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Global Innovation Design (MA/MSc)

Christian Pugsley

Christian Pugsley is a design generalist and communications specialist building transparent lines of communication for everyday people in global-scale systems by leveraging relationships between digital design, education, data privacy, and mental health.


Director of Design @ Publisher Arts (2017 - current)

Adjunct Professor @ University of Utah, Multi-Disciplinary Design Program (2020 - current)

Lead Web Designer, Producer, Developer @ Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA), “The Future Happened: Designing the Future of Music” (Open April 2021 - April 2022) Check out the live exhibit here.

UX Designer @ Open Music Initiative / Berklee College of Music, RAIDAR Music License Platform (2020)

Founder / CEO / Designer @ Adaptic Watches (2016 - 2018)

Designer @ Avant 8 (2016 - 2018)

Marketing Director @ Associated Students of the University of Utah (2016 - 2017)

Check out more of my work and experience here.


MA/MSc Global Innovation Design (Royal College of Art / Imperial College London, School of Design, grad. 2021)

BSc Multi-Disciplinary Design (University of Utah, College of Architecture, grad. 2019)


Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA), “The Future Happened: Designing the Future of Music” (Open April 2021 - April 2022) Check out the live exhibit here.

San Francisco Design Week, “Designing the Future of Music Presents: The look, sound and feel of expression, artistry, and connection.” (summer 2020)

Natural History Museum of Utah, “Dark Skies: Preserving the beauty of Utah’s night sky.” (2018-present)

Since I started at the RCA, I’ve found myself working to understand the underlying principles that govern digital product development. Less about how these products are built–in terms of architecture or innovation in code capabilities–but why each system is built the way it is, how that drives specific experiences or interactions, and how that directly affects individual users.

The problem is by calling them users, designers tend to forget that they're people.

My research began by examining how social media is affecting the mental health of users, but evolved to looking at how designers are perpetuating undesirable habits through the digital products they create. As I worked–and continue to work–to understand how these systems are built and used, my scope necessarily expanded to include the concept of “big data” and privacy–seeing as the two are inextricably linked, data being the key driver for every major interaction that takes place on any digital platform.

The more I work to understand these systems myself, the more I can see both the potential for harm, and the potential for immense good–but without people, none of it matters. We've failed in educating our "users" about why this pursuit is important and what kind of progress it can bring. But, by simply watching the news we can see in real-time what happens when those same "users" have lost all trust in a system that governs their lives.

Creating transparency in these systems is the key to collective understanding, and is the only way to push towards a healthier data future, not only for individuals or companies, but for the future of humanity.

Ego is a platform that gives people direct control of the ads they see online. In its simplest form, Ego displays individual ad interest groups as they are added to a user’s account in real-time, giving them the choice to accept, remove, or set their own schedule for each interest group. Ego then automates the process of pushing or pulling those groups from their device, directly influencing the types of ads a user would see. 

For ad platforms and data aggregators, Ego allows users to close the feedback loop, confirming or rejecting interest groups, and providing a clearer vision of what each individual is actually looking for. For the advertisers, Ego provides a higher level of assurance that the money spent on advertising is reaching the correct audience. And for people, Ego creates simple, flexible data options to match the complexities of everyday life. 

Ego. Simple data options for complex people.



Data is inherently binary, but life isn't.

In the privacy space today, individual companies are making varied efforts to increase transparency for user and their data. One of the most recent contributions was Apple's introduction of a new feature for iPhone–titled App Tracking Transparency–that gives users a binary choice: “ask app not to track” & “allow” on startup of newly downloaded apps. This feature gives users an all or nothing choice regarding their data, a huge step in the right direction in the eyes of many privacy experts and users, but has gotten backlash from the tech industry because it impedes on their ability to monetize their service and customize it to fit each user.

While it's every user's right to opt out entirely of data tracking, putting that choice first with no explanation is the same as accepting terms and conditions without reading the contract first–there’s no explanation of the transactional relationship for users themselves. Which would explain the reported 96% of apple users with that feature who have decided to opt out entirely.

With Ego, users get more than just a choice between yes or no, they get the choice to say yes–but not now, or no–but maybe in the future. People change over time, which means their data changes with them, so why are we stuck with just two choices? The answer: we shouldn't be.


Most every tech product, service, or platform online today hosts some sort of advertising. Whether internally or externally driven, it’s difficult to escape ads or sponsored content in any format. While the advertising industry has remained largely the same since it’s inception, the addition of new monitoring and profiling technologies have raised concerns from the public, not only because of the general distaste for advertising, but because of a larger growing concern for privacy, and the individual’s level of control.

Ego is a platform which takes steps towards mending both problems, advertising and control. Ego simply displays the interest groups associated with a user’s device, and then allows them to approve, remove, or customize when, where, and how long each group should be associated with their accounts.

While the user’s interactions are simple, interest groups are the underlying tool advertisers utilize to identify users and place ads. And since all advertising efforts are inherently an educated guess regarding what someone may or may not purchase, Ego lets users tell advertisers themselves. Reducing long-term ad spend for advertisers, increasing the value and accuracy of user data for ad exchanges and data aggregators, and giving individuals control.

