Growing up in New York, Malaysian designer Adam Ho says he was drawn to his father’s skill with a pencil. “My dad loves to draw, so I latched onto that kernel of creativity early on,” he recalls. “I remember at the age of six, my dad taught me how to draw my Chinese name in this insane hybrid-outlined-yet-cartoon-like calligraphic script, and in retrospect, that’s probably where my love for typography began.” This fascination eventually blossomed into a fully fledged career in design, as well as the founding of a personal design studio, through which Adam works for brands such as Airbnb, Dropbox and Medium among others.
Specialising in branding, interaction design and art direction, Adam says his approach to design is driven by an innate desire for exploration. His deep understanding of typography and his strong interest in how text and image can combine in different ways culminates in a process that he describes as “an out of body experience”. In other words, he goes with the flow, trusting his gut as he designs and working backwards after he emerges from this state, ensuring that everything makes sense and the overall product is consistent. “I feel like approaching a branding project is a similar gut feeling to picking something to wear,” he says. “Sometimes you just see a nice cropped dropped-shoulder light jacket in the best shade of maroon and you just feel like it's made for you.”
This intuitive process has given him much success over the years and he now boasts an enviable portfolio of high-profile clients. His recent collaborations include kinetic branding for MONA, a Metaverse company, which saw him develop a platform “that artists would feel proud of showcasing their worlds on”, and identity for innovative blockchain protocol EigenLayer, built on Etheruem, which taps into its academic roots through “codified and modular” typography.
Meanwhile, his personal projects include Liquidities, a small collection of 10 abstract motion expressions, meant to look generative, but each of which were created frame-by-frame in “a very lo-fi process”; as well as another ongoing series of artworks that involves “an abstract and analogue twist (similar to Liquidities) but with a Y2K spirit and aesthetic.” In these endeavours, Adam says he enjoys the creative freedom and ability to experiment with different approaches and technology, forming a symbiotic relationship with his commercial work through providing him with new tools to apply to branding projects.
In particular, he is fascinated by the rise of Web3 and AI and how these technologies can intersect with design processes and outcomes. “I’m excited to see what kind of brand identities emerge in this space,” he tells us. “The tools are getting more and more complex and technical, but as creatives, this is an interesting turning point to figure out how we start to build visual metaphors for these tools.”
Adam Ho: Liquidities (Copyright © Adam Ho, 2023)
About the Author
Daniel joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in February 2019 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. He graduated from Kingston University with a degree in Journalism in 2015. He is also co-founder and editor of SWIM, an annual art and photography publication.