About

Karl Emil James KochDesign Engineer

Hej, jeg hedder Karl. I’m an English-Danish designer and developer, with a strong foundation in Danish design principles and a focus on functionalism and minimalism.

I'm the son of a brilliant engineer and a fantastic teacher, so inevitably I’m a logical creative with a passion for mentoring. I've always been drawn to systems, I was obsessed with Duplo and Lego sets from the age of 1 and then woodworking projects with my grandfather as I got older. I naturally looked for patterns in anything I worked on or with, and found ways to leverage those patterns to simplify the experience of using or building what I was working on. I was also obsessed with focusing on the importance of function over form, allowing how something worked to provide its beauty.

Clearly, if a building is not functionally and technically in order, then it isn't architecture either, it's just a building. — Arne Jacobsen

As I got older, I got interested in album art and MySpace. Being in—and being friends with—local metal bands inspired me to make album art for them (Metal kid to Designer pipeline) so I got a cracked version of Photoshop and got on my way with too many gradients, awful fonts and attempts at realism. None of it was great, but it gave me a taste. At the same time, I was learning to hack my MySpace page by viewing the source of other people’s, finding the inline styles and stealing them for my own page. It turned out, writing arbitrary HTML in any textfield would override the current styles. It got fun and crazy, and I fell in love with the idea of modding.

Work history

Over my working years I've passed through several roles, starting out early at Apple Retail in sales, Genius Bar repairs and business support. At Apple I learnt the value of “fearless feedback” and also about adaptability through switching between multiple technical and non-technical roles, helping me gain a deep understanding of the wider business.

Since working at Apple, I've been fortunate to work at several awesome and interesting startups across several different industries. I started out working within Pharmaceutical advertising at Incuna [now shuttered] as an Account Manager, and then Cognite across their digital clientele, learning on the job to deliver user experience design and eventually progressing into UX leadership.

Subsequently, I found myself wanting to transition into Product Design and to work on a direct-to-customer project that could give back to humanity. This led me into renewable energy; leading product and frontend design at NeuerEnergy as a Senior Design Engineer with a small team of three. NeuerEnergy is an innovative, AI-driven, renewable energy purchasing marketplace for corporations where my main focus was to define our design system and build out our core product interface in both design and frontend code.

Following on from NeuerEnergy, I transitioned into leading our Design System as a Product Designer and occasional Design Engineer at HomeHero. Whilst there I helped to define, design, and build the Home as a Service, a new customer and business category. I was focused heavily on our design system definition, creation, and maintenance whilst also designing and building a lot of the core app experience in SwiftUI.

Towards the end of Covid (and after the effects of that) I joined Moneybox as a Product Design, DesignOps and Design Systems Lead, helping build the best personal savings product and ensuring customers save for their future, whatever that may be. My core focus was on our Payments and Investing streams, where I helped design and develop seamless payment experiences alongside defining the future of accessible investing for all. I also led our Design Systems team where I transitioned the 12 person Design team to Figma and built the foundation of our design system.

Currently I'm working at DuckDuckGo to help shape the future of privacy, making it simpler and more accessible for all. DuckDuckGo's goal is to build the easy button for privacy, and I'm spending most of my time working across our Search and AI teams to help us achieve this.

I’m also incredibly fortunate to collaborate part-time with an awesome team at the best headless CMS, Cosmic. At Cosmic I’m the Design Lead, defining our core brand and working to bring decentralised content creation to developers, marketers and other key stakeholders globally.

Finally, I get to work with and advise several awesome businesses on a regular basis, including Make Me a Cocktail, sign/off, and Quinn

Principles

Work History

This site, and all of my work, is dedicated to my hero, my inspiration, and the strongest man I've ever known. My father. I love you Dad.