First Things First

Arts & Culture Podcasts

First Things First is a show about how inspiration and design accelerate positive change. We explore this theme through conversations with people who are using creativity to take on tough challenges.




First Things First is a show about how inspiration and design accelerate positive change. We explore this theme through conversations with people who are using creativity to take on tough challenges.






Farida Abu-Bakare

Farida Abu-Bakare is a young architect with a startlingly wide range of experiences. She has helped design everything from airports and major cultural centers to hospitals and university science labs. She is currently Director of Global Practice at WXY. In this episode, Abu-Bakare discusses her upbringing, working in North America and Africa, progressing through some of the world’s most prominent architecture firms, finding purpose in mentorship, and the importance of joy to designing a...


Bjarke Ingels

For the past two decades, Bjarke Ingels, founder of the eponymous architecture firm, has designed forward-thinking and conversation-starting objects, buildings, and master plans across the globe. In this conversation, Ingels talks about the sources of his optimism, creating a “master plan” for the planet, and how important storytelling is to design. This episode features an edited version of “My Earth” by The Sound Room. The original can be found...


Barbara Groth

Barbara Groth has a striking ability to generate positive change. Her new company, The Nomadic School of Wonder, operates at the intersection of nature, art, and community and helps people to be deeply present in the moment, in their thoughts, in their bodies. In this conversation, Groth talks about her groundbreaking early explorations of multimedia design, including work for Disney, IBM, and Apple; the importance of play in our experience of the world; and how end-of-life palliative care...


Bruce Mau

Bruce Mau is a designer who has shaped some of the largest companies in the world, and is now working on even bigger questions, like how to reinvent higher education, the future of Guatemala, and a thousand-year vision for the holy city of Mecca. In this conversation, Mau talks about the origins and themes of his latest book, MC24, and about how inspiration is key to changing the world for the better. Host: Paddy Harrington Producer: Heather Ngo Editor: Brian Sholis This episode...


Alex Honnold

Alex Honnold is a rock climber best known for his ropeless ascents of the world’s most forbidding rock walls. You might recognize him from the 2018 documentary Free Solo, which awed viewers with his forethought, tenacity, and focus. These qualities drove him to the top of his sport and now underpin the Honnold Foundation, his nonprofit devoted to promoting solar energy for a more equitable world. In this episode of First Things First, we talk about designing your life to achieve your goals,...


Cey Adams

Cey Adams is a soft-spoken legend. A New York City native, he emerged from the downtown graffiti scene before becoming the creative director of Def Jam Recordings, where he designed for Run DMC, The Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Notorious B.I.G., and Jay-Z, among others. In this episode of First Things First, we talk about the relationship between art, music, and design, what makes a good client, and the importance of passion. First Things First is produced as part of Frontier Media. Learn...


Jeremy Leslie

Jeremy Leslie loves magazines. He leads magCulture: a design studio, online resource, magazine shop, and events producer. He divides his time between designing, writing, and curating. His book The Modern Magazine was published in 2013 and the online magCulture Journal is a key source of editorial-design opinion and news. In this episode, we talk about magazines as recording devices and the evolution of ideas in the space where print and digital meet. First Things First is produced as part...


Marina Willer

Graphic designer and filmmaker Marina Willer is a partner at global design firm Pentagram. Before joining Pentagram, she was head creative director at Wolff Olins in London, where she lead iconic work like the visual identity of Tate Modern. In this episode, we talk about her film, Red Trees, which tells the story of today’s refugee crisis through the lens of her own family. And we talk about the role of the designer in a world that is overrun by consumption. This interview was recorded in...


Tina Roth Eisenberg

Tina Roth Eisenberg has many preoccupations and passions, she started a Temporary Tattoo company called Tattly, a Global community meet up group called Creative Mornings, and a Digital task organizer called Teux Deux. After studying design in Switzerland and Germany, she moved to Brooklyn in 1999 and worked as a designer eventually starting the design blog swiss miss that became one of the world’s most visited design websites. In this episode of First Things First, we talk about magic and...


Robert Brunner

Named one of Fast Company’s ‘Most Creative People in Business’, Robert Brunner is the designer of such iconic products as the Apple PowerBook and Beats by Dr. Dre headphones. Former Director of Industrial Design for Apple, he laid the foundations for moving computers from the utilitarian to the desirable and helped define Apple as the most powerful brand and technology company in the world. In 2007, Robert founded San Francisco-based design studio Ammunition to communicate ideas through...


