Matthew Carlson


Matthew Carlson
Design Director, Creative Cloud Experience, Adobe

Matthew Carlson works on the services and content that help Adobe’s users to explore new apps and achieve their creative goals. He has a special passion for illustration, typography and the intersection of AI and creativity.

Prior to Adobe, Carlson was the Design Director of Business Products at Twitter, Design Manager on Business Products at Facebook, and Principal of Experience Strategy and Design at Hot Studio, an Innovation Consultancy in San Francisco. He’s spent time shaping brand experiences at the industrial design consultancies Design Continuum in Boston and One & Co. in San Francisco. He’s created groundbreaking brand and interactive experiences for IBM, UPS, Sprint, Zinio, Marie Claire, Seventeen, ReadyMade, AOL, Intel, Microsoft and Robert Mondavi.

Carlson was an English Major/Art Minor at UC Berkeley, where he wrote rambling papers on religious symbolism in Russian short stories and drank way too much coffee. He’s survived the Dotcom boom, the Dotcom crash and the Rise of the Apps. He is happiest at the whiteboard or doodling in Moleskines.


What are you looking for in an IDEA-winning product?

I love simple things that can be used in myriad ways. Digital or physical products that can be used to create many different kinds of experiences, or that put creative control into people’s hands, are the most exciting to me. I look for things that are easy to use, intuitive and compelling, and able to adapt to many different people, places and use cases.

What is the biggest shift in the design world you’ve noticed since your career began?

The biggest shift I've noticed is the rise of smart objects and responsive systems. I used to devour sci-fi and cyberpunk novels, where technology let simple objects come to life in magical ways. That future has crept into our reality over the past couple of decades; where sensors, cameras, augmented reality, AI and networked systems make inert objects and environments feel magical, respond to interaction and intention, convey information and transform themselves. I’m excited (and reasonably scared) of where the future is taking us.

What keeps you inspired?

I’m inspired by how easy it is to create and produce things in 2020. Some of my favorite games and apps have been created by individuals or very small teams. 3D printers and mills that usually lived in the machine shops of manufacturers or major industrial design firms are now sitting on people’s desktops. The maker revolution that’s already underway is continuing to accelerate.

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