Labs Life: Getting to know Shauna Jin

Each week we try to give our readers insight into the inner workings of Sutherland Labs. This week, it is well past time to meet the life of the party at San Francisco Labs. When she isn’t holding impromptu concerts, roaming the forest, attracting swarms of teens, and feeding the masses with her three-bean chilli, Shauna Jin is a Senior Service Designer.

How did a girl like you end up in a joint like this?

Shauna: I really wanted to be a physicist when I was growing up but my mom told me that I should do architecture or design. She obviously saw something in me that I couldn’t see myself. I didn’t do architecture or design to begin with, just to be contrary, but over the years I have ended up studying all of them. Just like she predicted.

While I was studying to become an industrial designer, I got into human centred design. Then I picked up my research skills while I was getting my PhD in sustainable design. After that I freelanced for a few years, helping some of the different start-ups around San Francisco.

Shauna's items she picked up whilst foraging.

I am really into foraging and nature, so I did a project with a start-up that organizes tours and events around sustainable food, e.g. mushrooming, seaweed harvesting or kayak fishing were big parts of their business. I helped them to develop their business strategy, which had been organically growing up till then. I did some research and discovered that they had two big but distinct groups of customers, the outdoorsy folks who thought the prices were high but were just happy to be outdoors and the foodies who were willing to pay more but expected more too in terms of the overall curated experience.  By understanding the two types of customers, they were able to design new offerings that were catered to these different perspectives and expectations.

I joined Sutherland as a Researcher and I recently made the switch over to Designer officially a little while back.

What is the unique talent that you bring to Sutherland?

Shauna: I bring in the community aspect to the Labs! On my first week I brought in bottles of my own homebrew beer. Today I am cooking three-bean chilli in my pressure cooker. I have to justify the pressure cooker we bought for the office so that we can occasionally make big meals to share at lunch. I keep holding events that attract European students. Last week I brought in a whole bus-load of Danish media design students who were touring offices in San Francisco and when I was involved in running the Global Service Jam I somehow summoned a dozen Spanish Students that were in here bouncing all over the furniture, filling the air with their hormones.

Shauna and the team making chilli

What do you do for fun?

Shauna: I was at an electronic music festival last week in memorial of Don Buchla, who passed away recently. He was one of the fathers of West Coast electronic music, one of the pillars of the community. He designed some of the very first synthesizers using touch pads, oscillators and joysticks instead of keyboards. A real innovator who designed with people in mind.

I am a cat lady at heart. My cat Escher and her sister Gödel, who just happens to be a dog, live with me, so I like to stay close to home. Which means having big house parties. I like to cook for friends and we regularly have local musicians over to play classical music via the Groupmuse platform. Then we invite everyone that we know, everyone from the neighbourhood and everyone who overhears us inviting everyone that we know! There are always people that I have never met before. I made a lot of friends and acquaintances through that community.

Shauna's pets

I get a lot of inspiration from meeting new people so house parties and field research are absolutely great. I like to read a lot of books too, because reading a book by a new author is kind of like a random encounter on the street too. I skim news and trends online but the internet feels less genuine sometimes.

Electronic music one day and Classical the next? Cats and dogs living together? Three beans in one chilli? All in a day’s work for Shauna! Come back next week for more stories from the Labs.

The Labs Team

Sutherland Labs