The year 2022 was full of change and excitement at Cue. We started working with some new clients and partners in Finance, Arts & Sustainability, and Technology. We also launched our Studio’s website, onboarded new teammates, and founded Cue Labs! As the year comes to a close, here are the Cue crew’s picks of the most standout moments and experiences that shaped our year.
Architectural design has always been a source of inspiration for me. While physical architecture and digital design have their differences, I find that they have a lot in common, especially since both center around constructing an experience. This past year I have tuned into the developing relationship between the two, which has only seemed to deepen with the huge focus on providing a heightened virtual experience on all levels and across industries. Seeing virtual architecture, immersive design experiences, and augmented reality integrate into our everyday lives has inspired me to explore and continue to be curious when it comes to experimenting with design. Understanding that great designers are visionaries who analyze and keep up with new trends in order to heighten experiences on all levels is what I have learned from watching these two design practices merge.
– IMAHNI J.
At first, I was apprehensive about this new tool. At some point, all of us designers saw our future taken away from us by robots. But after some exploration and positivity, I saw light at the end of the tunnel! This year I learned to merge my favorite analogue techniques with the incredibility of artificial intelligence. I find it unthinkable to see images that never existed, that were created at that very moment, out of a jumble of concepts and words perhaps typed at random. Without going any further, it is a bit similar to creating on paper and seeing strokes, drawings, words, etc. being born from our fist, except that in this case, we receive a little more help. Artificial intelligence, used at your own discretion, can be fantastic. A piece of advice: use it on moodboards!
– MALENA G.
Couture and high fashion is one of those design realms that feels completely unattainable to be a part of. Just being a viewer or fan from the outside of the industry, there seems to be nuances of elitism at every corner. Since I can remember, I’ve heard of red carpet looks taking “200 hours to sew on these jewels”, etc. Impossible looking construction, and even more impossibly delicate. This year, seeing the Coperni show at Paris Fashion Week where a dress used new spray on fabric technology (Fabrican) to bring a dress to life before the audience's eyes felt like a big moment in fashion. The secretive, behind the scene-ness construction of a gown shifted to a tangible (although totally magic!) construction on the catwalk. The show felt effortless and futuristic all at the same time and it is a really exciting moment in what has felt like an otherwise traditional exhibition of design.
– TESS W.
Just when we thought Figma’s Variants were the end-all be-all for design system component creation…came Properties. Properties has encouraged us to create more composable components with fewer variants, enabling smaller libraries and lighter files. And with nested components, the ability to have nested properties and variants exposed is a total game changer. We’ve changed our work flow to really focus on making the components what we need them to be at their most flexible, and designing tighter yet more scalable systems.
– SELMA-RACHEL S.
I found myself in the tattoo parlor for the very first time on a spontaneous whim this past summer and immediately understood how some people become addicted to the process. I am always intrigued by the different ways people express themselves and questioned my lack of tattoo experience heavily as I paid more attention to the art form (thanks to my Instagram explore page). Tattoo art has stimulated my creative thinking–there is a connection between what tattoo artists do and what I do as a digital designer. Placement, line weight, shape, and color theory can make or break a tattoo–and that’s the same for digital design.
I’m also interested in how tattoos have become more widely accepted within workplaces. Is it because they’ve been normalized and shared online (like on Instagram), or maybe remote work is contributing to it as well? . A designer friend of mine got a QR tattoo that when viewed through a lens, opens up his personal design site. Something tells me there will be a lot more of AR/VR and QR design going on in the future of tattoos.
– IMAHNI J.
I came across this video/audio for the first time this year. These excerpts from interviews with the painter Francis Bacon are truly inspirational and I like to revisit this video from time to time. His words invite me to slow down for a minute in this fast-moving world, in which we rely every day and in all daily situations on technology. It reminds us of the finiteness of things, and the inexhaustible magic we can find in them. It seems important to allow ourselves to look for inspiration in history, in words, in objects we can touch and feel with our hands, in worlds not associated with art, to step out of the screen a little, and to remember, as creators, to go back to paper every now and then.
– MALENA G.
We closed Cue’s Brooklyn office in 2020 due to COVID, but it opened up new possibilities and ways of working. We transitioned to a fully remote team and over time, have found ways to connect online. We meet daily on Zoom to host our standups, have a FigJam “war room” for all our daily meetings and notes, and instead of parties we have digital “experiences” with AirBnB hosts. Sometimes we even get together in person to do something fun in the city. We communicate on Slack to have "normal" group conversations and make sure we chat about our personal interests outside of work to deepen our relationships as coworkers. Embracing remote work allows us to maintain our expectations for excellence and productivity while also providing a healthy work-life balance. More time to recharge helps us bring our best selves back to Cue.
– SELMA-RACHEL S.
It seems like designers are challenging traditional design “rules” and are experimenting more with mixed media. But since design is all about experimenting and finding creative ways to communicate, is this really rebellion? Or are designers just discovering new ways to design with all of the new software and technological advancements that allow us to do so? There had been an explosion of 3D design, grid-less websites, and “organic shapes” to steer away from how we were experiencing design digitally. But this past year, I've noticed flat design & grids coming back into digital experiences, providing a necessary structure while still keeping the “fun” and uniqueness that comes from exploring color, shape, movement, and interaction. What I'm seeing feels reminiscent of early 2000s design–a combination of brutalism, futurism, and Y2K/early web design. We're lucky that web apps and design software are so capable now to allow designers to easily experiment with these concepts.
– IMAHNI J.
Spotify Wrapped: On How Design Rules Are Meant to be Broken
While it's not something that came up this year, I feel like it's something that hit the ground running in 2022 and even then, there was a lot of discussion about it. Spotify's Wrapped 2021 campaign caused quite a stir in the design community and was a clear example of the fear and prejudice many designers feel when traditional boundaries are crossed. In this case, it shows the beauty of the relationship we have with typography, demonstrating that it can be used beyond written communication–typography itself is an art form. There are times when typography isn't just meant to be read. Typography that hits hard, that moves and stops us, becomes something even more effective than language. And this is exactly what Spotify did. This is not about "what is right or wrong," but rather about a fundamental step in the creative process: that of breaking everything to find new forms of creation.
– MALENA G.
Matthew Connor’s work strikes me as graphic and abundantly colorful with strong technical compositions that ground the abstract shapes. I love seeing his work–the graphic quality of the painting really speaks to me as both a graphic designer and a painter.
– SELMA-RACHEL S.
As Cue has settled in and embraced remote working, I have found myself eager for other ways to connect in my day to day. And as my playlists get longer, my suggested music seems to keep me stuck in the same few genres. That is why I was so excited to learn about the playlist sharing feature on Spotify called “Blend.” It marries two people’s musical tastes to create a joint playlist. You can see your music compatibility and see whose songs are whose along the way. The UX to build this playlist is simple and friendly. The UI is informative and personal. It’s a mini map into a friend’s musical soul as well as an expansion of your own algorithm. I’ve loved seeing the creative ways interfaces are expanding to embrace the fact that remote work is here to stay but people still want new ways to connect in their day to day. Listen to our Cue playlist here to get a “blend” of our musical taste at Cue.
– TESS W.