What led you into design?
A love of colour and painting got me into design from an early age, but it took me about 25 years before I realized it was what I wanted (and could do) myself. I used to draw a lot as a kid, and should have gone to art school, but I ended up in a fancy University in England instead. It took me a while to re-route myself back into design when I got older and had done stints in journalism then too – but it only made me love it more!
As a teenager I used to draw and paint a lot, particularly water colours and I loved how acrylics work too. But I think the older I got, the less confident I became in doing a quick sketch or drawing. I think it was because I always drew (or was trained) to draw in a very realist style. I didn't give myself enough time to develop my own style as the years progressed, and now I struggle a bit! Designing on screen comes naturally, but it is the sketch of something on holiday that I never get round to doing and always kick myself for it. Must try harder!
What does a typical day look like?
In a nutshell: lot of meetings spanning a lot of different projects, all with a range of problems, breakthroughs, and moments of happiness and despair. A lot of time spent on Slack.
In more detail: I wake up at 6.30am, leave the house at 7.45 and drop my kids off at school before heading into see the team at Second Home Lisboa. I then rarely leave my desk (apart from going to the loo) until I have to leave at 4.15 to collect them from school again (the commute takes a while). I have incredibly bad habits at work — I always tell myself to go for a walk, but never do. Lunch is often whatever is hanging around on the snack table (fruit or crisps). Awful!
I'd say every work night I get home, I end up working too; putting the kids to bed around 8.30, then doing the night shift until midnight.
What's your workstation setup?
Where do you go to get inspired?
Walking around Lisbon is great for inspiration, as well as going to the beach and looking at the sea. Any time I have a few minutes of quiet time helps me clear out my thoughts and think of new things.
At home, I am obsessed with collecting design books, and, of course, trawling Instagram and Pinterest are more accessible ways of seeing some exciting new stuff.
What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?
A pencil. Such a simple design — I love how it can write upside-down! And totally universal. I used to have a pencil as a kid made from a twig that someone had rammed a large piece of lead into. I thought it was so clever! Despite it being rudimentary, it still works and functions beautifully. I still have it to this very day. :)
What pieces of work are you most proud of?
Freetree! Our rebrand of a browser app that plants trees when you shop online.
We created the whole thing in about 6 weeks, and despite there being some budget from the client for us to do all this work… we asked them to pay us in trees instead. It was such an incredible feeling to know that our work helped to plant 60,000 more trees! A great win for creativity.
What design challenges do you face at your company?
We face design challenges of different scales and proportions and importances on projects all the time. Sometimes it is a whole design system that needs concepting and connecting; at other times it is as simple as a bit of kerning on type.
What music do you listen to whilst designing?
Any advice for ambitious designers?
Work hard and be nice to people.
When we're hiring in our agency, the first thing we take into consideration is whether the person we are interviewing is able to show they have a kind and generous heart. Of course, their work also has to be first-rate, but being nice always comes first. Then hard work. You can't get good at anything without hard work.
Anything you want to promote or plug?
Since you asked so nicely, then absolutely! If you want a gorgeous rebrand by a world-class design team: https://how.studio/
As you've probably gathered by now, then this is our beautiful agency based in London and Lisbon. If you are a designer wanting to work in a world-class design team then head to our careers page to find out more https://how.studio/careers
If you want to see some of my inspiration on Pinterest then you can see my brain-dumps here: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/catarinahow/pins/
Thank you! :)