John Maeda | 2010 Gain Conference

John Maeda

In this current moment of economic uncertainty, we are all taking stock and once again turning to innovation as the silver bullet that will guide us forward. Yet in the eyes of many leaders, innovation seems tightly coupled with science, technology, engineering and math—the STEM subjects. Maeda posits that we need to add STEAM to STEM by adding art. Through an on-the-ground exploration at leading art and design college Rhode Island School of Design, Maeda argues that the critical thinking, critical making and creative leadership embodied in the arts and design can lead us to an enlightened form of innovation where art, design, technology and business meet. By way of this post-digital renaissance, Maeda envisions a world where a bit of our humanity will be restored.

John Maeda is a world-renowned artist, graphic designer, computer scientist and educator whose career reflects his philosophy of humanizing technology. For more than a decade, he has worked to integrate technology, education and the arts into a 21st century synthesis of creativity and innovation. Maeda became president of the Rhode Island School of Design in June 2008. At RISD, Maeda seeks to champion the necessary role that artists and designers play in the 21st century creative economy.

A former professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Maeda taught media arts and sciences there for 12 years and served as associate director of research at the MIT Media Lab. He has published four books, including his most recent,  The Laws of Simplicity. In 2008 Maeda was named one of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century by Esquire magazine and in 2010 was named an AIGA Medalist for his exceptional contribution to the field of design. A native of Seattle, Maeda earned bachelor's and master's degrees in computer science and electrical engineering from MIT, followed by a PhD in design science from the University of Tsukuba Institute of Art and Design in Japan and a MBA from Arizona State University.