MFA Interaction Design Chair Liz Danzico is going to be racking up a lot of Amtrak miles. At the beginning of the year, she took on another ambitious role as the first-ever creative director of NPR, which will keep her bouncing between her home (and the College) in New York City and NPR’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. SVA Close Up caught up with Danzico via email recently to find out more.
What attracted you to this opportunity and what are you most excited about in your new position at NPR?
As a lifetime listener to NPR, I couldn’t help but listen to the details of the NPR opportunity when I heard about it last fall. It’s pretty exciting to work with people and stories that make such a profound change. I’m lucky in that I get to talk with and work with all kinds of people all over the organization. And to be given the opportunity to help digital media consider what NPR looks like is completely overwhelming and completely thrilling at the same time. And that’s what makes it worth doing.
Is it daunting at all being NPR’s first-ever creative director?
NPR has a history of thoughtful attention to visual design, so while I may the first one with this title, there are many others thinking about its visual expression and digital possibilities. Award-winning teams have been designing digital products, apps, and new ways of telling stories already, and I’m just happy they let me join them.
How does the work you do outside the College inform what you do as chair of the MFA Interaction Design department, and vice versa?
It’s in the DNA of our program, and I believe, the College, to encourage learning by doing. That includes but is not limited to: taking courses while working for clients, working on projects that have a real place in the world, testing your ideas with users. Likewise, the faculty and I, as chair of the program, have a blending of academia and profession. There’s a blending of what’s happening in the field and what’s happening in the classroom that makes for pragmatic experiments. In the consulting work I was doing before, the work outside MFA Interaction Design has always informed what went on inside, and vice versa, and this unification of learning and doing will continue with NPR.
What do you listen to NPR on and what are your favorite shows?
I listen on my Tivoli radio at home primarily, and consistently. At work, online to WNYC via the website. Truth be told, there’s a radio in every room in my apartment, including one in the shower! (It was that way too in the house I grew up in.) I’ve just started using a product in development at NPR on my iPhone regularly, and can’t wait until it’s released publicly.
Last but not least: What will you be reading and/or listening to during your commutes to D.C.?
No question: the emergent sounds of Amtrak’s quiet car.