What led you into design?
When I was 16 I decided I wanted to be a pharmacist, but after two incredibly boring weeks apprenticing in the local pharmacy (sorry, pharmacists!) I decided it wasn’t for me. Thankfully there was a graphic design studio across the way. The owner had a beautiful old printing press and drawers full of lead type, but what really peaked my interest was his iMac and the fact that he could make websites on it. He showed me how to design them in Adobe Photoshop and then make them “real” in Dreamweaver. I was hooked at that point and went on to study design at university.
What does a typical day look like?
Ideally it starts with a cold water swim in the Irish Sea, it really is the best way to start the day—I try to get out at least once a week.
That being said, it typically it starts with rolling out of bed around 08:00 and making a pot of coffee. I start work around 09:00 and split my day between design tasks, some project management, and internal meetings. I try to get away from my desk over lunch and then work until around 17:30. It's hobby season again, so I've taken up Irish language evening classes and I'm also learning the Uilleann pipes. I'm also deep into a Seinfeld binge.
What's your workstation setup?
Some photos from my home office and our studio in Berlin.
Where do you go to get inspired?
Well designed news pages are on my radar right now; for example, how the New York Times and The Guardian take complex/breaking news stories and create beautiful, interactive pages with them. Some great examples I saw last week; a story about Russian surveillance and one about the chaos during the 2021 UEFA Champions League Final in Paris.
In recent years I’ve started to learn more about other design practises, too—I read a lot about architecture and “real” product design. Obviously, there’s a lot of overlap between these disciplines and plenty to learn from them. Before the pandemic I was attending a lot of architecture lectures and found it really interesting to hear how architects talk about their work—how they describe materials, light, form, and space in such a beautiful way.
What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?
I bought some new cold water gear from Finisterre recently, an outdoor apparel company with a focus on functional and sustainable products, and the items came in this "Leave No Trace" packaging. It was very satisfying to watch it vanish as I poured boiling water over it.
What pieces of work are you most proud of?
Redesigning SoundCloud was pretty special! Really proud of the work we did there, it was a huge achievement from everyone involved.
Also, hot off the press is the new Highsnobiety app.
What design challenges do you face at your company?
We're a small team that often work on several large projects concurently, so being able to move seamlessly from one project to another can be challenging (but really rewarding).
What music do you listen to whilst designing?
Any advice for ambitious designers?
Learn as much as you can about the differnet departments you work with—some project management and programming skills go a long way. Find a mentor and ask questions often, always look to develop your skillset. And most importantly: give yourself a break once in a while, we're all just trying our best.
Anything you want to promote or plug?
I'm on Twitter less and less these days, but I lurk on Are.na quite a lot. I'm going to be publishing on my website more in 2023, so look out for that. Oh, and we're always on the lookout for people to join our team at A Color Bright, so if that's something that interests you hit me up!