Judging an international design competition is no easy task. It takes a special kind of person that is willing to give their time and experience for the betterment of the industry.

It's time to shine a spotlight on these special individuals and dig a little deeper to see what makes them tick. Therefore, on behalf of the CSSDA founders and crew, please enjoy the following interview with one of our esteemed judging panel members.


Peter Kang is a co-founder and Principal at Barrel, an interactive design agency in New York City. Barrel has been around since 2006 and their clients include KIND Snacks, NETGEAR, Columbia University, and various emerging brands in the healthy lifestyle space. Peter oversees UX and Design at the company.

Time Warp:

1. When and what was your first ever computer? Can you remember the spec?

My first computer was an Intel PC, a 386 processor on 4MB of RAM and 80MB of hard drive disk space. I had MS-DOS and Windows 3.1 installed. My dad gave it to me after I finished 2nd grade, which was 1991.

2. When and what was the first website you were involved in designing/developing? Which elements of the project did you do? Can you remember the 'cutting edge' tech used at the time? How did the site turn out and what did this experience teach you?

I built various websites starting the summer before 7th grade, which was in 1995. The first major website that I created was in 1997, when I launched an online magazine for teens. I created the page layout using tables in HTML and scanned hand-drawn illustrations by my friends to accompany the written articles. I thought the site turned out beautifully, and it was starting to grow in traffic. Unfortunately, I had a bad grade in Geometry class, so my parents made me shut down the website.

3. Which project has been most rewarding for you over the course of your career and why?

This might sound like a cop-out answer, but to me it's unmistakably clear: the project of building Barrel as a business — putting together the team, attracting clients, delivering quality work, mentoring/training employees, and getting better as an organization has been the most rewarding project and one that I hope to continue for the foreseeable future.

4. What career advice would you give to yourself if you could send a 'temporal text' 5 - 10 years into the past?

Be kind and patient to everyone around you, no matter how stressful it gets.

5. Better still, if you had your own hot tub time machine, what time period would you travel to and why?

I'd love a glimpse of the future, even a few weeks from now. The past, I'd rather let it be and not have to revisit or redo except as lessons learned.

Favourite Things:

1. What are your favourite aspects about working in design?

I love the process of learning about the problem, the audience, and the client or customer's goals, and then collaboratively exploring, creating, and iterating to achieve results. There are so many moving parts, and there's always some part of the process that can be improved upon the next time around.

2. What are your favourite design tools, sites, fonts and resources right now?

Our team loves using Sketch to do our designs. I've pushed our clients to adopt Sketch as well. Invision is also an essential tool for presenting our designs. I like checking out Khoi Vinh's blog every couple of weeks to see what he's written and have been enjoying his reviews of design tools.

3. What are your favorite devices right now from mobile to desktop?

My iPhone 6 Plus is great, and I love taking pictures with it. My MacBook Air from 2011 is on its last legs, so I'm looking forward to a MacBook Pro upgrade very soon. I have an iPad Mini that is solely used for playing Kingdom Rush.

4. Which 3 cities would be your favorite to open an office in and why?

Los Angeles: I've always enjoyed being there, especially by Santa Monica/Venice; I also think businesses in LA align with our healthy lifestyle focus. Atlanta: this is a long shot, but my parents live there so I'd love any excuse to see them more often; I've come to like the city over the years and think there's lots of growth happening there. Seoul: we currently don't do much work with clients in Asia, but I feel like at some point in my career, I would like to have more dealings with Korea/Korean brands, and it'll force me to brush up on my Korean speaking skills.

5. What is your favorite activity outside of work?

I love to exercise, whether it's hitting the gym, playing basketball, or going for a run. I would also count walking my dog under that category since that gets me off my butt a few time a day.

Life Hacks:

1. How do you stay motivated?

Day-to-day and week-to-week, I stay motivated by setting mini goals for myself and prioritizing my tasks. Quarterly, I get motivation by meeting with our executive team and laying out our goals and initiatives for the upcoming three months. And every now and then, usually once or twice a year, I reflect on the overall purpose of my activities and ask myself why I'm doing the things I'm doing with my life. Having a good understanding of the purpose can be a powerful motivator.

2. Do you have a good life/work balance? Could it be improved? If so how?

I think I do. It's something I've worked on over the years. Sure, it can always be improved. I think I can alway work on being more present when in the presence of family and friends rather than thinking about work.

3. Do you have any career advice for young designers and developers?

Embrace discipline and get the fundamentals down pat, especially if you want to go deeper into the craft. This means learning to be very organized, documenting things meticulously, and understanding why something works rather than just the how. I think being able to sound smart and come up with great ideas is important, but trying to get by on those qualities without the discipline and fundamentals to execute at a high level can hurt you in the long run.

4. How do you keep up with the latest trends & tech?

I subscribe to various newsletters like Sidebar.io or Benedict Evan's newsletter. I'll also check out Hacker News and Designer News every now and then. I also get exposed to a lot of cool stuff whenever I talk to our team.

5. If money was abolished and nobody needed to work anymore, what would you do with your life?

Try to grow a garden and maybe build a house.

Versus: In your opinion...

1. Are great designers born Vs. made by experience?

Made by experience.

2. Is the best long term goal to be a founder Vs. freelance Vs. full­time job?

Depends on the person. For me, being a founder has been personally rewarding.

3. iPhone 6s vs Samsung S6 vs other?

Personally, iPhones in general.

4. Printed book vs eBook?


5. Star Trek vs Star Wars?

Star Wars.