Hello Anton, welcome to Digital Abstracts. Please, short biography, how did you start to be a designer and what is your current position?
Hello, DA!I was born in St. Petersburg (Russia) and grew up and studied in Tallinn (Estonia). After school I went to study architecture, but by that time I was already working as a graphic designer here and there, freelancing a bit, working for some local agencies. I didn’t focus on something in particular back then, as I was exploring different types of design, which probably made me choose what I want to concentrate on the most today. At one point I dropped everything and moved to Stockholm, Sweden where I joined the Fi team a little more than 3 years ago. Currently I am an ACD/Sr. Designer at Fi in New York.
What are the plans for the future?
To see the future.
Travel around the world, visit all continents and read all major classic books. In terms of my job it’s obviously evolving and progressing in what I do and touch base some unknown areas for me such as video and probably music. There are some personal goals of course I don’t want to uncover here, sorry : )
Working at F-I, what are your favorites and what are the dislikes?
The best part is of course all of the people around me, amazing amounts of talent per square meter. I like that we focus a lot on big and important projects that last for a long time, projects that are not really commercial based, but something that millions of people will truly use on a daily basis. I also appreciate the ability to work for highly respected and well-known clients, such as National Geographic, EA, Nintendo, Porsche etc. What I don’t like is when I put a lot of dedication and work into the project and it gets cancelled for some reason or another on the client side. Same goes with the pitching process.
You travel from New York to Stockholm. Where do you prefer work and live and why?
True, I lived in Stockholm for about two years when I had just joined the Fi team. After some back and forth traveling between the two offices I decided to stay in NY. There was an opportunity for a change in location and I went for it. I think one of the main reasons I like NY is because it’s a city that has aggregated so many different nationalities and people from all over the world; that I myself don’t feel like an alien here. In all of the time I have lived here I haven’t met many people who were born and grew up in NY.
F-I does a lot of interface design, you never get boring doing such things?
No, I don’t think so. I’d call it interactive design. It’s like cooking; where you can have the same ingredients but still cook entirely different dishes. When it comes to building or designing something, clients come from totally different backgrounds with different problems they need to solve. Even if the end result is an interactive project, for example, the way and path to it is always different with different solutions and sets of tools we use. Jingling the ingredients. On the other hand people have the ability to focus on different things during the project, whether it is design, or just purely interactivity or information architecture and user experience. I can only make a set of icons and pictograms for the project, for example.
Freelance, or full-time. You have choose full-time job. What is your opinion about these two sides?
I prefer full-time. I like to work in a team and interact with people. If you feel stuck you can always go up to any person in the office, whether it is a designer, an interactive or a developer for help. Any of these people can inspire you, tell you that technically they can do something new right now, or look at your stuff and give their feedback that pushes you to make things better and simpler. I like to be around dedicated people I can completely rely on, simply because they know exactly what they are doing.
What is your favorite project for F-I? Why?
Wacom was really interesting to work on. I am proud to be a part of the Kontain design team here and there and the Nintendo and EA projects are also at the top of my list for the projects that have been released. But the most favorites happened this year, and will probably be live later next year. One was for a massive and well known video portal, where we made the whole study on how people interact with video online and the other one is for a scientific portal/site where we are currently working with a client that thinks completely different and has different needs than our own.
What is your worst client you ever worked for. Why?
The worst clients are the ones that don’t make decisions, constantly change their minds and don’t set clear goals. But to be honest, I think there are no bad clients; it’s all about you, and if you are flexible enough to adjust to their needs, processes and can solve their problems. It sounds clich?, but it is really true.
Could you tell us a bit about how you manage projects creative direction at F-I. From beginning till the end. Describe the process!
We work on the projects in teams that usually consist of a producer, a designer, a couple of interactive developers, a UI architect and application developers. In the beginning we have a planning and estimation phase. Then we jump into the wire framing process along with concepting and working on ideas. During that phase we focus on UI a lot, making interactive prototypes, depending on the project, and the designer will start to work on a look and feel and design direction. We have an extremely transparent relationship with all of our clients and update them on a daily bases via daily morning “scrums”, where the team jumps on a short phone call with the client and talks about the process and sets up the goals and also via the BaseCamp system where for example me as a designer post all the design progress on a daily basis along with descriptions and explanations. So client is always aware we were are right now and what we are working on.
At the end we plan to have a week or two for the process we call FIQ, where we polish and tweak all the tiny details, making sure every pixel on the it’s place.
F-I is always hiring, is it hard to get trough and be one of you guys?
I don’t think it’s hard if you’re the right person in terms of skill set. It’s not rocket science we do here. We have a certain hiring procedure that allows us to determine if a person is right for the type of work we handle. Overall, our main goal is we just want to make sure any new team member will have fun working on the projects that are given. If he/she will enjoy it, the dedication and passion will be there for sure.
To be honest, we get quite some applicants (from a design perspective) who create really amazing work. Whether it’s illustrations or motion or other digital media, but when we get in contact with them and figure out that this is exactly what the applicant wants to solely work on, we just know that he/she won’t be able to work on something like that at Fi on a daily basis, just because we have a different range of projects here.
What are the F-I plans for the future, maybe office in Malasiya? Or somewhere else?
It’s a secret, but I can hear the waves of the Pacific Ocean.