I am currently based in rainy Rotterdam — a port city in the Netherlands. ☔️
The pandemic did! I was working as an architect at an office in Rotterdam when we went into lockdown. It was a strange period. When we were in architectural school, a lot of our theses were about massive systemic changes in the way we live, play and work. Social change was a topic that I was drawn towards but I realised that, for better or worse, the profession could not respond as quickly as I wanted it to. It felt disempowering and so I started to look around.
Tech is an incredibly fast paced industry, and it was hard to ignore. In the earlier months, I freelanced in many different roles from branding, to copywriting, UI/UX and even front-end development. I realised that the industry shifts so quickly that these job titles are arbitrary.
At the end of the day, I watch people to find out what they need, speak to them to find out what they want, figure out where and what the obstacles are, and then I try to fix them.
This process and way of thinking is similar to architecture, except the scale is wonky. If you think about it, architecture deals in blocks, streets and cities but tech products are at the scale of a pixel. One of the best things about knowing both worlds is trying to figure out how to connect the two because that's where the magic happens.
I enrolled in Memorisely's Design Systems bootcamp because it was a skill I was lacking at the time. While freelancing, I tried to come up with my own design system but found that 90% of the time I had to detach instances 😱 constantly. I figured that a class like this would not only keep me accountable, but allow me to tap into the brains of all these other designers — and it has!
The amount of thought needed to even start a design system is shocking! A lot of emphasis is placed on understanding the structure, hierarchy and implications.
I also particularly loved how Zander reframed Design Systems to Product Systems - this alone unblocked a lot of confusion I had before.
Time. As someone who has switched careers and industry, there are days where it feels like you've wasted time to get to where you are. This is a perception that can be hard to shake, and with it comes a lot of guilt and anxiety. Personally, this was the biggest challenge for me rather than the technical and knowledge side of things. UX/UI Design, to me, is this beautiful sort of complexity that seems simple at the surface, yet unravels itself the deeper you get into it. In that sense, learning things in this space is a dream because you're never bored.
I start my day by waking up, making a cup of coffee and immediately jumping into work because we can't all have Elizabeth Holmes' level of morning rituals. As the sole designer on the team, my days are jam packed with anything from working out journey flows, facilitating workshops, pairing with devs and creating prototypes.
If tech's pace is comparable to Tour de France, life in a start up is on par with F1 racing. Thankfully, the work culture at Organise is great (we are a worker's rights company after all) and so I have flexible work hours.
When it stops raining, I (sometimes) go outside.
Being remote means that I can work from anywhere, and that's pretty sweet. I do find that being close to a window (I can't go outside, it's winter and raining) makes me happy. Depending on the type of work I need to do, I alternate between being at the desk with a huge monitor, working in cafes from my laptop, or simply sketching out a solution on the couch. Fancy setups are overrated, work wherever and however you want!
This is difficult because there are so many that aren't ready to be shared just yet! If I had to pick one that would sum up 2021, it would be my personal website. This is my first Figma → Webflow project and is the one that helped me reflect on my journey from architecture to tech. People are quick to discount their own portfolios but they are the best way to capture and reflect on all your learnings as you grow. 🌱
Without a doubt - Cron. It's the next-generation calendar for professionals and teams. When I was freelancing, I had multiple email clients and as a result, different calendars. It was a huge pain to sync them (especially across time zones) and I had actually missed a couple of important meetings because of it. This calendar app is incredibly powerful and I'm so relieved that they decided to build this.
This help get me out of a funk 🎶