Labs Life: Getting to Know Jun Chan
Welcome back yet again to Labs Life! Your chance to take a peek behind the curtain into the inner workings of the Sutherland Labs, and an opportunity to meet some of the wonderful people who work here. This time we have the unique opportunity to chat with Jun Chan, one of the designers in the San Francisco Labs!
So, what is your job actually like?
Jun: Even though my job title is “Designer” I am equally a researcher. Luckily, I am comfortable wearing many hats. In practical terms, I spend most of my days researching, sketching ideas and prepping for client workshops. In philosophical terms, I listen to people talking about their problems and work out how to make them go away.
Did you always want to be a designer?
Jun: I didn’t know the differences between “design” and “art” until university. I’ve always loved drawing, so I wanted to be a comic book artist or illustrator when I was younger. Once I had realized the difference, I started to study Design and Psychology. Over the years, I became more and more fascinated by design research. Though visual polish and executional design are important, what really matters is understanding who you’re designing for. It’s a great learning experience observing and speaking to those with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. Humbling, too.
What unique talent do you bring to the Labs?
Jun: Introversion. I love people, but socializing can be very tiring for me because I like to listen closely and heavily focus my attention on the people that I am with. This means that I have to be very intentional about how I spend my social time. Trying to focus on what will provide the most value.
Is there a particular area that you think would benefit from a more designed experience?
Jun: I have a lot of interest in designing for healthcare. I was part of a patient advisory council at Kaiser Permanente that worked with staff and other patients to improve healthcare services. I also did freelance graphic design and UX work for local community organizations in the health and wellness space. There are so many opportunities there, from better communication between patients and providers to better service delivery. Lots of moving parts that would benefit from service design. Lots to be done on cultural sensitivity as well.
On a personal note; Physical education could do with an overhaul too. Growing up, I hated PE, as I was never an athletic kid. The way PE was taught is geared towards kids who have a natural aptitude towards sports. Our classes were focused on team sports without any guidance on how to improve your actual fitness, so I spent most of the time doing as little as possible. I didn’t realize you could actually improve your fitness in a structured way!
How do you see your role evolving in the future?
Jun: In addition to research and visual design, I hope to be able to contribute to service design projects, where we can help clients design their entire end-to-end service. On an industry wide-level, I think that we really need to start thinking about the way that the technologies we are helping to propagate.
As services and products become more and more intuitive and streamlined – and begin to know more about you than you do about yourself sometimes – what are the ethical consequences? Imagine that you have a voice assistant that makes planning and purchasing decisions for you without needing much of your input. If your voice assistant can make things so convenient for you that you barely need to think about your decisions, is that an advantage or a huge detriment? Are you even a conscious human at this point? What are the consequences for society as a whole? How much friction do we need to build into products to account for this?
Will we still be conscious humans? Will physical education ever be about more than pummeling unathletic kids during dodgeball? How many hats can Jun wear at once? Come back next time for another exciting slice of Labs Life to find out all of these answers and more!