kicked off their inaugural episode with a conversation about mass timber. Skyscrapers wouldn’t have happened without the early innovations of structural wood. The hosts are joined by wooden buildings leader Michael Green and Sidewalk’s Director of Building Innovation Karim Khalifa to discuss how wooden buildings are making a comeback.
Winners and Losers in a Digital Age by L2 with host Scott Galloway
Winners and Losers in a Digital Age dives into weekly news driven by digital technologies and advancements. Host Scott Galloway takes on topics like crypto currency and what brands are shaping the economy. Galloway is the founder of L2, a research and business intelligence firm, as well as a professor at the NYU Stern School of Business. He teaches brand strategy and digital marketing. Each episode is great at tackling the nuances of each topic while illustrating the whole picture and its impact on the world.
Bulletproof Radio by Hubspot with host Dave Asprey
Bulletproof is known for their signature coffee and other healthy products, but the company is also a resource for learning about nutrition, technology, and science. Hosted by founder and CEO Dave Asprey, the series welcomes guests from the healthcare world to share tips on how to improve your mind and body. In a recent episode, Asprey interviewed neuroscientist Dr. Eric Kandel. Kandel is considered one of the pioneers of brain science today. In an informative talk about memory, Asprey and Kandel break down the relationship between science and art. Asprey brings the same energy to building a business as hosting a podcast.
Design Matters by Design Observer with host Debbie Millman
It has been 13 years since writer, designer, and educator Debbie Millman launched Design Matters. As an early adopter of the podcast, Millman has interviewed over 400 innovative minds. Marina Abramović, Milton Glaser, Malcolm Gladwell, Shepard Fairey, and Barbara Kruger are just a few people who have sat across to speak with Millman. The series is a go-to source for anyone fascinated or working in design.