Ari Sawyers — Facebook

Product designer based in London. Music, fashion, photography, and fresh coconut water enthusiast.

What led you into design?

As a child I was a visual learner; reading magazines, observing colorful branding on the sides of lorries and airplanes, or simply collecting and arranging LEGO minifigures was something I could do for hours. My parents decided to foster this creativity and allowed me to draw constantly, build structures, and express myself through digital mediums such as MS Paint. As I grew older I started editing photos (MS Digital Image Pro), writing basic CSS (MS Frontpage), and experimenting with music software (Cakewalk FTW).

I spent my time in higher education not knowing what I wanted to specialize in; which meant taking courses that weren't part of a traditional design education syllabus, such as Philosophy and Economics. After deciding to postpone my studies I started freelancing full-time in New York. Since then I've had the opportunity to work with some amazing people on great products all over the world, which seems to be going well so far.

What does a typical day look like?

Wake up (hopefully not too late), and cycle around thirty minutes to the office where I grab breakfast and coffee. Then I glance at my calendar to see which meetings are scheduled for the day, and check the status of the projects I'm working on. After scrolling and triaging the daily flood of emails and notifications I start design-related functions. This usually involves collaborating with engineers, product managers, content strategists, researchers, and designers on anything from product visions to research sessions to pair programming. After a morning filled with productive work I grab lunch with colleagues, then continue ticking items off the agenda (leaving time for a coffee break or two) until cycling home around 6pm. I'm making a conscious effort to reduce my screen time after work hours, and it's done wonders for my sleep habits and overall mental health.

What’s your setup?

The standard designer's hardware toolbox: MacBook Pro connected to a 5K display when I'm at my desk (usually in standing mode about 6 hours a day).

Image from Facebook

As for software, Sketch and Spotify are open about 85% of the time while Origami Studio comes in at a close second. Many of the other tools I use are browser-based, so Chrome Canary is usually open as well.

The other devices I carry nearly everywhere with me are iPhones (both 7 and 7+) and a Google Pixel. The key mobile apps I use daily – aside from Facebook's own – are Spotify, Soundcloud, Things, and Monzo.

Where do you go to get inspired?

I get on my bike.

Traveling and music inspire me more than anything else right now. The feeling of exploring a new place without understanding fully what it's about is always exciting, as is capturing different perspectives of your day to day environment. It sounds cliché, but simply sitting outside in Hackney, capturing voice memos of the ambience and creating blurry, zooming video clips excites me more than any design website ever could.

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

The new Nike AeroSwift football kits are brilliant, especially the latest Tottenham Hotspur away shirt. I'm really into sportswear right now and its cultural significance is undeniable.

Image from Nike.com

Another item which is simple yet can be physically and emotionally impactful is the small Muji humidifier – everyone I've talked to who has one loves it, myself included.

Image from Muji.com

What pieces of work are you most proud of?

The work I did with the Sunrise team are some of the most interesting products I've worked on. They include a scheduling tool, Apple Watch app, and Android redesign.

What design challenges do you face at your company?

Things move super quickly at Facebook, which is a major design challenge in itself. Ensuring that standards of quality are met (or exceeded) while keeping up an astonishing pace is no small feat, and I'm still learning how to improve my workflow as well as my team's.

What music do you listen to whilst designing?

Any advice for ambitious designers?

Always ask questions. Don't delete your old work, regardless of how terrible you may think it is. When you look back a few years from now you'll see how much you've learned. Stay focused on perfecting your craft (and reading the latest design community flamewar), but don't neglect your personal health for your work. Go outside. Eat fruit. Drink water.

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