#132 Ben Blumenrose of Designer Fund: My Favorite Books, Tools, Habits and More | 20 Minute Playbook

In Episode #132, we deconstruct Ben Blumenrose's peak performance playbook—from his favorite book to the tiny habit that's had the biggest impact on his life. Ben Blumenrose is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Designer Fund. We cover how AI might affect designers, the business value of design, and learning from science fiction.
Last updated
September 12, 2022
Min Read
Before launching Designer Fund, Ben was a design lead at Facebook, design director at Varien, and a designer at CBS.
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About Ben Blumenrose

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“I think one of the things that's lacking in human-centered design is humanity-centered design, because when you're optimizing for the individuals, well, then what happens to the ecosystem at large?” – Ben Blumenrose

Ben Blumenrose is the Co-Founder, Co-Director, and Managing Partner of Designer Fund, which is an early stage venture capital firm that backs founders who both recognize the power of design, and are committed to getting design right in their company from day one.

Before co-founding Designer Fund with Enrique Allen in 2012, Ben was a design lead at Facebook for nearly six years after joining when the team was just around 100 people in size. In this episode, you'll learn why Ben is fascinated with AI like Dall-E 2 that can create original artwork, why design is utility centric, what Ben has learned from studying natural ecosystems, and why they make it clear that our growth at all cost mentality is flawed.

For more, explore the transcript of this episode.


In this episode, we deconstruct  Ben Blumenrose’s peak performance playbook—from his favorite book to the tiny habit that's had the biggest impact on his life. In it we cover:

  • (00:00:00) – Introduction
  • (00:02:48) – How AI might affect designers and artists
  • (00:08:48) – Why should you care about design?
  • (00:15:58) – Inspiration from passionate designers
  • (00:22:36) – The business value of design
  • (00:26:38 – Knowing a good product and standardizing processes
  • (00:31:04) – Learning from science fiction
  • (00:36:16) – Design in the everyday world
  • (00:40:22) – Learnings from 10 years of investing
  • (00:46:34) – Focusing on the craft of design

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Castbox, Pocket Casts, Player FM, Podcast Addict, iHeartRadio, or on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.

An Idea Worth Trying

Ben finds that he learns the most about the future of design and work by reading fiction and science fiction books. If you usually read self-help or tech books, try switching to fiction for a change of inspirational pace.

Our Favorite Quotes

Here are a few ideas we'll be thinking about weeks and months from now:

  • “I think one of the really cool use cases for something like Dall-E is to give that superpower to the person who's trying to communicate to the visual artists like, "Hey, this is what I mean. Here's a visual representation that's pretty close or captures some of the essence or the tone," and then go off that.”
  • “Inherent in design, when done well, is this idea of creating something for a person to use, the act of deliberate creation for a specific use case. It's not art, right? We have art. Design is really meant to be... there's a utility there, so inherent in design is the idea that something should be useful.”
  • “What plays to your strengths? Play that game. Play the game the way you want to play it.”

Books Mentioned

The following books came up in this conversation with Ben Blumenrose:

Selected Links

We covered a lot of ground in this interview. Here are links to the stories, articles, and ideas discussed:

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