Jaime Krakowiak

Jaime Krakowiak

Jaime Krakowiak is an engineer and student of architecture dreaming of marrying logic and intuition through purposeful, user-centered design. Jaime has spent the last 10 years in Breckenridge, Colorado helping shape the landscape through water resources engineering and building homes that puncture the sky at 10,000 feet. Her path to interaction design has been cultivated through a constant curiosity and inquisitiveness in everything she comes across. She developed her love of taking objects and making them better while rummaging through thrift stores, and has taken this to a larger arena evaluating products for Outside and Backcountry Magazine, and as an athlete for Roxy Skis. Jaime is likely to be caught riding her bike in the middle of the night, and skiing remote peaks at dawn. While she may have to trade in her mountain scene in Breckenridge for the music scene in Austin, she’s looking forward to the new adventure. We, as a culture, have turned into hasty consumers, valuing excess as a symbol of success and answer to personal discontent, instead of placing value on experiences and time. A minimalistic mindset valuing fundamental and essential qualities is a key foundation to sustainability, and an underlying theme that I strive to portray through design.


Recent Blog Posts


A Cow’s Search for Her Wizard.

(A short story on social entrepreneurship based on readings from our theory class.)

A Cow’s Search for Her Wizard.

The usual characters gathered around the new hour school bus at AC4D. Ruby and Alex were handing over the keys to Jordache, wishing her farewell on her roadtrip to find her version of a wizard. The wizard she was looking for was a social entrepreneur, one that could help Jordache think in a disruptive and generative manner to save her farm so her friends could continue to live free and healthy. Her land was about to be sold to a corporate farm that valued shareholder wealth instead of a triple bottom line. Jordache tried googling it, but didn’t come up with anything – not because it was hard to type with her hooves, because there just didn’t seem to be one answer to her problem. She needed to collaborate with someone that had courage and determination to help find a better solution, but where would she find this person?

Jordache set off first to San Francisco, the land of the startups to see if she could find her wizard. She was disappointed to only come across greedy capitalists that were stuck tapping away behind their computers, not willing to help unless it meant more money in their pockets.  “But you have to help,” she exclaimed, “you know how to capture value!” Yunus saw her struggling and consoled her, explaining that she was in the wrong place; she needed to find someone that also valued social and environmental metrics and make them a priority. But Jordache questioned, “how?” Dees suggested that they needed a change agent that could do thesese things, along with seeing possibilities and opportunities that others had a hard time doing under current conditions.

The threesome headed across the open road to the east coast, and came across Spears, who was hitchhiking to Detroit. Maybe the wizard was there? Spears took them on a tour of the city, and gently let Jordache down – he or she was nowhere to be found. They only saw vandalized buildings and stripped away cars. Spears explained that the people of the city weren’t at fault, they weren’t able to control their actions like they should. They were forced to make the best out of the limited choices with the knowledge they had. They ran across LeDantec staring sadly into one of the buildings, drawing balls of tangled yarn with his finger into the dusty, broken windows around the words, ‘transportation,’ ‘housing,’ ‘technology,’ ‘food,’ and ‘healthcare.’ He just kept repeating, “wicked problems, wicked problems, wicked problems,” over and over under his breath. They couldn’t budge him, he said that he had to stay and be with the people if he were going to try to help them. They left him there, but quickly ran across Baumol who tried to explain the situation: the Detroit car manufacturers weren’t able to create an energy efficient car because of the rules of the oil game, and they lost the automobile industry battle because of it. Discouraged by the misguided entrepreneurial allocations, they headed south to find a wizard that practiced productive wizardry.

Eek! Jordache spotted what she thought was the wicked witch of the east, but low and behold, it was just a student of Prahalad, selling satchets of soap to the displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. They picked up Rittel on the side of the road, who told them that the student didn’t mean to create so much garbage as a result, but he wasn’t very inspired and didn’t have the right value proposition. His one answer to a wicked problem was just a symptom of another unique problem. Karnani looked on, wishing that the student would employ the victims in making the soap, instead of making them spend what little money they had on it. Jordache was on the verge of giving up, and steered the bus back towards Austin. She even passed a guy that looked like Tim Brown holding a sign that said, “I don’t need a faster horse, I just need AC4D. Austin or Bust.” She thought it was odd, but decided to take the risk and pick him up. She drove through the night with her crew of literary companions, tossing 5 Hour Energies back like they were Pez.

Jordache pulled into town at dawn, her head was hung low, but she was excited by the glow of a tent over the AC4D house. Had she not seen this before? Martin was drinking his coffee on the front steps, and wondered how could she not have seen this before? The people who had put up the tent of social fortitude had always been there. And inside, she found not one wizard to help her farm, but many.

The END.

