To create a pinboard is to say to the world, Here are the beautiful things that make me who I am—or who I want to be. Young women use Pinterest to plan their weddings, men collect watches and bikes into de facto gift registries, and couples assemble furniture sets for their new homes. Pictures of attractive men and women in various states of undress abound. The sum of each user’s choices is displayed in an ever-changing pastiche on each person’s home page. “When you open up Pinterest,” Silbermann says, distilling his vision, “you should feel like you’ve walked into a building full of stuff that only you are interested in. Everything should feel handpicked for you.” In other words, it’s a store in which every single product has been tailored to your needs, ambitions, and desires.
Artist Eric Daigh used exactly 22,765 pushpins to create a portrait of Pinterest founder Ben Silbermann for a feature in Fast Company’s 2012 Design Issue. Co.Design interviewed Eric Daigh to learn more about his creative process.
Now, Daigh has his pushpin mosaics down to a science. He photographs his own portrait, runs it through a software conversion process that creates (red, yellow, blue, black, and white) dots and then he examines it at the pixel level for algorithmic abnormalities, which he’s gotten very, very good at spotting. Whereas the human eye will want a shadow to contain a smooth gradient of color—maybe blue to black—computers tend to render these blocks out into distracting patterns that need to be hand-smoothed.
Meet Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann, the subject of Fast Company’s October cover story.
For a guy running such a beautiful website, Ben Silbermann looks like hell: He has prominent bags under tired, watery eyes; his shoulders hang heavy; his shirt is wrinkled; and his dark hair is uncombed. When he speaks—with the open-vowel inflections of his Iowa upbringing—his voice is so slight that it often gets lost beneath the din of other conversations. When he moves, it is with the economy of a marathon runner trying to conserve every last bit of energy on the eve of a big race.
“I’m tired,” says the 30-year-old CEO of Pinterest, the social scrapbook that’s the hottest website on the planet, as he prepares to shovel down a bowl of noodles a few feet away from his desk. Silbermann leaves for the office at 7 a.m. most mornings and works nonstop until dinner. His only respite, if you can call it that, comes in the predawn hours when he takes his newborn son, Max, into his arms and fires up his laptop to check email. Just a few weeks before Max was born in early July, Silbermann declared a companywide lockdown, ordering his 35 employees to come early and stay late in order to build new iPad and Android applications. The goal: to stoke growth. He ordered commemorative T-shirts with the phrase summer of apps printed across the chest, and he cut off almost all contact with anyone outside the company, including potential business partners.
In our upcoming October design issue, one of the many fascinating feature stories we’ve lined up is a lengthy profile of Pinterest and its elusive CEO, Ben Silbermann. That story goes live later this week, but until then, here’s a teaser, in the form of an infographic about Pinterest, created by Fast Company’s staff and designed by our own Ted Keller.
In this profusion of figures, you find out a few key things about the image-sharing service. For one, it’s dominated by women. Second, something about its layout and culture stokes an enormous buying impulse. And third, major brands are getting in on the act. It’s not a stretch to say that soon, at least on retail sites, a Pinterest button might become as ubiquitous as a Facebook Like. Check out the full infographic via the link below.
Collections can be open to everyone, or closed to only a few authors. “Lots of services have successfully lowered the bar for sharing information, but there’s been less progress toward raising the quality of what’s produced,” Williams writes in a blog post introducing the service. Yet he also says that Medium is built so that lots of people can easily contribute, and it’s unclear what kind of controls the curator of each section has over what appears in their collection.
They’re hot now but do mash-up apps have a future? We talk with Brandon Leonardo, cofounder of the Pinterest/ Instagram combo Pinstagram, to find out. We also pitch him a few of our ideas, including “Shazump,” “Spotifurious,” and “Angry Fruit Ninjas.” Let the investment cash flow!
While there’s nothing wrong with simply sharpening your eye and taste by clicking the “Pin It” bookmarklet—we all need a break sometimes—Pinterest can also be used in productive, focused ways. It’s all about having an end goal in mind when you create those pinboards. So if you want to harness Pinterest’s strengths and habit-forming powers, try these exercises.
Pinterest users not only buy the products they pin, but spend more on average than their Facebook counterparts, according to new data from Shopify.
At 17, Sahil Lavingia helped design Pinterest. Then, a year in, Lavingia left. Now he’s starting Gumroad, a new service which he says will revolutionize social shopping and e-commerce—and maybe even alter the way people create. Here’s how it works: Say you’ve made something—a song, a blog post, an app, etc.—and you want to make a little money from it. Just upload it, price it, then Gumroad, whose slogan is, “Sell anything you can share,” provides you with a custom product URL that is easily shareable across your existing social networks. Gumroad makes money by taking a 5% cut out of each purchase.
Everplaces is a new app that essentially functions as a Pinterest for the real world. It lets you capture and store places in the physical world that you want to keep track of, whether that’s a swank bistro in your hometown or a boutique in Buenas Aires that always has the best cutting-edge fashions.
Sometime soon, Pinterest will expand the number of things users can pin, including videos from Hulu, Vimeo, and Netflix. “Driving traffic out is really fundamental for us,” he said. “The mission of Pinterest is not to keep people on the site forever. It’s to get people out and to find those objects.”
Design shouldn’t be designated a specific function or industry. The discipline is just as fundamental as technology and profit are to a business that it doesn’t need to be isolated to a single role. It should be considered part of every role.
“In an ironic way, Long says, this frees many people to be more public about who they really are and who they want to be, because it’s less focused on the kind of personal content that sets off privacy and security alarms. “Pinterest is a place where we can demonstrate: ‘If it weren’t for all those mundane things that I do that I post on Facebook, this is what I would be doing and consuming. Here is my real self,’” he explains.”