Steve Turbek

A designer focused on beautiful solutions to complex problems. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Artforum, Wired, Web Techniques,, SFMOMA, & Eyebeam.

steve (at) LinkedIn @SteveTurbek

A museum exhibit to introduce students to Mechanical Engineering using motorized physical models. A connected website explains how they work and where they appear using videos, and 3D models. The cabinets are designed to travel to schools and museums to support STEM education.

More at

Mechanical Library

A poster-sized calendar with a bubble to pop every day! (Now discontinued, was sold through MOMA, Uncommon Goods, & Amazon).

More at

Bubble Calendar

Using leftover flooring to make hexagons tables.

Hex Flooring Table

Reclaimed American Mahogony with Japanese-inspired joinery. Seat plates angle inward for comfort.

Live Edge Bench

Felt is soft, but surprisingly stiff when folded! Tied with string, this is a functional stool weighing just 8 pounds.

All-felt stool

A 2D metal curve repeated in three dimensions defines a form with interesting positive and negative spaces. Paint color came from a happy accident at the paint shop.

"Tractor Green" Table

A table for the classic 80's arcade games that fits into a stylish living room. The joysticks fold under the screen of the mirrored glass.

Classic Arcade Table

This coffee table system can make tables with leg patterns composed from 3 to 10 legs.

Re-Pete Coffee Table

Dark Magic in User-Interface Design

Magic is powerful, but it also has a dark side. Could today's trend toward magical user experiences like gestures and voice spell doom for users?

3 Dec 2018
Make the Commercial First

Designers unique skill set can go beyond designing the UI of an existing product idea. Their tools and techniques can be adapted to define the product itself though early testing.

14 Apr 2017
3 Kinds of Simplicity

Remote controls are a great way to engage non-designers. These three examples show the difference between Engineering simplicity, Conceptual simplicity, and Aesthetic simplicity.

10 Mar 2017

The 2018 Apple TV remote has many design flaws, including not being obvious which way to hold it and being hard to pick up. This prototype grip clips onto the remote, givinga clear front and back and raising it off the surface.
3D printing file is free to download

Apple TV Remote grip

#237 The location of a trapezoid

Submission to, the Sol LeWitt tribute in code.

10 Mar 2017
#238 The location of a parallelogram

Submission to, the Sol LeWitt tribute in code.

10 Mar 2017

Inspired by a cyclist friend who wears white jeans, this prototype chain guard for single speed bikes keeps your pants clean. The pattern of circles enables the atachment brackets to fit any sprocket.

"White Knight"

Unleash Your Visual Superpower!

How enterprise designers can use their special abilities to shape product strategy

17 Nov 2015
Plateaus are Harder Than Mountains

How can design help real people use data in their lives?

16 Dec 2014
Sketch for a blob game

Experiment to generate amoeba like creatures using bezier curves in javascript / HTML canvas

27 Dec 2014
Invisible Maze game

A fun little puzzle iPhone game.

Formerly an iPhone app, it now works in Safari / Chrome. For desktop, use the arrow keys to steer.
Notes about the development of the Invisible Maze game

7 march 2014
Building the In-house Design Agency

Getting the best of both worlds

19 Dec 2013
Soldiers & Hessians, Ronin & Ninja

UX team organization can make or break a company's design strategy

26 Nov 2013
Are Design Patterns an Anti-pattern?

In a world of limited resources, code beats pictures. (published at

16 Jan 2012
Testing Charts via a game

How good are you at reading charts? Which chart is the best? I created a small game to test chart skills and get some hard numbers on how well each chart works, including styles. Everyone says that pie charts are bad. But how bad? Let's find out.

18 January 2012
Usability, User Experience, and Coffee

When Bad Usability is Good User Experience

04 January 2012
New York City Marathon Data Vizualization

Having run a couple of marathons, I designed and coded some interactive charts to analyze the New York Marathon overall runner population and look up an individual runner.

21 November 2011
Are your users S.T.U.P.I.D.?

There are no dumb users, but people are not just users.

20 April 2011
When can I reach you?

by Ben Kleinman, Stephen Turbek
Timezone dataviz to highlight the best times to call global offices


Conferencing tables designed for the Razorfish conference rooms. With rollerblade wheel feet, they are easily reconfigured into multiple shapes. An aircraft fuel tank stopper can be opened to run laptop cables neatly through the leg.

Conference Table

(Shown at Art Bots 2003) Happy Feet is an installation of 5 pairs of elegant footwear. Each shoe is mechanically articulated, enabling it to tap. The shoes are then free to dance, to create chorus line patterns, to interact with the audience. When unattended, the articulated shoes to tap rhythms. When a person steps on the foot pads, the shoes copy their steps.

"Happy Feet"

Inspired by occasional large dinner parties with friends, this flat pack bench that could be assembled without tools. The sitter's weight locks the wooden rods in place.

Flat Pack Bench

Non-parallel metal tubes keep the shelves in place without screws. The organic forms were derived from the stresses on the supports.

Fastener-less Shelving

An organic-form chair from carved layers of sheet plywood. Seat hollowed out for comfort.

Carved Plywood Chair

Custom designed and built, the curved plywood front dramatically swings open to show contents.

Curved Plywood Bar

A traditional Shaker sideboard-table updated with organic forms.

Folding Table

Springy and strong, the plywood forms can be used for home or public seating. The single repeated element can create concave or convex curves by altering the spacing of the aluminum connectors.

Molded Plywood Bench

Prototype of injection molded frame over aluminum core, with neoprene cuff, adjustable along molded ribs.

