Free Association
We’re a fully remote
agency based in the U.S.


Transforming the driving experience.


We partnered with the Toyota Research Institute (TRI), an R&D division of Toyota Motor Corporation, to develop a singular design vision that could unite the digital interfaces in future Toyota vehicles. We crafted a unique conceptual design language and set of guidelines to unify and streamline the in-car UX across driving modes and displays, including instrument clusters, infotainment consoles, navigation systems, integrated applications and HUDs.


  • Product Leadership
  • Strategic Planning
  • Project Management
  • UX & Market Research
  • Testing & Measurement
  • Information Architecture
  • User Experience Design
  • UI & Visual Design
  • Interaction Prototyping
  • Brand Systems & Guidelines
  • UX Prototyping
  • UI Component Libraries

Considering the critical safety concerns when designing for automotive, we looked deeply into situational awareness and driver’s attention. This resulted in an underlying theory about attention and vehicle operation that served as the basis for our “Iris” design language and guidelines.

“There are approximately 40,000 U.S. auto fatalities per year. Our goal is to change that statistic.”

TRI Press Conference
CES 2019

We built a low-fi car prototype to simulate the driving experience and rapidly test different interface designs. Winning designs were then brought to TRI’s driving simulators and test vehicles for further validation and iteration.

Our work brought insight and direction to many of Toyota’s diverse challenges.

Multiple Interfaces Working in Harmony

Our design language called on carefully choreographed interactions across various screens within a vehicle’s cockpit to keep a driver’s attention on or near the road, bringing important information and functionality to their field of view rather than forcing them to look away.

Accelerating Innovation & Promotion

Project Iris hastened innovation within TRI by providing common components and UX patterns for engineers, allowing them to focus on higher order problems. In addition, it helped future innovations to be framed in more appealing design from day one, allowing PR to publicize them faster and with more confidence.

Seamless UX Across Driving Modalities

Our work looked across driving modalities (manual driving, driving with Guardian and various levels of autonomous driving), and at the transition between modalities (such as hand-offs and handbacks between manual and autonomous driving) to identify common patterns and achieve a seamless user experience.

Challenging Workflow & Process

Through an iterative workflow and design-led approach, we demonstrated to Toyota the value of working from the UX perspective. Our work became a proof-of-concept for the possibilities of a unified design language and design system that spans the entire driving experience, from screens to lighting, sound to haptics, and beyond.

“We’re unifying the UX throughout the vehicle. And it’s not just the screens, it’s throughout the entire cockpit of the car.”

Thor Lewis
Director of UX



All Work

We’re a fully remote
agency based in the U.S.