Posted in Classes | Leave a comment

Trying to make sense

8 articles, 3 topics, and many disparate ideas in between. Should be easy to coherently piece together the relationship between creativity, knowledge, and strategy, right? I find it difficult to wade through academic articles like these, and I set out to simply reduce the information into a story told through a concept map. It took a few yards of butcher paper and sprawling scribbles, but I came up with a two-part story.

There are two distinct paths that were discussed in the readings, one of creativity and one of strategy. Their qualities remind me of your typical engineer and artist, each having something meaningful to say and show, but stuck in a routine and never able to bring them together successfully. These two paths will run on without intersecting, until a third factor appears – us.

The knowledge that we have gained from our experiences gives us perspective, which leads to a unique perception of the world around us and a framework in which to approach it. Combined with strategy and creativity, we are able to make lateral leaps to connect the dots on the two different paths and generate new ideas.

The new idea should be tested, re-drafting a hypothesis each time it goes through a cycle of finding a solution and recognizing another problem. The outcome of this iterated, actionable creativity based on our experience and knowledge is innovative design. It’s the type of design that gives us that magical moment, where we question why we didn’t think of it before. It’s the type of design that will allow us to make large strides in ill-structured problems, and take a bite out of the really wicked ones.

The message behind this exercise was a good reminder of how important it is to allow yourself to value your past experiences, that they are important and useful-regardless of whether they were sitting behind a desk or outside in the middle of the woods. I’ve had a hard time cutting across the track to the other path, so to speak, and perhaps if I trusted my past knowledge and sensemaking skills then those abductive leaps to innovative ideas would come a little bit easier.

Posted in Classes | Leave a comment

Do I really have to draw?

The answer was a yes, coming from Matt Franks and Lauren Serota in their Rapid Ideation and Prototyping class.  The idea of drawing is fairly scary to me, it’s never come easy, nor has it been something I’ve enjoyed to do. I remember in the first week of my masters program in architecture one of my fellow students asked if I wanted to spend the afternoon sketching by the river. I replied with a polite, “no,” but in my head I was thinking he was crazy. Really? Spend a whole afternoon sketching? Sounded terribly boring, I much rather go for a run by the river and take a mental picture, I could draw it up quickly in CAD later anyway.  I’ve avoided sketching like the plague since then.

Much to my dismay, I had to pick up a pencil and sharpie in this class – though my disdain for drawing slowly faded through the 8 weeks. I’m not sure where it happened along the way, but last week as I was doing work for another class I thought to myself, “this would be much easier to figure out if I could draw it.” As I was externalizing the problem, I caught myself and laughed, then smiled at the progress I have made. Perhaps I always have had designer-ly tendencies, but never had the tools to communicate them in a visual way before.

I have to thank Lauren and Matt for helping me to feel that I can call myself an interaction designer, because they gave me the tools to express myself as one. Not only do interaction designers facilitate the dialogue between a product, service, or system, but they are, in general, problem solvers. In this class, we each took a problem we had around the topic of food, found an opportunity to fix it, and create a web application as a result. The tools we used to solve this problem include use cases, scenarios, storyboards, process flows, wireframing, and prototyping.

The result of this process for myself is called Eat: Play, a web application for athletes that play hard and need good food to fuel their fun. This app helps find, review, and share crowd-sourced recipes that nutritionally prepare, sustain, and reward your body for a race or event. The athlete using the application can calculate nutritional needs, prepare race plans, and share recipes with friends.

I’ve posted two parts of the process we used on the path to creating a web app, wireframes and a clickable pdf. These don’t display the full functionality of the program, but focus on two different flows that a user might go through while using it – determining how many calories they need during the day of a marathon and browsing recipes to fulfill those needs. Start with the wireframes and follow the purple dots, it will give you a better idea of where you are supposed to be heading before you go through the clickable pdf.

<wireframes> <clickable pdf>

As I use the tools acquired in this class for future projects, I will be most cognizant of the rigor required to produce a cohesive product. It is important to put the work down, take a break, pick it up again, review, and revise; then repeat this process over and over again. And of equal importance in this process is the level of fidelity used in each step. Start at a low-fidelity so you can revise quickly and efficiently, which would have resulted in a more comprehensive wireframe package for myself in this case.

The last bit of advice? Pick up a pencil and don’t be afraid or ashamed of what comes of it, and do it often. I wasn’t afraid to draw when I was little, but only stopped when I became self conscious of what others would think. Instead of watching my niece and nephew color over Christmas, I think I’ll join them.  You should too.

Happy Holidays! Let it snow… (a lot, please)


Posted in Classes | Leave a comment

Fresh Finds hits the world wide web

A marketing kit for the Fresh Finds app was the next order of business for this week’s rapid ideation class. What’s in my kit? Social media campaigns with Twitter and Facebook, a Facebook ad, email newsletter template using Mail Chimp, and a landing page for downloading the app on a domain.

  1. Twitter
  2. Facebook
  3. Facebook ad preview
  4. Email newsletter template
  5. freshfindsapp.com (a work in progress)
Posted in Classes | Leave a comment