298 - Amy Schwartz
Amy Schwartz is a design leader with a track record of building effective teams and industry-defining brands
Amy Schwartz is an Independent Designer as the Owner and Head of Design at Radialinear Studio, where she builds vibrant brands, products, and experiences for trailblazing companies. Accepting new clients of all shapes and sizes.
She also recently launched Shape & Scale, a newsletter for design directors, managers, and principals.
She was previously the Director of Design at Hologram and the first Design Director at Cards Against Humanity.
Twitter → twitter.com/amydracula
Inside Amy's Workspace
- Lumina Camera
- Drop ALT mechanical keyboard with Astrolokeys keycaps
- Logitech MX Master 3 mouse
- Fujifilm X100V
- 2 LG UltraFine 4K Monitors
- Apple HomePod
- Macbook Pro
- Fully Jarvis standing desk
- Knoll Generation Chair in Grapefruit, with a custom Grapefruit Ultrasuede seat pad
- Rotring 800 mechanical pencil
- Bink glass water bottle
About her workspace:
This room is my office by day and a playroom for my children on nights and weekends. I love that it's a shared space for us to have fun, be creative, and be ourselves. The room is laid out for creativity and comfort in mind for all of us. While it's not always a pristine, cool background to my Zoom calls, it's an honest reflection of who I am – and I embrace that.
What is the most useful item in your workspace?
I'm obsessed with my chair. It's a customized Knoll Generation chair, and it's the most comfortable chair on the planet. In 2021, I led the design of Hologram's new 20,000 square foot office in Fulton Market in Chicago along with our architecture firm, Partners by Design. When furnishing the space, I sat in every chair by Knoll, Herman Miller, and Steelcase back-to-back. I fell in love with this chair, and we furnished the entire Chicago office with it. While I picked black and white chairs for our HQ, I purchased a chair in bright grapefruit pink for my home office. The Knoll team even produced a custom pink ultrasuede seat cushion to match. I will cherish this chair for years.
How do you spark creativity?
I fuel my creativity through curiosity and exploration. I fuel my curiosity by talking to people, having conversations, doing research, and growing my worldview through those inputs. Exploration can be more academic – like reading a book, or looking at art and design for inspiration – or more hands-on exploration, like collaborating in Figma or making a painting with my kids. The closets in my office/playroom are bursting with paints, markers, clay, Play-Doh, yarn, and other art supplies. Sometimes doing some low-stakes creative play is just what you need to unblock yourself from challenging, pixel-perfect, problem-solving design work.
How do you manage work-life balance?
Family always comes first. I'm very upfront about that at work, and I encourage my direct reports to feel comfortable embracing that as well. I ruthlessly prioritize at work and strive to be efficient while also focusing on high-impact work, so that I can close my computer and walk away in time to get my kids from preschool and enjoy dinner with them. My weekends are for recharging my creativity and energy meter, and I do that through time with my family and our shared hobbies – art, being outside, museums, and cooking. The recharge time is so important for me to be top of my game during the week.
What does the typical day to day look like for a Director of Design?
In a typical day to day, I'm running a one-on-one meeting with one of my direct reports, so that I can continuously support them in their professional development. I'll also be in meetings, like a design team sync, or a project-based meeting with my peers from product, engineering, or marketing. There's usually time for pair designing or design review with a member of my team. I always block off time for my own focus work, whether that's managerial tasks in Notion or Asana, or doing principal IC work on a design project.