The design industry is always changing and so my role is always changing. Mostly I solve human problems each day using exploratory research methods, visual, physical, and storytelling capabilities. My toolset is always evolving, but currently, I use Figma, digital sketching on my iPad and Adobe suite to build creative instructional workshops and processes to help solve the problem with key stakeholders and end users.
I also use a research repository called "Condens" that helps with organising, conducting and analyzing research probes and interviews to make sure the problem we are trying to solve is actually grounded with evidence. The type of problems depends on the company/industry I am working in.
At the moment I work with digital health within chronic health/diseases that affect people of all ages around the globe, for example, Obesity. In the end, I try to create an experience that helps makes people's lives easier when living with the disease and most of the time this entails some sort of app or web technology to help manage, treat and/or educated users, caregivers and/or health care professions. For example, I will set up a research study, analyze, sketch screen mock-ups and interactions, animate some for clarity on the concept, and then build them roughly in Figma for "wow" presentation materials and for further development by a UI/UX specialist.
My job title?
Product Designer and UX Researcher
What is your typical "day in the life of a designer"?
On a typical work day, I wake up, maybe go for a run, and then I decide to either walk to the office or work from home depending on if I have deep-focus work like research analysis. I decide to walk to the office because I have a project meeting that day. I sit at my desk in the product design and strategy team, go make myself a cup of coffee, and get a feel for how my design colleagues are doing. I continue to work on the beginning of a big new project.
I have participants lined up for interviews and I am preparing an interview guide and stimulus to show them for feedback. I am also analyzing the creative materials that they have sent me previously as a research probe assignment. All of these tasks are to help me get a better understanding of these participants' daily lives living with a specific disease.
As I switch from organising and setting up the interviews and analyzing some research data I sometimes form a "hypothesis" or design idea that I will quickly mock-up on my iPad to test again with participants later in the process. I might show a colleague a sketch or 2. I may share a research finding. I might google "how to ask about income globally" many times. I might YouTube a review of an app that a user mentioned to find out what are its pro's and cons to help in a future ideation workshop.
At the end of the day I meet with the team also working on this project; a marketing lead, UX/UI designer, Tech lead and I help us plot and ideate on a 1.0 service blueprint with post-its, if we are physically present, or in MIRO online. This is to help us align on what we "think" is a good experience flow. I then ask if they have any pressing questions they would like me to ask our participant's in our upcoming interviews.
Design principles you live by?
PLAYFUL! - After 3 years working with LEGO Education as a Concept Designer I now know PLAY is not "just an industry" to work with as a designer. It is a tool and principle that should be thought about in every experience in order to make a design more or less appealing, comprehendible, joyous, remarkable... etc. What it really can do for many experiences out there is help break down any complexity barriers a user may feel, by making them feel comfortable, welcomed and not patronised. Play even helps democratize the process.
FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION - A classic because of my education in industrial design, this principle is ingrained in my everyday and is timeless. It can apply not only apply to physical products, but to all experiences.
DESIGN SHOULD HELP SOLVE A PROBLEM: Depending on a person's values or even philosophy the measure of a problem can change. But don't get me wrong you do not have to always start with a problem to end with a great design.
CRISS-CROSS CONTEXTS AND INDUSTRIES: drawing metaphors and abstracting problems to other contexts or industries can help you get creative especially when you are in uncertain territory.
WHEN YOU'RE CONFUSED, START MAKING: To get out of a rut, start having fun and make stuff! Anything! You don't even have to think about the problem you're facing. Go enjoy some LEGO bricks, go explore another problem, take a life drawing session, sketch your project manager's thoughts from a previous meeting, anything!
What problem can't you stop thinking about?
Bathrooms! Toilets! Poo! Problems within the Gastro-intestinal Tract and how we make room for these problems in everyday rituals in modern society. One small example... It may sound like I am being silly, but gas is serious and society does not welcome this natural function without shame or giggling from discomfort in public spaces. What might the world be like if we freely passed gas in offices? We are all aware when our colleague's stomachs rumble during quiet serious meetings - the discomfort they endure to continue a talk about a backlog... Owee...
Our daily lives in more structured design offices compromise many natural bodily functions and it is affecting our guts through many stressors. There are so many stigmatised and elusive problems connected to such a necessary function for so many people on this planet.
There is so much need for more research and innovation in this area... Lastly... what the heck is a gross toilet brush still doing in the bathroom in 2022; it's archaic. (haha)
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Progress over perfection!
Just make something and keep making something. Don't overthink it so much. We can think things over and over for weeks and months and our brains won't get us any further sometimes. Just start by doing and forget all the people who are so worried about wasting a day of resources. Just making something will always get you 1 step further to figure out what to do next?
When is "Design done wrong"?
I am thinking of more services or urban systems. For example the trash and waste collecting system of NYC... laborious, smelly, and energy inefficient.
Design tools you can’t live without? (Physical and/or digital)
My iPad pro. I love it! and I use it to connect visuals to interactions, screens, and physical situations. I sketch on it constantly. I use it for low-fidelity animation and video demoing as well. I typically use Sketchbook pro for storyboarding and designing experiences and product concepts, but I also use procreate for animating and more fine art projects in my free time.
What’s in your bag?
My bright yellow backpack you say?
A Muji Pen and Pencil
Calligraphy marker (because you never know)
Muji Yellow-ink Pen & 3 other pens (all very special)
Thin and Thick Marker, Yellow Orange
Macbook & Ipad Pro
Books you highly recommend for anyone pursuing a career in design?
Just a lot of science fiction!
Two Designer friends you admire and we should talk to!
Arielle Zoeller is not only a fantastic warm-hearted human but also just so incredibly driven and talented when it comes to her craft. I go to her for all graphic advice decisions.
Gonzalo Loayza C. I have always really admired Gonzalo's industrious creativity and rigour. He is always on the move and always adapting to the world of design.
Where and What did you study?
Bachelors of Industrial Design, Minor in Sustainability
Pratt Institute, USA
Danish Institute for Study Abroad, Denmark
Master of I.T. Product Design
University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
Where can we find you?