Q – What is ‘good’ design to you?
A – It’s a very subjective concept, but I believe that good design is timeless. If something looks as good as what it did five to ten years prior, then to me, that is good design.
But therein lies the challenge too — and I think that’s what makes design so rewarding. If you can create something that stands the test of time, then I think you’ve done your job as a designer.
To achieve this though, there has to be a lot of trust from the client — they have to trust that your knowledge, and your understanding of design, and how a logo and a brand will evolve over time is right.
It’s a great concept; ‘good design,’ because it is so open to interpretation, fashion, and trends — but that’s the joy in it, rising above what is now, and finding what is ‘forever.’
Q – Who are three people, designers or not, that have influenced your career?
1. Dieter Rams
His ten principals for good design are revolutionary. Not just from a design standpoint, but as a way to approach and look at life in general. I’ll regularly go back through and read these — they’re incredibly inspirational, and are a great way to get into the right mindset before starting a piece of work.
2. David Pidgeon
A local Melbourne designer. Years ago, while still at uni, I saw him speak at a lecture and go through a few projects and his thought process behind them. I distinctly remember him presenting a logo that was based on the Fibonacci spiral found in a sunflower… it blew my mind that you should incorporate a deeper level of thinking, or an idea, into design. That it should be more than just pretty elements on a page, that there should be depth and meaning to it — whether the client or the audience fully understands it or not.
3. Mum & Dad
As a child, I distinctly remember a quote pinned up in the study that has always resonated with me:
“Don’t wait for the light to come on at the end of the tunnel, stride down there and light the bloody thing yourself.”
Q – You’re arguably the most organised person in the VTWO HQ. How did you develop your workflow? What steps or lessons allow you to lock that down?
A – Thanks. I think it has just been a process that has developed over time. I’ve always been a bit of a neat freak; I *need* my desk to always be immaculate, and I can’t stand clutter, so I think it has its basis in that. I like being neat and tidy, as it allows me to focus, or relax when needed.
I also know what does and what doesn’t work for me. I know that if I create task lists, outline my days, and have a process to work to; then it allows me to focus on the task at hand, rather than stressing that I have “so much work to do.”
Q – What’s an under-appreciated app you love?
A – I still don’t think people don’t truly appreciate Instagram or Twitter. I think they see them as an extension of Facebook where you only follow your friends, rather than using them for the specific purposes they were created for.
Twitter is now my news feed. I recently culled a lot of brands, and it has been a great move. It is also a great way to break from that cycle of mainstream news that seems to be so one-sided here in Australia — it’s perfect for finding both sides of an argument and informing yourself correctly.
Instagram for me will always be about good photography. It’s probably a very outdated concept and what the platform was a few years ago, but I still love using it in the same way — just a great way to quickly share a great shot.
Another under-appreciated app that I love is InstaPaper. It’s a great way to save articles to your phone for when you may not have access to data (think long flights while travelling).
Q – How about books — what is a book that’s changed your view(s) of the world or yourself the most?
“Monash: The Outsider Who Won A War” — Roland Perry
I can’t recommend this book enough — it should be mandatory reading for all Melbournians. The impact and direction that he had on this city is nowhere near appreciated. I just love the life he lead, and the way he organised his time and went about problem-solving. As an insight, he organised his day into 30-second intervals — that’s the type of man he was. Just incredibly organised. As an engineer, he was very good at thinking outside the box; it’s something we try to bring to all projects and clients at VTWO.
“Pushing the Limits” — Kurt Fearnley
He’s a household name, but what Kurt has achieved is phenomenal, and this book is a great insight. I’m a massive believer in seeing the person, not the disability, and I can’t think of a book where this is highlighted more. He is a man that was dealt a rough set of cards at birth, and despite that, has reached levels of success that has made him a household name.
“Mawson and the Ice Men of the Heroic Age” – Peter Fitzsimons
This book is a hard lesson on how proper planning and preparation will lead to success, and, failing that, in a worst-case scenario, will lead to death. The contrast between the British and Norwegian expeditions could not have been greater – Scott (the British explorer) lead his men to their deaths, while Amundsen (the Norwegian explorer) successfully (and safely) was the first man to reach the South Pole.
Q – You’ve recently had a son. How has the experience of fatherhood changed your day to day?
A – It’s certainly added to the day, but I wouldn’t say it’s changed it. I still get up and go to work, but there are now a few steps added (like a nappy change) before I get out the door. I do the 3am feed as well, but he’s so good; I can normally do a change, a feed, and re-settle him in around 15 minutes.
Coming home at the end of the day is the best – he is a little sponge, taking in the world around him, so to see his face light up when I get home is just the best thing ever.
Q – iPhone or Android? Why?
A – I’m an iPhone user. Mainly because it is seamless across all platforms that I use (in most cases). I like that I can airdrop things around very quickly and easily. I also think that iOS is super intuitive and straightforward to use — you don’t have to *think* about how to do something, you just do it.
In saying that, I feel that Apple has dropped the ball a little bit though. I’ve stopped using iTunes because it is isn’t what it used to be.
I love that a lot of their design is based off work that Dieter Rams was creating 40 to 50 years ago — it’s more evidence of what good design can be.
Q – An ideal way to detox after a hard day?
A – It depends on the day! A stubby (a bottled beer for our overseas visitors) never goes astray.
A run or a swim is excellent as well — you can completely clear your mind and lose yourself in the moment. I’ve been dabbling with meditation lately too — just 10 or 15 minutes at a time, but I have found it immensely calming and relaxing.
Q – Favourite holiday location?
A – This is a real tough one. My wife and I love Ireland, and it has always felt like a second home since our first visit ten years ago.
Japan is another place that I absolutely love (and we now have family there). On our last trip there I made an effort to get as much of the language down as possible with the help of my brother and sister-in-law. It was incredibly rewarding to be asked: “Where do you live in Tokyo?”
Pambula Beach (Far South Coast, NSW) is another favourite. It’s where I went on summer holidays as a child, where I fell in love with the ocean, learnt to surf, and, most importantly, where I proposed to Nikki.
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