Aziz Firat — TIDAL

Dutch/Turkish designer living in Norway that loves to create beautiful and useful stuff.

What led you into design?

My love for art started with my grandpa. We were sharing a house together with my grandparents, and he was a very skilled oil painter. Every wall in our house had his beautiful paintings hanging on them. He would always encourage me to draw and be artistic, so in my younger years, I was drawing all types of stuff.

After getting a computer in 2004, I started designing as a hobby. Back then, there was no YouTube to search for video tutorials. I got better by copying work of others from Deviantart and talking to fellow designers on ICQ. Basically doing as much as possible to become a better designer.

Right after finishing school in 2015, I moved to Norway to join Opera Software. There I worked on their new brand, website and some of the products. About six months ago I made the switch to work more on a product level and joined Tidal as their product design lead.

What does a typical day look like?

I'm not a morning person, so I try to wake up around 7:45-8:00. I get ready, have a quick breakfast and then run to the tram to arrive at Tidal around 9:15.

If I’m well on time, I try to grab a quick coffee before the stand-up with the tech team. Around 10:30 I have a stand-up with my own team. We try to do it on a daily basis to give each other updates on the stuff we are working on. The design team consists of remote designers from all around the world, so we use Slack for our calls.

Before I have lunch around 11:30, I check my email, answer some comments on Zeplin and update the Trello board.

After lunch, I try to focus on the stuff I have to work on. This differs per day, but I try to design as much as possible. Aside from designing, my days also consist of planning and research. Sitting with developers and syncing with the head of product on a daily basis.

When I'm home, I try to spend as much time as possible with my wife. That comes down to watching YouTube/Netflix together and playing a bit of Zelda.

What’s your setup?

I have a 15" Late 2016 MacBook Pro, together with an LG UltraFine 5k Display. I use a Logitech MX Master wireless mouse with the Apple Wireless Keyboard. My sound gear is the Sony MDR-1000X and Sennheiser HD 1 In-Ears.

At Tidal we use Sketch for designing. Principle for quick animations and Zeplin for handoff. For my side projects, I recently made the switch to Figma.

Where do you go to get inspired?

I love to see what others do, so I follow interesting people on Twitter and Dribbble to see what they’re working on.

But, I've learned that what inspires me most are the following three things:

  1. connecting with hard working/down-to-earth people;
  2. traveling to other countries;
  3. listening to good music.

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

Definitely the Nintendo Switch, from the hardware to the sounds in the UI. While everyone else is pushing specs even further, Nintendo doesn't care about that. They rethink the console (they made my childhood dream come true) and stays in their own lane. That’s something I always have admired from Nintendo.

What pieces of work are you most proud of?

My ‘Rebranding Samsung’ project I did back in 2014. Not that it’s the best thing I’ve designed, but definitely the one that opened some doors for me. A few days after publishing the project, some editors from well-known sites contacted me to feature it. After them, more websites featured it and it kept on going for days. Literally, my Twitter notifications and email exploded.

I did receive a lot of criticism. From the logo not being well done to people finding it weird that it's featured. But this was a very nice experience I will never forget. I knew that I wasn’t a very good designer, I mean I’m still not a logo designer today. But I explored some designs in my bedroom because I felt that Samsung could do things a bit better. The outcome exceeded my expectations. Apart from that, it got me a job, I gained some experience and most important I made a lot of friends in the design scene.

I’m also very proud of the work we are doing here at Tidal. We recently launched a new version of the app. We have completely changed the visual style and user experience.

What design challenge do you face at your company?

Working with remote designers. When it comes to design, the social/collaborative element is very key. You lose that when everyone is remote. It doesn’t matter how many tools you use, it’s not replacing them sitting next to you. But, I’m using Figma lately and I think this can solve a lot of things!

What music do you listen to whilst designing?

You can also view on Tidal 😉

Any advice for ambitious designers?

Be yourself. Surround yourself with people who are ahead of you. Have fun while designing and rest when it's needed. Sometimes we can forget how important that last part is.

Anything you want to promote or plug?

Feel free to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, I’m pretty active over there.

I’ve recently launched Foreignrap, a platform to discover international rap music. I’m also working on a book tracking/recommendation website called Readng, sign up for the beta if you’re interested.

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