What led you into design?
When I was younger I was really into punk rock.
By "really" I mean I was going to most gigs in town, I planned road trips to see bands abroad and organised shows in Paris. I even toured with my own band. This scene was a nice playground for creativity, from flyers to posters and from album covers to websites.
There was a guy who was doing amazing flash websites for some local bands. I was really amazed by his work and wanted to do a similar kind of website to promote my band. One day I met that guy in a show and later he gave me source code of one of his projects. Since that moment I have never stopped working with code and I am still learning more every day. Note that flash websites were compiled applications that couldn't be inspected and at that time not many people would gave away their work for free as today.
Right after my studies at l'école des Gobelins I moved to London, I did not know speak english at all at that time.
I found a job in a small creative studio as a flash developer via a friend. I learned so much working there, I would like to thank the 2 owners of what used to be called "LingoBee studio" to give me this chance. They taught me so much knowledge, and made me understand how to build nice interactive website. This gave me confidence and was the starting point of my career.
What does a typical day look like?
I used to wake up quite late and worked most of my evenings but my life radically changed 10 years ago with the birth of my first boy.
Now my brain wakes in between 7h and 7h30 without alarm. The first thing in the morning is to prepare breakfast for the the family and to bring the kids to school on the bike. I am starting my day behind the computer around 8h45.
I definitely work way better in the morning, so I concentrate and accomplish the most creative and complicated tasks first. At noon I get a quick lunch and go back behind the desk (sofa at the moment) to tackle smaller and easier tasks.
"Holy shit it is already 14h45!, I need to run to school to pick up the kids and give them a snack!!!" I'll finish my working day by digging the internet, looking for new fresh stuff and new ideas.
Since covid I need to manage work life and parent life at the same time which is still not easy everyday! But I try to be as available as I can for my kids when needed. I switch off my computer in between 17 and 17h30 and be 100% available for family time. If I have some work left over I'll do it from the sofa after dinner.
What's your workstation setup?
I had just moved places in Amsterdam, and there is a lot of construction work in our new office. The first picture is from my old flat set up, the other one of my new messy apartment! And yeah, I am working from this couch at the moment.
Where do you go to get inspired?
Nowadays it seems pretty complicated to get inspired. Before covid I was freelancing in Paris where there are plenty of museums and exhibitions. I had the privilege to be able to see most of the exhibitions during the weekdays when it was not crowded!!
Light mapping of Notre Dame de Paris
Now I got my daily routine of checking twitter, awwwards, siteinspire, looking at some tiny details that enhance the global design.
Aswell I try to stay away from my computer as much as I can. Biking around, doing a bit of sports or having a nice time in the parks are really important to me. I need to lose focus on something else to find better ideas, so books, films and music is a good way to disconnect!
We are going as much as we can to breath fresh air at my parent's home near the sea in France.
On top of that I try to do as much sport as I can. I started bouldering 5 years ago and can't live without it nowadays. I do 2 to 3 sessions a week and I have just started drumming lessons this year.
I find it is really important to have a nice life/work balance.
What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?
I won’t be very original here so I will give you a recent website I loved! I was absolutly dilighted by https://benjaminrighetti.com/ made by @rubxkub and @grc_michael. There’s everything here, design, motion, story-telling, interactions and they managed to keep it all clean and simple! I love products that looks simple because they are the most difficult to create!
As welI I love the work from @Pat_Hg, you can check his last prod https://victoiredouy.com/
What pieces of work are you most proud of?
I would say beyond-beauty.co (even if it is quite old now!). It was such a nice collaboration with @LouisAnsa and @NahelMoussi.
I met these guys in a climbing venue in Paris during the summer, we were both freelancing with Louis when we decided to work together. We would start our day by doing some bouldering, then worked during those sunny July days and ended up drinking some beer that I brewed at home! This production has a lot of meaning. It’s not just designing nice things, it is about spreading a message. We spent hours tweaking animation to make this experience perfect!
What design challenges do you face at your company?
I finally created something I had in mind for years.
I developed a tech stack that's very easy to launch with all the tech functionalities I use daily.
So when we start a new project as developer I do not have to worry about technology but instead we can focus on the creative part.
Communication and process is a big challenge aswell, as a developer you do not want to end up as being only an executor.
What music do you listen to whilst designing?
Any advice for ambitious designers?
Work for yourself first, do products which you believe in.
Never work for fame.
Dare asking for help or directions from people you admire.
Anything you want to promote or plug?
After a bit more of 2.5 years in Amsterdam we'll be moving to Montreal next summer for a new family experience. I'm really excited for that!
Otherwise, for developers, I share full code bases of few projects I made without clients on my GitHub. I am sure you’ll find some nice tricks... https://github.com/romainavalle
And last but not least, I wanted to congrat the amazing community, I have met so many nice people working in this industry <3