Genessa Krasnow spent several years at Microsoft as a creative strategist, building prototypes to illustrate the future of technology.
Focused on the living space, Krasnow produced pioneering work in HDTV, built early mobile technology as well as automated home and interactive TV prototypes for executive keynotes and trade shows, and she received multiple patents for innovative user experiences.
As a “cultural designer,” Krasnow — GeekWire’s latest Geek of the Week — now runs her own business where she makes physical spaces more beautiful and connected for the people who inhabit them.
She’s also got her hand in a new card game called “Civics in Chaos” that taps into her activist nature. The first offering in the suite of games is “Trumped,” and a Kickstarter for the project has raised more than $13,000 with a week to go.
“Civics in Chaos” was inspired by the political illustrations of Seattle artist Ed Fotheringhamhe New Yorker, The New York Times, Washington Post, Politico), who began posting Trump cartoons to Instagram not long after the election. Ron Morris, owner of Seattle-based design agency BLAMO, used that artwork as a jumping off point and harnessed Krasnow’s political savvy to bring a real civics lesson to the fun.
Krasnow launched her career in the music industry but “realized quickly that I didn’t have the stomach for that world.”
“In the trades, I would read about multimedia every two months or so,” she said. “Curious about this new world, I joined the Telecommunications Program at Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, before the internet had an interface. I built physical interactive installations and was a beta tester for the Mosaic browser, which became Netscape and launched our world wide web extravaganza.”
After Microsoft, she moved on to build interactive installations for Washington Mutual and Jones Soda. She wound up directing 13 events with the Dalai Lama and produced a 2008 benefit concert featuring Dave Matthews and Death Cab for Cutie.
Krasnow, who says in the questionnaire below that she would use a time machine to reverse President Trump’s victory, is committed to women’s and LGBTQ rights, runs a daily resistance blog, is inspired by art and design and is obsessed with NFL football.
Learn more about this week’s Geek of the Week, Genessa Krasnow:
What do you do, and why do you do it? “My wife and I operate the Cultural Design company Revel Wolf Collective, where we create well cultures through physical space design and experiential branded art pieces. A well culture is a connected culture of inspired people that work and live collaboratively, productivity and most importantly, joyfully.
“We believe in connection. We believe in love. We believe in living on-purpose. We believe each person is here to be in their purpose. And we are here to facilitate those meaningful and possible connections.”
What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? “Design matters. It shapes everything we experience. We build cultural and soulful connection through purposeful design.”
Where do you find your inspiration? “My early inspirations were Hands Across America, LiveAID, and the US Festival. These were the beginnings of people coming together through music to make a difference. As an extrovert, I am energized by people. People who are bold and courageous, people who live authentically and atypically. I read quite a bit and I’m moved by those who can fearlessly articulate what they believe in and who they are.”
What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? “Any type of phone. It doesn’t need to be smart. Just needs to connect me to other people.”
What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? “As Cultural Designers, we are either emerged in the spaces we design (like Ivy Softworks as seen in the photo above — where we designed the Swingerators to give their engineers a place to kinetically think), in our workshop covered in sawdust, or in the salvage and wood yards looking for the next great find. And, always by our side are our sweet labs, Ben and Shane.”
Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.) “Move your body!!!!!!!”
Mac, Windows or Linux? “Mac. When Microsoft recruited me I had never used a PC and since I’ve left in 2002, I have only used Mac. A computer that smiles when starting up? C’mon, genius.”
Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? “Georgia O’Keefe. Rosa Parks. Margaret Sanger.”
Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? “Time Machine. Super curious about who Jesus was. Would love to have been part of the Civil Rights Movement. And mostly to reverse the 2016 election.”
If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … “I would design a utopian village within cities, where instead of gentrifying communities, we would design opportunities for the members of that community. Live where you work opportunities. Day care and schooling for children. Rent to own housing. Communal gardens. Communal dining. Physical activities. We would build inner city thriving and prosperous communities. Economic opportunities for all.”
I once waited in line for … “While I didn’t wait in line, I waited around to meet Hillary Clinton in 2000. A friend and I were walking along Lake Washington and noticed a bunch of Secret Service standing outside a house. For some reason I asked them if Hillary Clinton was in the house. They said, yes, and I asked if we could meet her. They told us to hang out until the fundraiser was over. We hung out in the Seattle mist, chatting with neighbors and trying to talk an older woman out of voting for Ralph Nader. When Hillary finally came out, we gave her a very damp hug and had a very joyous and inspiring moment.”
Your role models: In one word …
- Bob Geldof – GIVING. He created a musical extravaganza of empathy and giving with LiveAID.
- John Lennon – PEACE. John helped us imagine peace. Imagine if he would have lived, the justice he’d be fighting for would be astounding.
- The Stonewall Rioters – JUSTICE. These LGBTQ people, or famously known as the dykes and the drag queens, grew sick of the humiliation of being arrested because they were queer. On June 27, 1969, they fought back when the paddy wagons came to round them up. They rioted in the streets for days and launched the Gay Rights Movement. The next year was the first Gay Pride Parade commemorating the Stonewall Riots.
- Gloria Steinem – VOICE. She gave voice to the Feminist movement and gave women a platform to speak up, speak out and rise up.
- Georgia O’Keefe – FREEDOM. She gave herself permission to be fully who she was. Travelled across country to Santa Fe, away from her husband and family, during a time when women didn’t do that, to make art. She lived on her own terms.
- Lidia Yuknavitch – TRUTH. She is a stunning kickass author, uber misfit and survivor. She is innovating the publishing world and the way we tell and share stories.
- Hillary Clinton – STRENGTH. Is the most vilified women in history and yet, she keeps standing. Hillary has committed her life to public service, to helping children and to doing all the good she can do, for all the people she can, for however long she can.
- Lauren Duca. FIERCE. She is a feminist writer at Teen Vogue. If you need to know why she’s so righteous, watch this.
Greatest game in history: “Civics in Chaos!”
Best gadget ever: “Loopy. It’s the greatest phone case in the universe, changed my life.”
First computer: “Macintosh, 1984.”
Current phone: “iPhone 6. Cumbersome and I’m certain they kill the battery at two years so I’ll upgrade.”
Favorite app: “I have to admit, I’m football obsessed so spend significant amount of time on the NFL app. It’s not a great or even a good app, it simply meets my needs as a football junkie.”
Favorite cause: “There are so many worthy causes. I’m deeply committed to supporting the ACLU, as they are on the front lines of preserving our democracy. I support multiple women’s and LGBTQ organizations: Planned Parenthood, LGBTQ Task Force, Trevor Project. Emerge America is simply awesome. Training women on how to run for office with an over 70 percent success rate in winning elections. I’m inspired by the Low Income Housing Institute who are providing tiny houses for homeless people. And believe until we have campaign finance reform, it will be never resolve our current political climate. We must take money out of the politics.”
Most important technology of 2016: “The Indivisible Guide which taught us the tools of activating and creating citizen powered civic change.”
Most important technology of 2018: “The resistance. While not technically a technology, technology will continue playing a role in aiding a false narrative and those on the front line of the resistance will continue holding those accountable and with our unifying voices, we won’t be fooled again.”
Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: “My advice is to be kind. To be thoughtful. To be open. To look up from our devices and make a human connection. To stop connecting through social media and start connecting with each other, face-to-face, in conversation, with an open heart and mind. This is vital to our health, our spirit and humanity.”
LinkedIn: Genessa Krasnow