In her role as Executive Director of Product Innovation at Huge, Sophie Kleber works to create future forward user experiences that make the complex simple. While at Huge, she has shaped user research, innovation strategy, product definition and design for some of the largest companies in the world, including IKEA, Under Armour and Goldman Sachs. Her passion for bringing information to life has made her a pioneer in designing with data at the intersection of digital and physical experiences.
Sophie is a thought leader in the future of design and how organizations can move from talking about “what’s possible” to creating “what should be." She has written on behalf of TED, taught at Google in London, and spoke at the Cannes Lions Innovation Festival, SXSW and other conferences
Sophie holds degrees in industrial design from Universität der Künste in Berlin and communication design from the University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam. She was a Fulbright scholar to Parsons School of Design in New York, where she’s also taught.
What was your very first job?
My first job was interning with my mom starting at age 7. My mom is a stage and costume designer, and I’d help out doing odd jobs - gluing feathers on a goose costume, helping to build models for the set designs, and later, silk painting human size butterfly wings. I love the theater workshops and the pristine craftsmanship that goes on behind the scenes.
Please describe, in your own words, what your job is and what work it entails.
We sit at the forefront of digital, and my responsibility is to define how people interact with new technology in a meaningful and enriching way. I need to listen to human needs very carefully, and then create solutions that add value to their lives, are easy to use, beautiful and work extremely hard, so people don’t have to.
How and when did you discover that the creative world was right for you? Tell us how you got to where you are today.
I am your typical art child. My mother signed me up for university classes to learn classical drawing and painting techniques at age 12. I went on to study graphic and product design in Berlin, but it was only during my Fulbright year at Parsons in NYC that I discovered interaction design. My brain blew up when I realized I could make the world not only prettier, but maybe even better!
In your constantly growing and expanding industry, how do you find inspiration to keep your work fresh, innovative and relevant?
Human ambition is my gospel, technology and science are my biggest inspirations. I always think about how technology can solve true human needs, and how it can help us live the life we want to live. The fact that we are not there yet, but instead find ourselves in this massive experiment of facebook, alert anxiety, information overload, etc. is my biggest motivation to keep going, and to make intelligent decisions that bring us back to technology serving human ambition, and not humans serving technology.
If you had to pick one piece of work or project that you are most proud of, more for the creative work and innovation it required, rather than its recognition or industry “success,” what would it be?
I’m in the business of “First”. Back in the day, we advised JetBlue to be the first airline to put a booker on the home page. We developed the first global e-commerce site with IKEA. We partnered with HBO to bring HBO Go to life, which became the standard for Direct to Consumer online viewing. The list goes on, and my biggest success is always finding that next “first” that revolutionizes our everyday lives.