Debbie Millman | Audio

Jen Bilik

Jen Bilik is the founder, owner, and overall head honcho of Knock Knock. She grew up in California, moved to NYC, and eventually ended up in publishing. Happenstance landed Jen in coffee-table books, exciting mini-productions unto themselves with graphic designers, illustration sources, four-color printing, authors, and copyediting. While serving as the point person for text on late-breaking books, she inadvertently enjoyed a series of deskside internships in graphic design. After a freelance stint that included editing many books as well as co-authoring two (Todd Oldham: Without Boundaries and Women of Taste: A Collaboration Celebrating Quilt Artists and Chefs), Jen moved to Los Angeles to ponder how she might make her elusive mark. A few years and a million head scratches later, Knock Knock was born out of Jen’s desire to play with paper and wit. With Knock Knock, Jen and the team seek to create products distinctive in concept, content, and design, immune to the disease of committee homogenization.

Posted in: Arts + Culture, Design Matters

Comments [2]

Would have been great to hear a discussion on manufacturing products in this day and age of global warming largely due to our consumer society which is overrun with making and buying things we don't need and are destroying the planet. I'd be curious to hear her perspective on products on demand in light of her answer where she talks about making a product of thousands that didn't sell. It seems as if we're talking about wanting design to make a difference these are questions we should be asking, not just design for design sake.

I agree with you, Jason. It's a tough spot to be in. We at Knock Knock are stuff makers: we love making our stuff, and people (seem to) love buying it. I feel environmental guilt constantly, and find myself torn, honestly, between throwing it all in and moving to the mountains and growing kale vs. moving forward with what we're doing. Sadly, I also think the planet is doomed because of lack of will for the necessary scale of change. And I'm not one who believes that one person or one small company can make a difference on this front, so vast is the problem. Further, much of the talk about "sustainability" in design and about design making a difference is inconsequential feel-good greenwashing that doesn't actually make one whit of difference, other than to make people feel better—and often morally superior—about their behavior. One note to cheer you up, though: in terms of making thousands of products that don't sell, they actually DO sell out, but in the end they have to be sold through secondary markets: closeout or liquidation retailers such as TJ Maxx and Tuesday Morning. It's not like we just throw them away. Products on demand are not where they need to be in many industries, including ours, at the moment. Thanks for listening, and thanks for asking!

Jobs | July 19