Stimulant: Smart People Designing Smart Spaces

Silicon Valley provides the perfect setting for detailed sessions on UX and Interaction Design at HOW Interactive Design Conference 2015. You’ll take home a solid foundation in UX principles and Interaction Design, as well as actionable advice you can use to solve design problems as soon as you get back to work.

stimulant-interactive-environment5The Firm: Stimulant, San Francisco, CA

Principals: Darren David, CEO; Nathan Moody, design director; Josh Santangelo, technical director.

Total Staff: 16

Founded: 2007

Notable Clients: Genentech, Google, Intel, Microsoft, GlaxoSmithKline, Samsung, Seattle Space Needle, Coca-Cola, National Geographic, General Motors

Smart phones. Smart TVs. Smart watches. Smart spaces?

That’s not a typo. With technology becoming more and more integrated into our everyday lives, the desire (need?) for interactive environments is rational if not anticipated and pragmatic.

San Francisco–based smart space design firm Stimulant has been taking advantage of this growing need for about eight years. Their motto? “We create smart spaces.” Having already completed work for names like Google, Intel, Samsung and more, it’s safe to say that Stimulant has the right idea for the next big steps in technology integration.

“Our work sits at the intersection of technology, experience and architecture,” says Nathan Moody, Stimulant’s design director. Their website describes what they do as “[using] emerging technologies to transform static physical spaces into dynamic interactive environments.” A quick look at their completed works only helps showcase the team’s philosophy.

Stimulant works to “develop relationships with amazing people,” and “build future-forward research and trend watching into [their] company culture and daily practices.” From the Space Needle Interactives, where visitors can experience Microsoft Photosynth walkthroughs of some of Seattle’s “off limits” attractions and “locals-only” landmarks, to a “touch-first, multi-user version of Bing” that allows for multi-person collaborative searching on Samsung’s SUR40, Stimulant is definitely designing that which has never been done before.


Stimulant hopes their firm can “bridge the functional divide between built structures and digital technologies, and the perceived divide of the immutability of architecture and the transience of technological innovation.” They love taking on new assignments, believing the project at hand is always the most challenging. “Each challenge is different, and we don’t want to repeat ourselves,” says Moody, who explains that the firm’s best work is usually born from the tightest constraints.




The creatives at Stimulant say they are thankful for their success and proud of what they have achieved, but it is their “restless imaginations” that keep them moving forward in hopes of “[exploring] new and better ways of using technology [to connect] people to ideas, brands and each other.”

Who knows, maybe someday Stimulant will be behind the development of smart space schools—seamlessly integrating technology and collaboration into the day-to-day lives of students. “Once structures and spaces are given senses and [are] aware of their own state and of objects within them,” the possibilities are endless, and “that’s exactly the kind of future [Stimulant] hopes to shape.”


Technology and Design: 3 Case Studies

by Patrick McNeil

Find out how designing with technology in mind can result in your best design yet. Designer and developer Patrick McNeil traces three powerful design trends back to their technical roots to give you a better understanding of how and why designers are working with them—and how embracing technology can help you create innovative, impactful design.