Paul Lavoie

Paul Lavoie founded Taxi in Montreal in 1992 with his partner Jane Hope. The ad agency became widely known for its innovative work and soon grew an international reach working with a wide range of global brands. Lavoie left Taxi to devote his time to Beau Lake, a luxury paddleboard and lifestyle brand he co-owns that’s a modern interpretation and tribute to vintage wood power boats They have recently released an electric runabout boat that promises to revolutionize cottage life to be more...


Pia Betton

Pia Betton links design thinking to business. Originally from Denmark, Pia’s 20 year career spans brand development, corporate design, design research, innovation and communication. Her international client portfolio covers private companies from many different industries like Lego, Bosch, Bang & Olufsen, and Carlsberg. In this episode of First Things First, we talk about the challenge of growth, the challenge of change, and the challenge of Design Thinking. First Things First is produced...


Jessica Bellamy

Jessica Bellamy is an information designer. She tells visual stories using data and personal narratives. She started her design career working with nonprofits and community groups to create visuals that break down complex service and policy information. In 2015, she created a small design agency called GRIDS: The Grassroots Information Design Studio. She creates infographics for social change. In this episode, we talk about how design can be used as a tool to help fight for social justice...


Live Episode: Laura Stein

This episode of First Things First was recorded as part of our Live Magazine project at DesignThinkers, in Toronto. The interview is with Sid Lee creative director, Laura Stein and was done by Frontier Senior Designer, Tristan Marantos. To learn more about Live Magazine, visit and look for Live Magazine in our media section. First Things First is produced as part of Frontier Media. Learn more at Host: Paddy Harrington Producer and Editor: Max Cotter This...


Grace Hwang

Grace Hwang leads Design at Carrot, a technology company that helps people quit smoking. For 12 years, she lead healthcare focused projects around the world in her role at IDEO, a global innovation consultancy. IDEO is most famous for popularizing the term design thinking. Design thinking recognizes that design school teaches how to put people at the centre of what you do. Design lead companies are the ones that put people first with the understanding that what’s good for people is good for...


Jessica Hische

Jessica Hische describes herself as a "Lettering artist, author, illustrator, letterpress printer, and type designer" but also a "Mother, procrastiworker, and a million other things". She has worked with many well recognized brands, authors, and other designers on a multitude of different kinds of projects. In this episode, we talk about her new book, “Tomorrow I’ll be Brave” and the downside of labels. First Things First is produced as part of Frontier Media. Learn more at...


Live Episode: Bonnie Siegler

This episode of First Things First was recorded live on stage at Design Thinkers in Toronto with Bonnie Sielger about her book, Dear Client. Siegler was voted one of the 50 most influential designers working today by GDUSA. Her career spans a wide range of influential clients and projects like the Trump parody autobiography You Can’t Spell America Without Me. Other recent clients of her design studio, Eight and a Half, include The New Yorker, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and The Frank Lloyd...


Forest Young

Forest Young is a designer and educator whose ranging knowledge stretches to all points of the map, challenging the listener in unexpected ways. At Wolff Olins, he leads design initiatives for the world’s most influential companies recently competing a brand refresh for Uber. His work has been exhibited at MoMA, he is the recipient of many awards and is a graduate of the graphic design program at Yale University. In this episode, we talk about, well, just about everything. First Things...


Michael Bierut

Michael Bierut is a proper gentleman. With his sharp dress punctuated by an iconic hat and scarf, he moves through a room with the gravity of one of the world’s best known designers. But his iconic status is paired with an arresting attentiveness. He’ll write you a surprising and unexpected personal note thanking you for something you should probably be thanking him for. That personable attitude comes through in conversation. In this episode of First Things First we’ll discuss how your own...


Ellen Lupton

Ellen Lupton believes that design tells stories that touch peoples’ minds and bodies. She asks how a song tastes and how designers engage the senses to create richer and more inclusive experiences. In this episode, Ellen talks about the tyranny of visual perception, the ultimate self serve convenience store, and why designers should be thinking about ethics in everything they do. First Things First is produced as part of Frontier Media. Learn more at Host: Paddy...