Freelance Product Designer
Dario
Stefanutto

Dario Stefanutto is a multidisciplinary freelance designer from Italy. He works with international startups to design digital products, brands, and websites.

Barcelona, Spain • March 24, 2022

What led you into design?

My journey in design took many detours and brought me to 3 different countries, but it definitely started with drawing. As a child I was drawing all the time. I drew my first logo for my school when I was about 10 years old. It was for an initiative to build a bike lane next to the school's premises. The logo ended up being used and luckily the bike lane was built by the town hall.

When the time came to choose a university degree, I chose an industrial design course. I could see a lot of badly designed objects around me, and I thought I could do a better job. The focus of the degree was on interior design; tables, lamps, chairs. These products didn’t interest me particularly (aren’t there enough chairs already?). The digital world on the other hand was so much more appealing and actionable, so I naturally focused on that. I ended up spending most of my free time playing around with Adobe programs, learning illustration, graphic design and animation.

After uni I moved to Amsterdam to work as a motion designer and illustrator. I loved how a static image can come to life just by making it move. I would create explainer videos for startups from beginning to end.

After a couple of years I got tired of the ephemeral nature of marketing work, so I circled back to my old objective: make better products. But this time, digitally.

What does a typical day look like?

I work with multiple clients, so each day is different. Because I hate multi-tasking, I try to focus each day on a specific project.

My mornings are pretty slow. I wake up around 8:30am, make coffee with an Italian moka pot, take a shower, then head to my co-working space.

To start my workday, I take a look at emails, Slack messages, tasks, and notes in Notion. Once I have an idea of my priorities for the day, I write a detailed to-do list; this helps me relax and focus. My work consists mainly of UX/UI design, web design, or Webflow development, depending on the day.

I generally don't have any meetings before 5-5:30pm, so I spend most of my day doing design work. I consider that a luxury since I know how many meetings my friends have with their companies.

I finish work between 6-7pm, then decompress and disconnect completely. My favorite activities lately are cooking, climbing, and rollerblading along the beach.

What’s your workstation setup?

I work in a co-working space, and sometimes at home. Sharing a co-working space has had a really positive impact on my life since I started working remotely in 2018. It allows me to have a routine, some structure in my day, a reason to get dressed, get out to do my work and socialise. It helps me structure my day with a routine, giving me a reason to get dressed, get out of the house, and socialize with others while at work. I don't think it's very healthy to work at home, so I recommend co-working spaces to everyone who hasn't tried one yet.

My hardware setup is a Macbook Pro 15”, LG Ultrasharp 4K, Airpods, Apple Keyboard. And that’s pretty much it. I also bought an iPad Pro last year, but I haven’t used it.

My favorite apps for remote design work are Figma, Notion, Slack, Loom, and Webflow. All these are optimised for collaborative, remote, and async work.

Where do you go to get inspired?

I used to spend hours on Dribbble, Siteinspire, and Pinterest. Now I prefer to get inspired by real, live products.

In general though, I get my inspiration away from any screen. I’ve noticed that if my life is balanced and I have fun, my work gets better and feels easier. So, I try to work out a couple of times a week, hike around Catalonia, cruise around Barcelona on my rollerblads, or just hang out with my friends. Barcelona is full of beauty and design, so it's easy to find inspiration around the city. If I do these things, I can have fun and create better designs when I sit down to work. Guaranteed.

  • img_20211106_180620.jpg
  • img_20210224_185017.jpeg
  • img_20211012_134725.jpg
  • img_20211108_191215.jpg

What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?

In the digital realm, Figma is definitely the product that I love the most. Now that I’m used to it, it's easy to take the program for granted, but I still remember how frustrating it was to design in Photoshop or even Sketch. Figma is a masterpiece of usability, and the Figma team keeps improving it.

On a different topic, I love David Shringley’s work. In a world obsessed with perfection, his loose and humoristic style always manages to make me smile.

  • screenshot-2021-11-13-at-12.26.30.png
  • forbidden-fruit-1514x2048.jpg

What pieces of work are you most proud of?

A few years ago, I built a wireframe kit for Webflow called Legowerk. I wasn't happy with the templates available and starting new projects from scratch was incredibly consuming, so I created my own framework with a custom grid and reusable sections. I built over 100 responsive web components, over the course of two months. The kit became the most popular project on the Webflow marketplace and brought me a lot of new opportunities.

More recently, I designed and built a website for an machine learning company. The most exciting thing about this project was a collaboration with Nuria Madrid, an extremely talented 3D artist from Barcelona. In three weeks, I art-directed, designed, and built 50+ pages website.

What design challenges do you face at your company?

My main challenge is working with multiple clients while maintaining a high quality of work. I work part-time for a startup, with which I'm the only designer. On the side, I work on a variety of web design and development projects. It's easy to get overwhelmed, so staying organised is crucial.

Another challenge is working with clients that are eight hours behind me in terms of time zone. Building a digital product requires a lot of focus and communication, so it's challenging when you can't discuss things in real time. The time difference has some pros, like being able to work undistracted for most of the day, but also a lot of cons. It also forces me to keep most of my communication "async", via Slack, Notion, or Loom videos.

What music do you listen to whilst designing?

Any advice for ambitious designers?

Anything you want to promote or plug?

Since the pandemic started I've been receiving a huge amount of project requests. Since I can't accept them all, I started looking into scaling my business. So, if you are reading this and you are an experienced and talented designer / Webflow developer, drop me a line at dario.stefanutto@gmail.com.

Lastly, if you want to support me you can follow me on Webflow.