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People to Watch in 2012 BACK FORWARD

Photo: Jessica Farrell

dmitri siegel

global vice president for e-commerce, patagonia

As Global Vice President for E-commerce for Patagonia, Dmitri Siegel oversees all digital properties and online sales for the brand worldwide. He was previously Executive Director of Marketing for Urban Outfitters where he oversaw all aspects of Creative, Marketing, and E-commerce. Siegel has published widely on the topics of design and digital culture. He is a contributing writer for Design Observer and his writing has been featured in Dot Dot Dot, émigré, Creative Review, Utne Reader, Design Issues, and Adbusters. He recently published his first book, Green Patriot Posters: Images for a new Activism. Green Patriot Posters was featured in the 2010 Cooper Hewitt National Design Triennial and the exhibition Graphic Design: Now in Production at the Walker Art Center. Siegel’s work has been recognized by the AIGA, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, Promax/BDA, and the International Biennale of Graphic Design. He is currently a thesis critic for the Rhode Island School of Design graduate program in Graphic Design and has lectured at Maryland Institute College of Art, Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, USC, and University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Siegel earned his MFA in Graphic Design from Yale University.

Where were you born or grew up, where do you live, does this effect your design style or sensibility?
I was born in Ann Arbor MI where both of my parents were professors. The University setting had a huge influence on me. I take an academic approach to design (there’s way too much talking). That environment taught me you aren’t stuck with what you know today — learning is a lifelong project. Right now I live on a 300-acre nature preserve north of L.A. It’s an incredible setting — ten minutes from the mountains, ten minutes to the beach and the sun shines all the time. I lived in New York and Philadelphia for years, so I felt like it was time for a change. This place gives me the space to process the last two decades of inspiration.

If you were not a designer, what would you be doing for a living?

What is your greatest strength and weakness as a designer or design manager?
I do a good job of focusing my team on the most interesting or weird or unique aspect of a project. It’s more fun to try to do one big, dumb, bold thing well and get away with it, than to nibble on a bunch of ideas. It’s also easier to be collaborative when you have a clear creative objective to pair with a business objective. I have been successful at “selling” this approach — explaining why we made something the way we did and why it’s important. As for weaknesses, I’m the total package: I’m too accommodating, too stubborn, not detail-oriented enough on some things and a micro-manager on others. I can’t manage my calendar. I don’t answer my office phone, ever. The list goes on.

Design Heroes?
Rick Rubin, Dieter Rams, Yvon Chouinard, Daniel Eatock, Vaughan Oliver, Julius Shulman, Michael Bierut, Dr. Bronner
Favorite Color? Spot color.
Favorite Typeface?
That’s kind of a moment in time question, but I do love Belwe Bold right now.
Favorite App?
The one where you call people and live-chat.
Favorite TV Shows?
I don’t have a TV
Favorite Books?
Lipstick Traces, Let My People Go Surfing
Favorite Movies?
Man on Wire, The Sweet Smell of Success, Running on Empty, Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles, The Way Things Go, Style Wars
Favorite Music?
If Eddie Money and R. Kelly did a song together.
Favorite Fine Artists?
Richard Prince, Walter De Maria, Bruce Nauman, Charles Burchfield,
Favorite Gadget? Canon S95
Bookmarked Websites? kaweah.tumblr.com
Worst Habit? Worrying.
New Year’s Resolution?
Stop worrying so much.
One Thing You Can't Live Without? Food
Talent You Wished You Possessed?
The ability to grow hair on the top of my head.
Best Gift You Ever Received?
I got an amazing surfboard for Christmas this year. It was a total surprise and came in the mail.
Mantra or Saying You Live By?
Yes is the answer.