On Social Architecture: Democracy, Design, and New Networks with CED Alumnus Eric McDougall
Social interactions are our sustenance, yet increasingly we face a well-documented, widespread, and growing crisis of loneliness and anxiety in society and among people of all strata. Physical space and software, especially where they intersect, play a significant and disruptive role in shaping our experiences for better or worse. Eric McDougall has adopted the term 'social architecture' to describe a practice that seeks to provoke dialogue and action to forge connections and drive design strategies that serve to bring people face to face and closer together.
Eric McDougall has represented the Bay Area spirit since his time as an undergrad at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design. Not one to be pinned down, Eric’s curiosity led him to take class across departments and fields and he quickly became involved with the vibrant arts scene on campus. He played drums with the UC Berkeley Jazz Ensemble and worked his way up to Talent Director of the UC Berkeley Jazz Festival. He also found the time to fill the student staff position at the Greek Theater. (Maybe he will tell you all about the craziness that ensued backstage when the Grateful Dead played!)
Unsurprisingly, Eric has kept those deep ties to UC Berkeley and the arts alive. For 14 years, he served on the board of BAMPFA. Just as unsurprising is that Eric’s career has been as varied and exciting as his time at UC Berkeley: his first job was in the music industry designing shows and serving as a creative director for dozens of global music tours for major artists, he later started his own creative marketing company, McDougall, and he served as Minister of Cool at Zynga where he took a deep dive into social games, virality, digital advertising, and data-driven everything.
These days, Eric leads Blank Ink, a design and branding agency in San Francisco, where he works with CEOs and entrepreneurs on large projects that cut across change, brand, design, and culture. He also co-founded Disorient, a long-running Burning Man camp, and is an avid surfer who chases swell all around the world.