This op-ed was written for the Masters in Design Research Writing and Criticism program at the School of Visual Arts under professor Karrie Jacobs. Much has changed since October of 2019, but I’ll stand by it. It is an op-ed, after all.

Image courtesy of designmom.com

At first glance, serious art critics and Instagram influencers have very little in common. They live in distinct worlds, broadcasting themselves to their audiences in glaringly opposing ways. The art critic composes an opinion that invites the layperson into the conversation of contemporary art with society at large while influencers compose the perfect selfie. Though their media are…


In place of pizza and chit chat, the evening started with a (remote) collective deep breath as a moment to pause and acknowledge the current situation. Just like every other second Tuesday of the month, the Service Design Network (SDN) New York Chapter gathered to build community and learn something new. Only, this time, the group wasn’t able to gather in-person. So, chapter leaders did what designers do best — come up with a solution that best meets the needs of who they serve, within tight constraints, while using available tools.

Many events hosted by the SDN New York Chapter…


This essay was written for the Masters in Design Research Writing, and Criticism program at the School of Visual Arts under professor Akiko Busch. The class was prompted to write about an object that mediates personal meaning after reading Evocative Objects, a series of brief autobiographical essays by scientists, artists, and designers that trace the power of everyday things. Compiled by sociologist Sherry Turkle, these essays frame objects as “companions” that anchor emotional and intellectual inquiry. Evocative objects are the ones that inspire thought and compel us to ask ourselves bigger questions. …


The art of tidying digital clutter

(The tidiest my bookshelf will ever be)

This is an edited version of a a published piece from IBM Design’s Internal Magazine, Variable, Volume 4: Consume

A tiny blue book sits neatly positioned on upwards of 5 million bookshelves worldwide, gently reminding all who walk past to keep things tidy. In bright red font, the spine reads: The Life‑Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The palm-sized bible of home organization is written by Marie Kondo, a woman steadfast in her mission to help humanity live clutter-free through the use of her wildly celebrated KonMari Method. Since her book hit shelves in 2011, she’s become a #1 New York…


How UX can make or break a legacy

Matters of user experience design are rarely, if ever, a case of life or death. Nonetheless, the way users are influenced by an interface can be a large factor in the results of life altering decisions. This is especially relevant as more government services and financial institutions transition to meet expectations of the digital age– whether it’s being able to sign up for food stamps or applying for a mortgage to buy your first home, more and more people rely on online and mobile applications to accomplish increasingly impactful tasks. In the (sexy) world of life insurance, the most discrete…


Lessons learned from forcing myself to paint again

Watercolor and me go way back — to my first year of middle school. I can’t genuinely say that our relationship was a storied, star-crossed romance or a tale of hardship and betrayal. It just sort of was, like that one kid you sort of knew sitting on the other side of the class who, for all intents and purposes, could have been your best friend if you had ever took the time to walk across the room to say hello. I remember painting color swatches and gray scales in early classes, but watercolors quickly fell to the wayside. For…

Polly Adams

designer + researcher / writer + doodler (www.pollylouadams.com)

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store