Illustration by Fanny Luor

Over the years, I’ve been so lucky to work on teams that support my growth. Most notably, I’ve learned so much from Percolate, Dropbox, and leadership coaches.

I’ve tried lots of growth frameworks and found the best ones promote self discovery and focus.

In recent conversation, I discovered many of my friends are trying to grow, but struggling to make progress. I dug deeper and realized, growth frameworks are not widely known or practiced.

In response, I’ve shared growth frameworks with friends and they are now giving them a try. It’s awesome to see friends progressing in exciting new directions.


On March 28, 2017, I presented at a design event in Seattle. The event was organized by Zillow design and IxDA Seattle. Since the presentation was filmed, I thought it would be fun to share the video and (loose) transcript. Hope you find it useful and relevant.

Hello everyone! My name is Melissa. Today, we’re going to talk about transitioning between design mediums and teams.

Our design careers

To begin, let’s talk about our design careers. What do our career paths look like? Where did we begin and how did we get to where we are today? …


New beginnings

7 years ago, I pivoted my career from architecture to product design. With a lot of ambition and a bit of fear, I dove into the startup world headfirst. Over the years, I’ve looked for opportunities that would offer me mentorship and growth. I’ve reached out to the people and teams I deeply admired. Along the way, I’ve been so thankful for designers such as Khoi Vinh and Dom Goodrum who offered me opportunities, and forever, changed my life.

Most recently, I spent 2.5 years on the Percolate design team and it was an amazing experience. I joined Percolate in…


On Saturday, Joshua Taylor asked the following question on Twitter.

A number of people replied. Joshua then posted the following statement…

I looked at the replies to Joshua’s tweets and thought for a moment. It’s true. A lot of companies aren’t hiring Junior Designers. As a result, “inexperienced (but talented)” designers are having a hard time getting their careers started. I wondered, why are so many companies not hiring Junior Designers? How will these designers get started?

I think it’s important we help inexperienced designers get started. In this post I’m going to share how I got my…


In 2014, I started a blog series about Applying Architecture to Product Design. I had a lot of fun blogging about the topics of Circulation, Program and Sketching Tools.

3 weeks ago, I visited Los Angeles and was inspired to write the next post in this series. Let’s talk about the topic of Parti and see how it can be applied to both architecture and product design.

Parti and Architecture

During my trip to LA, I visited a Frank Gehry exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). …


1st bicoastal design team meeting

It’s the beginning of 2016. Like many people, I’m thinking about lessons learned in 2015 and setting goals for 2016.

I grew a lot in 2015 due to a lot of change, and a lot of firsts. Most notably, on March 31, 2015, I moved from NYC to San Francisco to expand the Percolate design team from the east to west coast.

Aside from college, this was my first time living outside of the tri-state area. It was my first time building a bi-coastal team. With the move, I got my first studio. …


Since graduating college in 2009, I’ve worked at 5 startups. I’ve learned a lot about building product design teams. Here’s what I think Product Designers need to succeed, and how these values guide design at Percolate.

True to product

Product Designers thrive when they feel the product is valued. The product, and it’s design must be an integral part of the company.

One of Percolate’s company values is that we’re “Led by Product”. This means,

“Product is not just what we build, it’s the way we are. Everyone in the company should be thinking in, and building, products.”

The Percolate product team is…


Two weeks ago, I turned to Elliott Romano, a Junior Designer at Percolate, and asked for a book recommendation. It was my last day in the office before a week of vacation and I was excited to load up my kindle with books. I knew Elliott would recommend something great, since we often discuss books about our shared interests; architecture, product design and cooking. Elliott thought for a minute, then recommended The Devil in the Kitchen — legendary chef Marco Pierre White’s memoir. I thanked Elliott for the recommendation and downloaded the book.

Once I arrived on vacation, I started…


Welcome to the 2nd post in my mini series about applying architecture principles to product design. As a Product Designer at Percolate with a background in architecture, I’ve seen many parallels between the two fields.

In the first post, we discussed the importance of circulation systems to both architecture and product design and learned to think about circulation early and often in the design process. The easier it is to navigate your product, the more likely it will be a success.

In this post, we’re going to discuss how architects get started with their design process and see how the…


As a Product Designer at Percolate with a background in architecture, I’ve seen many parallels between the two fields. In previous posts, we discussed the importance of Circulation and Program to both architecture and product design.

For the third post in the series, we’ll chat about hand-drawing, and learn how we apply architecture tools to product design at Percolate.

Importance of Hand-Drawing

In my first year of architecture school, I was required to produce all diagrams, sketches, and drawings by hand. Although this felt tedious at times, it taught me the value of sketching.

Architects are taught that there’s no better way to…

Melissa Mandelbaum

design @Dropbox. formerly @Percolate. architect by training.

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