Wonderland, Lowriders, and the Starship Enterprise
We’re tagging along with Google UXers on their dreamiest virtual adventures
Shabi Kashani Interaction Designer, Central Accessibility
Choose your destination. Where would you like to go? On a journey of self-reflection in Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland (i.e. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland). Self-awareness and critique are how I continue to grow as an individual, and as a designer. Embracing the unknown with an optimistic outlook is essential to navigating life and resolving challenges.
You need to plan your trip. Where do you start? To-do lists and sketching. There’s something about using dotted paper with a permanent marker pen that gets the creative juices flowing. I’d also take my puppy for a walk in the park to let my subconscious mind do the heavy lifting.
You can take one person with you. Who do you choose and why? Salvador Dalí would accompany me as a spiritual guide. Dalí was a bold, energetic character who inspires me to break down the barriers of societal constructs. I’m fond of dream interpretation, and Dalí is an expert on the symbolism that awaits us in Wonderland.
What piece of the internet do you love so much you couldn't leave it behind? I’ve always been secretly obsessed with beauty and wellness, so I would need to take my YouTube beauty gurus with me. The artistry behind makeup is fascinating. It is very cathartic to actually apply makeup and skincare, and it also provides an outlet for self-expression.
You take a shortcut but encounter a problem on your way. How do you get out of it? I would use my skill of active listening to learn from Wonderland’s creatures. Bringing in new voices will help me wayfind—much like user research does in the UX world.
Finally, you arrive. What’s next? I’d dress up—hair, makeup, and all! Then I’d attend a live concert with friends and dance the night away.
Nafisa Bhojawala UX Manager
Choose your destination. Where would you like to go? A trip on the Starship Enterprise. To seek out new life and new civilizations, and boldly go where no one has gone before!
You need to plan your trip. Where do you start? I always start with reading a book or watching a great film that inspires and fills me with wonder about my journey. For this trip, I’d of course watch all of Star Trek and finish my research by reading Packing for Mars by Mary Roach. This book is hilarious and has everything I’ve wondered about actually being in space—though somewhat useless in actually preparing for space travel. But that should be ok, since the Enterprise will have everything I need for the trip.
You can take one person with you. Who do you choose and why? A socio-cultural anthropologist would be an ideal companion for intergalactic travel: someone who is a keen observer, a great listener, and who can synthesize large amounts of information into insights. They would need to have great empathy, and be open to being a close collaborator and friend—very important since we are both traveling so far from everything we know.
What piece of the internet do you love so much you couldn't leave it behind? I’d need YouTube to unwind after all the hard work and exploration. I’d watch videos on food and fashion, time-lapses of people painting, and clips of Trevor Noah and Lilly Singh to keep me laughing and connected to life on earth.
You take a shortcut but encounter a problem on your way. How do you get out of it? I’m an optimistic person, and I always like to see if there is a hidden opportunity when I run into problems. I would consult my travel companion for their take; we would need to agree on how we approach it. I like solving problems by experimenting and exploring different ways of doing something. I’d also look for others to join forces with us.
You pause for a rest. How do you spend your downtime? I will have my sketchbook and watercolors with me. I love painting abstracts, and what better place to do this than space. I am imagining lots of emptiness and strange landscapes, with completely new shapes, sensations, and color combinations than Earth.
Finally, you arrive. What’s next? A hot shower followed by a long nap is what I need after a trip. When I wake up, I’ll have many stories to share with everyone, so I’ll cook a big dinner and invite all my friends over.
Ruben Dario Villa Visual Designer (Shopping) Global Brand Lead (HOLA)
Choose your destination. Where would you like to go? I’ve had Nagoya, Japan on my mind for the last few years. It’s one of the most notable lowrider capitals of the world outside of the US. Inspired by lowrider roots in San Jose, California, and beyond, this blue-collar city has been building a reverent and world-class lowrider community since the 1970s.
You need to plan your trip. Where do you start? I’m not exactly sure when my love for itineraries started, but I can’t go on a trip without one now. The best ones start with research. I search “things to do in …” which quickly spirals. I’ll pin things to my Google Maps, stack rank them (including backups), then take a step back to see if there are any clusters I can tackle together. The end result is usually a solid doc—with “view offline” turned on.
You can take one person with you. Who do you choose and why? I’d make sure my wife makes it into my checked bag (we need a vacation sans kid) and I’d throw John Ulloa in my backpack. John is a Professor of History and Cultural Anthropology and advocate of the international lowrider community. John co-chaired the 1st Annual International Lowrider Studies Conference, so I’d say he knows a thing or two about the scene.
What piece of the internet do you love so much you couldn't leave it behind? Less internet. More music. On this ridiculously long flight, I’d take my go-to album for take off: Todo es Temporal by Jardin. I met the keyboardist at a microbrewery in Tijuana, Mexico—a story for another time.
You take a shortcut but encounter a problem on your way. How do you get out of it? When in doubt, lean into your people and trust your magic. Usually when I’m feeling uninspired or lost, I reconnect with folks doing cool stuff and ask how I can be of service. I’ve been able to build a community around being of service, which brings the creative energy I need to get my own work done.
You pause for a rest. How do you spend your downtime? I like to spend my time in the pursuit of curating culture, and building community. Above all, I enjoy doing that with the folks I love. Whether it’s reminiscing with the family over some food and drink or kicking it with the homies and scheming on the next side hustle—my current side hustle is Fúchila Fresheners—people are the source of my energy. And if all else fails, I’ll take my 1963 Nova for a ride.
Finally, you arrive. What’s next? Órale! I cook a big ol’ carne asada, turn up the oldies, pop open a cold beverage or two and watch the lowriders cruise (or hop) by. It’s less about the destination, and more about enjoying the journey.