What led you into design?
During my years at school and high school, what I always enjoyed the most was putting together presentations and designing final deliverables. I was captivated by, rather than the work itself, the way any topic/project was presented and the narrative that bound everything together.
Not only did I enjoy preparing covers, presentation layouts, and visual ways to explain the projects, but I was also passionate about how to best deliver your message in the most impactful and easiest way possible.
From there, and when the time came to choose my way into university, I decided to pick a degree that offered a variety of possibilities in the visual language and conveyed a strong message together—Design and visual communication.
After my four university years working and learning about design and communication, I decided to specialize in branding and continue exploring how to deliver compelling, clear stories that best tell the narrative of a brand. Discovering the importance of art direction and creative copywriting shaped my work to become amply relying on them as the greatest vessel to express my ideas.
What does a typical day look like?
Luckily, I don’t think I can say there’s a typical day in my everyday life. Being a freelancer, every project requires different setups and organization. Some days, when I have to prepare for an interview and gather some personal work to present, I like to remain in a quiet environment so I can think calmly and decide what work is best to show that aligns with the client and how I can talk them through the story and the making process.
Some other days, when I’m enrolled in a project and have a task to get on with, I prefer to be in an environment that is surrounded by people (such as a coworking space), where I can both concentrate for some time and reward myself with a coffee/tea break after a mid-task has been completed. That provides me with the opportunity to take a breather and come back to it after a few moments with a fresher perspective.
Finally, when I’m enrolled in new projects and I need more mental capacity to think creatively about them, I prefer to be outside or somewhere where there’s physical space to move around without being disturbed. I feel that my most creative ideas come when I’m in motion and often having an out-loud conversation with myself.
What's your workstation setup?
I realise I might be a little unconventional on that aspect, as I don’t have a set station I normally work from. Ever since the pandemic hit, I abandoned working from big iMac screens and a designated desk to welcome the flexibility of working on my 15-inch laptop, from anywhere. That allows me to seamlessly move my little station around the flat and elsewhere—often changing scenarios a few times a day and visiting coworkers, coffee shops, and other work-friendly environment.
Where do you go to get inspired?
Whilst I try to go regularly to exhibitions, galleries, and museums that I’m interested in, I find that often, my best ideas come from being at home, in a quiet and comfortable space where I can focus and think thoroughly about things. Looking out my window and into the London sky tends to help too.
I love to build up a background of references and experiences by going to different places, but I rarely do so with an objective in mind or trying to get inspiration for an ongoing project. I try to keep myself up to date with what’s happening in the art world and soak in as much as I can from exhibitions, talks, or even from reading articles and reviews in influential blogs.
I tend to highlight everything I find interesting and keep a little journal of interesting thoughts or ideas that I’ve heard, read, or seen. These aimless and eclectic recollections of thoughts often become a valuable source of inspiration when working on something specific.
At the end of the day though, I almost certainly find my best inspiration by just being comfortably settled on my reading chair and enjoying the luxury of having a little visual scape: a window that overlooks the city of London.
What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?
That’s an easy one for me to answer today. Just last week, I was walking down Oxford Street, in Central London, and stumbled across a gigantic IKEA bag that covered the entire facade of a building. It was an identical representation of the iconic blue bag that the Swedish company sells to carry their products. The texture, the handles, and the colour were so well made and truthful to the actual 55x35cm bag that it instantly came to mind when I was asked this question.
Design is often a vessel to deliver great ideas, and for me, this is the perfect example of genius thinking delivered successfully. Although little graphic design was needed, using your most iconic item in enormous dimensions to advertise your flagship store strikes me as effortlessly brilliant. Born from an extremely simple idea, it created something extremely impactful and unexpected that delivers brand awareness and creates expectation. However, I should add that only brands as well-known and successful as IKEA can afford to utilise such prominent messaging space to only display a blue texture with a couple of handles on top. But it undeniably works wonders.
What pieces of work are you most proud of?
Earlier in my career, I often worked on print design projects that included a range of editorial pieces, business cards, physical invitations, and product packaging. At studios like Studio Makgill and Made Thought, most clients were highly concept-driven with inspiring narratives that informed everything they did, heavily involving print and packaging design. Approaching each product as a piece of design itself, I learned about the importance of treating each object and product as an opportunity. The physical aspect of it, choosing the right paper, texture, and print processes became paramount to create a tactile identity that reinforced the brand concept. A great example of a project that greatly revolved around its iconic product was the rebrand I worked on at Made Thought for Chandon, where the primary packaging and the elements created for it influenced every aspect of the branding.
Later in my career, when I left Made Thought and started working for larger brands, the focus shifted from print to digital. That made me readjust my mindset and incorporate the wonders of motion and digital design into my work. While still applying my editorial skills to the work, what it once was a static canvas is now a screen with infinite layers and different dimensions. During my time at Accept & Proceed, I was lucky enough to work on the store concept and design for the new Nike House of Innovation flagship stores. We were tasked with designing all in-store graphics and applications for the most innovative stores of the brand - Nike House of Innovation. A combination of app interfaces, interactive screens, and floor-to-ceiling displays placed around the shop was the biggest challenge.
What design challenges do you face at your company?
Currently working at Base Design, one of the biggest challenges I’m facing is becoming fully immersed in team dynamics and stepping back into a more overseeing role. Shifting from being brought into projects for the design and art direction phase to being a part of it from the very start - From resourcing and project planning, including strategy and ideation, through design and final delivery.
Besides my new role at Base, adapting to social media and understanding the major shift that it has meant in branding, has also been a huge challenge to crack. How brands have to reimagine themselves and the way they connect with their public, implementing engaging social media strategies to use those new channels creatively.
What music do you listen to whilst designing?
Any advice for ambitious designers?
Building a tough skin to cope with rejection, especially when freelancing or looking for the next opportunity. We all have to deal with it, there’s no way around it. Over the years, I’ve learned to put up with countless studios and clients not reaching back, recruiters and talent managers ignoring my emails and hard pencils fading into the wind.
I find that the only way forward is to rid yourself of shame, drop all self-doubts, and adopt a proactive mindset to reach out to people you admire. Getting the conversation started and your work in front of them is often the toughest one to break. Once you’re on their radar though, you might be just one email away from collaborating in the future.
Anything you want to promote or plug?
Probably my photography. As a result of my work as an art director and the inspiration I get from incredibly talented photographers, I developed a passion for photography myself. Telling stories through a photographic lens has become an excitement and hobby when I go on holiday.