Research for Ego spanned 3 different categories over the last year and a half: People, Legislation, and Industry.

People – what do people understand about the concepts of "data" and "privacy", and do they understand how it applies directly to their individual lives. This body of research consisted of surveys, conversations with industry experts, and conversations with normal people.

Legislation – while it's important to know what people understand, it's also important to know what legal rights they have to their data. This body of research canvassed the majority of all important data privacy legislation from the 1970's to today, looking for patterns, trends, and important takeaways of legislation and the rights granted by each governmental body or body of legislation.

Industry – the third area of research was spent speaking with industry professionals in the advertising, data, and data privacy / compliance spaces. The goal was to be sure to know what's currently possible within the technology and information security spaces, spotting trends and problems in product releases and compliance requirements. This was largely consisting of conversations with engineers, info-sec experts, attorneys, and targeted ad experts, as well as just simply watching the news as this space is changing by the day.

While Ego landed as a solution for control over your ads, it began as a hope to create a personal data OS, a place where any person could log in and access all data stored about them online, and then exercise their right to view, amend, and delete any of that information.

However, after realizing that concept is a little difficult for people to swallow, a late pivot turned me on to the ad space and the idea of using interest groups as the tool for direct communication with advertisers.

Ego as it currently exists and is presented is the first step toward this long-term vision, but it will take large steps in public education, legislative and policy changes, and most importantly industry incentive to make a system like this a reality. But, if I'm honest, we're a lot closer to that future than people realize.

Exhibition open: April 2021 – April 2022

View the live exhibition via the link above, or click here.

“The Future Happened is an exhibition that examines how design and art deepens our relationship with music. Exploring how design can be key in sharing our stories and amplifying our power to make a difference in the world. Examining innovation and technology that enhances connections and opens doors, reinforcing our capacity to spark change.”

I had the amazing opportunity to help design, organize, and build the first digital-only exhibition for the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) to showcase 47 different artists, designers, musicians, performers, and creatives working to change the music industry.

The exhibition features work from both world renowned artists / designers, to breakthrough artists finding their feet. It also features work from RCA Alumni and current students looking for innovative solutions to various aspects of the music listening experience, specifically work from the GID program and their ongoing collaboration between LADdesign, Designing the Future of Music.

This project was started and finished entirely remote over the course of the pandemic, starting April 2020 until launch on April 9, 2021, with contributing teammates located across the world.

Read more

Currently under development

It all started with a group of undergraduate design students looking for a job after graduation, and as their professor at the time, I was happy to answer questions and give advice. They were questions of not only where to begin, but what kinds of jobs they should be looking for.  

“Well, we don’t know what we don’t know.”

These are question all designers have come across at one point or another, no matter their expertise or area of interest. As someone who’s navigated these waters before, I decided—why not show them?

Starting from the S&P 500’s industry sectors–a list of the 11 most prominent business verticals in the United States–I Need A Job… was built to help designers explore their options, either starting from an industry they’re passionate about, or simply exploring an aspect of one job that peaks their interest. As job titles and descriptions vary company by company and year to year, this tool is not meant for precision, but instead to provide a window into a closed system that may have been incredibly difficult to explore without the necessary understanding, time, or connections.

Broken down, each column defines the different levels of hierarchy within the design industry–the largest (sectors) on the left, and the smallest (data types) on the right. As users make individual selections, they’re shown how it relates to items in adjacent columns, giving them the chance to start mapping out their future. 

Once complete, I Need A Job… will be a web based tool that enables users to explore various opportunities available in the design industry, understand the commonalities in roles across companies and verticals, and take the first steps towards securing their next big opportunity. 

October – December 2020

Our world is run by data - data that drives innovation and change at a global scale and defines our individual lives everyday. But for something so integral to modern society, hardly anyone seems to understand what “data” even is.

Breach is a card game modeled after real world systems and scenarios involving your data, privacy, and situations that you may have to confront in today’s digital world, if you haven’t already. Designed to pit friends and family against each other in (mostly) friendly competition, players begin by submitting a secret, or “collateral”, on the Breach mobile app. Once the collateral is secured, playing order is randomly assigned--with one player assigned to play the System, and gameplay begins. Each player's objective is to protect their data from the System, and survive until the time runs out.

When the timer ends, the game is over. Those who manage to survive have the right to their privacy and their collateral is erased--those who don’t have their secret automatically read aloud to everyone present. 

Personal data is a catalog of your day-to-day actions, recorded and analyzed by companies you may (or may not) trust, which can be exchanged or sold to anyone interested. Breach was created to shed light on the consequences of those complex transactions, with the hope that as we learn about today’s systems we can start to build healthy relationships with our technology, and begin to trust in those systems we can’t see.

If we can cultivate a transparent, mutual understanding with the apps we use on a daily basis, we’ll build a healthier data future for ourselves, enabling a world where data-driven innovation and improvement can truly flourish worldwide.