What started as a personal collection of “cool” now tickles the fancies of over two million design enthusiasts each month. We catch up with Cool Hunting’s Josh Rubin and Evan Orensten, coveters of all things hot and happening in design, technology, style, travel, art and culture.
So how did you guys meet, and start sharing creative juices?
We were introduced by a mutual friend in 1999 when Evan was working at Razorfish and Josh was finishing graduate school and looking for a job. Josh took a job at IDEO and we started dating. A few months later Josh moved over to Razorfish. While we didn’t work together directly, we were steeped in the same world.
What made you want to launch your online publication, Cool Hunting, profiling all things cool?
In February of 2003 Josh was helping to build a User Experience Design team at Motorola and started Cool Hunting as a nights-and-weekends project to database the things he found inspiring. It wasn’t meant to be a business, and was [only] public facing in the spirit of sharing. In a relatively short amount of time the site became popular and we decided to turn it in to a business together.
As partners in life and business, do you draw a line between work and play?
What’s the overused quip? “If you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life.” That holds true for us in many ways, but there is still a business to run and it can be burdensome sometimes. We have a rule to not talk about work over dinner. And though we travel a lot anyway, we make it a point to take one or two trips a year that are just for us and not for Cool Hunting stories. Inevitably, though, we still find stories for Cool Hunting on those trips, too.
Cool Hunting has been around since 2003, and has no doubt seen a lot of change. Do similar trends tend to emerge across tech, style, art and design?
The rate of change and nature of disruption do have similar patterns across the categories that we cover. And we connect the dots between these categories to identify overarching trends. That said, Cool Hunting is not about reporting on trends. We simply look for stories of creativity and innovation and share them with our audience.
When it comes to innovative products, what kinds of things catch your eye?
We love nerds. When a product or artwork or place or technology is created through a smart, dedicated, rigorous (even OCD) process we’re usually happy with the results.
With correspondents sending you content from all over the world, we’ve got to know, which city or country is pumping out the coolest things right now?
Well Starbucks just launched the Flat White globally and we all know where that came from! London design students, Japanese artisans and NYC bartenders all get our attention.
We’ll bet your inbox is bulging, but do you still ‘hunt’ for content? And if so, where do you look?
We do still hunt. It’s the joy of the whole gig. We span a wide range of sources: trade shows, art fairs, friends, students, labs, eclectic retailers and more.
Josh and Evan are speaking at Vivid Ideas 2015. Find more event information here.