redesign | bio: Victor Marks

Who am I?

For the past 8 years, I’ve worked on consumer electronics. I’ve worked with amazing people who are passionate about well-designed products. Success for me is careful attention paid to each part of the business touched by the consumer and clear communication of that care.

Victor Marks
Why I decided to join redesign | mobile
I decided to join redesign | mobile because each time you improve a product or experience, you make the world better in some small way. I’m also interested in making the world better in bigger ways. I focus on accessibility and advocate designs which consider the wide range of people’s abilities people. I’ve learned a lot from my daughter, who has autism, by understanding how she approaches the world.

My contribution to the redesign | mobile office

At Cal Academy of Sciences, we each picked an item for the new office. I chose a white ceramic vase with an epiphyte, or air plant, because it’s nice to look at and doesn’t have a high imposition on the owner–it takes up very little space, and needs very little attention. I liked it so much that I also bought one for my home office. This way, even when working remotely, I always have a little bit of the redesign | mobile office with me.

One of my favorite books

The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida.

The reasons are pretty clear: A vast array of conditions are categorized as autism—it’s a spectrum disorder—but Naoki’s is similar to my daughter’s. With my daughter, complex conversations are impossible, but communication through typing is not. Talking can be challenging, but she regularly texts me.  Some time ago, I placed an old iMac in her room to see what she would discover about her own ability to communicate, and we found she loves writing short stories. By finding the proper avenue for communication, you peel away the stigma and are left with the person—although a person trying to deal with a barrage of sensory overload, and living in a world where, sadly, it is often acceptable to excuse poor behavior or errors with, “that’s just my autism” or use it as a shorthand for “retarded.”  While much of Naoki’s philosophy and lessons are ones I’ve learned on my own, his book is a tremendous platform, offering all readers much to consider about how people with autism can see and contribute to the world given the proper tools.  Although as the saying goes in the autism community, “if you’ve met one person with autism… you’ve met just one person with autism.” Every single person experiences it differently, and the toolbox is always evolving.

My other new favorite book is Screw Business as Usual by Richard Branson. This book resonates with me because Branson champions the idea of capitalism—not just charity—as an engine for social change. Branson recounts many examples of businesses helping communities, whether it’s Virgin’s retail banking arm offering its transaction infrastructure to the London Marathon so that fees against credit card donations could be reduced from 6% to 2%, or Branson making a micro-loan to a woman in South Africa to buy a sewing machine, and who ended up employing six people and repaying the loan in three months. The bigger idea is that charity, money on its own, doesn’t go nearly as far as enabling people to go into business for themselves, whether it’s the startup capital to the seamstress, or Port Phillip Prison inmates who founded a company producing t-shirts while learning how to manage a business. Capitalism as a force for positive change in the world is real, and something I’d like to be a part of.

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