What Matters to Stephen Minasvand

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Debbie Millman has an ongoing project at PRINT titled “What Matters.” This is an effort to understand the interior life of artists, designers, and creative thinkers. This facet of the project is a request of each invited respondent to answer ten identical questions and submit a nonprofessional photograph.

minds + assembly co-founder / head of design Stephen Minasvand studied as a visual and experience designer. He thrives innovating for clients and creating things that matter.

What is the thing you like doing most in the world?

Listening to music. I know it seems simple, but the best things are. Music is often the soundtrack to my life. How I carry myself when I’m on the subway, turning down a block, or entering a room is perfectly a part of what song I’m listening to at that moment.

What is the first memory you have of being creative?

If I were to give you a proper memory, I’d say the most impactful and true memory would be when I was around 11 years old. My class was tasked with creating straightforward bar graphs with easy values for homework. The next day, I returned my paper with my bar graphs wildly colored— unique patterns, textures, and gradients for each distinguished graph and associated value. Everyone else did theirs in pencils, which was totally acceptable, of course.

I distinctly remember my teacher grading me with a C, despite all my values and graphs being accurate and correct. His rationale? That the design was not a part of the task and wrongfully unnecessary. Oh, how you were so wrong, Mr. Simon.

What is your biggest regret?

I do my best “regret thinking” in the shower. Usually about irrelevant things, like how I should have responded to that insulting comment about my jacket seven years ago, Beth!

The truth is, at any given moment, I’m thinking about something I should have done, something I should have said, someone I should have held onto longer, maybe someone I should have let go of sooner. As time passes, I’ve come to realize that irrelevant regrets slowly fade and the important ones turn into memorable learning experiences.

How have you gotten over heartbreak?

There are so many different kinds of heartbreak. I often find a beer in a dive, and a good playlist helps ease the pain.

What makes you cry?

Mozart’s “Requiem” gets me close. But very few things make me truly cry. I don’t think my answer is very unique, but I’ve learned that the pain or loss of a loved one gets me there, unequivocally.

Also, when Frodo leaves Sam at the end of The Lord of the Rings.

How long does the pride and joy of accomplishing something last for you?

That depends entirely on what’s been accomplished. The truth is, it can be as small as fixing a drawer or putting up shelving in my apartment. And after a long time, I’ll use the drawer, for example, and it still works— and I’ll really feel the joy of that, and maybe even a little pride for doing it myself. I know that might seem silly, but those little details last for me. The tangibility of it makes it real— and endures.

Ironically, sometimes the much more substantial accomplishments, such as winning a considerable piece of business for our company might only last a day or two— before I find myself subconsciously moving onto my next [necessary] endeavor.

Do you believe in an afterlife, and if so, what does that look like to you?

Nope. Smile. You’re alive today.

What do you hate most about yourself?

I’ve come to a place in my life where, with an immeasurable amount of help from my friends, that I don’t truly hate anything about myself. That doesn’t mean I do not anguish over things that I want to change about myself. And let’s be real, who doesn’t?

But look, if I were to take this answer a little less seriously? I hate my posture. Holy shit, would I love to just stand up straight.

What do you love most about yourself?

As much as I possibly could.

What is your absolute favorite meal?

My mom makes the best stuffed grape leaves. I don’t say this as a son who loves his mother. I say this as a culinary fact. Also, it’s always made with love.