Cane Concept

The amusing evocative shape also served a purpose - the goose neck top delivers a measured dose.

Pepto Bismol Bottle

Competition-winning entry for Pratt Architecture student mailboxes. Hand made polypropolene.

Pratt Student Mailboxes

Designed and built in the summer of 1992-3, this structure combines traditional timberframe joints with unusual geometry.

Timberframe Pavilion


A little formal fiction fun.

Better charts from simple questions

Selecting the wrong chart, like bad chart design, can obscure the data. Here is a simple model pick the right chart for your needs.

9 June 2009
Sign on, Login: Better Practices for Logins and Registration

To an expert user, it is easy to forget the obstacle that registration and login pose to many users. Here are a few tips that can make the process easier.

August 2009
How to make personas useful

Personas are a popular user experience deliverable, whose purpose and use are often misunderstood. This article suggests ways to make personas useful, and not just a pretty face.

1 March 2008
Advancing Advanced Search

Advanced search is the ugly child of interface design -always included, but never loved. Websites have come to depend on their search engines as the volume of content has increased. A progressive disclosure approach can enable users to use precision advanced search techniques to refine their searches and pinpoint the desired results.

16 January 2008
What I learned from my failed "Web 2.0" project

From April till December 2006, I conceived, designed, and coded in the evenings. Though I dropped the project, it was very satisfying and taught me some harsh, but useful lessons.

15 April 2007
Automatically Create Table of Contents in Visio

As updating Tables of Contents in Visio is very dull, I wrote a macro (a small program) that automatically generates a Table of Contents list for a Visio document.

4 April 2007
Real Wireframes Get Real Results

Realistic wireframes are easier for users to understand and respond-to in wireframe tests. Published at

19 September 2006
Improving Web Navigation with the "All-Menu" Nav

A whitepaper on a way to improve usability in website navigation.

20 May 2006
Your Interface is your Company

A whitepaper on financial services business challenges and solutions.

30 March 2006
Better practices for rich internet applications in financial services

A presentation at the 2006 Boston Usability Professionals Association Mini-Conference

30 March 2006
Designing complex applications with digital and manual components

This presentation summarizes research and workflow techniques for designing complex applications, and was presented to the Intranet Benchmarking Forum. As always with presentations, much more was said than appears on the slides.

21 March 2006
The Lazy IA's Guide to Making Sitemaps

Use these lazy techniques and spend your time on more interesting problems than lining up little boxes! Published on

29 Jan 2006
Does Outsourcing Work?

Project management techniques can determine the success or failure of an outsourced project. The discussion of IT outsourcing has been dominated by the advertisements of the companies selling it and the concerns of US workers. Less discussed is whether it makes sense for a US company to actually outsource major software projects.

13 April 2005
How to Argue

Some tips on arguing, and how to avoid common logical errors.

17 January 2004
Intelligence is not enough

Our products solve physical problems, not intellectual problems. Intelligent devices won't be useful until they can take action to achieve their tasks. This may be more difficult than making the device intelligent.

We're getting what we ordered

What food additives say about us as consumers.

23 March 2002
The Good Login

A short paper on login best practices.

1 March 2001
What is Audio Design?

by Gavin Shepherd, with Stephen Turbek
This report is a discussion of the issues regarding using audio elements and sound tracks in modern interactive environments.

31 January 2001
The OSI Model and You

by David Neier, with Stephen Turbek
The Open System Interconnection (OSI) model describes the way in which information travels across a network. This report illuminates some of the inner workings of your computer as it browses the Web.

29 January 2001
An Introduction to XML

XML, the eXtensible Markup Language is a simple, flexible, open system for sharing data between organizations. Though generally invisible to the user, it is rapidly changing the way information is exchanged and is used in thousands of applications.

22 January 2001
Tales from the Cryptography

Secure Internet transactions have been as important as the Web browser in making the Internet useful. This report gives an overview of Public Key encryption and a brief history of cryptography.

12 January 2001
Telecoworking and You

Collaboration with distant colleagues is one of the biggest challenges in the new workplace. Here are some ways to make it easier.

11 December 2000
Analog & Digital

What does it mean to be "digital"? Why has the word "analog" become synonymous with natural, old, or human? Why exactly is the future digital?

4 December 2000
The Future of Plug and Play

Plug and Play technology is poised to make computers much simpler, if only we can agree on a standard.

6 November 2000
Are Cookies Monsters?

Cookies have been fingered as agents against personal privacy, but in reality, they work for you.

23 October 2000
Digital Sharing Ends Media Scarcity

Digital media can be easily duplicated, making it difficult to control the supply. A new model for commerce must emerge.

2 October 2000
Digital Sharing Ends Media Scarcity

Digital media can be easily duplicated, making it difficult to control the supply. A new model for commerce must emerge.

2 October 2000
What Can We Learn From Games?

Games illustrate what a good interactive experience can be.

28 July 2000
How to Peel a Chicken

The French culinary technique, the 'Gallantine'.

9 June 2000
Visualizing Data with Edward Tufte

Notes from the work of the master of information graphics.

6 June 2000
What is Tacit Knowledge?

by Ben Kleinman, Mary Quandt, Stephen Turbek, Neil Werhle
Tacit knowledge is used in all communities to keep people informed and engaged.

25 April 2000
What is Tacit Knowledge?

by Ben Kleinman, Mary Quandt, Stephen Turbek, Neil Werhle
Tacit knowledge is used in all communities to keep people informed and engaged.

25 April 2000