Joshua Söhn

Joshua Söhn — Kontist

Designer based in Berlin, currently leading the design team at Kontist, where he works on a banking account tailored specifically for freelancers.

What led you into design?

A lot of the interests I had when I was 14/15 paved my way into design: I started skateboarding when I was 12 (it sounds cool but I really sucked at it) and I was always fascinated by the graphics on the back of the skateboard decks. One day I asked the owner of a local skate shop how they are made and he told me “graphic designers” make them. Later when I was playing drums in a local cover band (I sucked less at that) I ended up designing our logo, doing a giant banner for gigs and pasted some random HTML into our myspace site. It was all a lot of fun so I kept doing it, got an apprenticeship at a big agency, landed my first freelance gig at Lookbook and it all went from there.

What does a typical day look like?

My alarm goes off at 8:30 and because I’m a lazy fuck, I mostly hit the snooze button until it’s like 9. I grab some food while on my way to work and start my day at around 10. Most days I divide my time between project management, meetings with the product and marketing departments to discuss our projects, doing QA, designs reviews, writing tickets for new features or pages and doing some actual product design work now and then. The only regular pattern is our team lunch and going to bonanza to grab a well needed after lunch coffee with my peers.

What’s your workstation setup?

Nothing special actually, MacBook Pro from 2016 connected to a 4K LG Monitor and an iPhone X as my personal phone.

Where do you go to get inspired?

I’ve always been a big fan of platform agnostic design and using best practices over trying to design the most glamorous app. I often take the most inspiration directly from iOS and Android and try to check out every new OS version and app from apple and google to see how they use their design system and when they push it to its limits.

I do also have a well-curated list of people I follow on dribbble, but I don’t view the popular page at all anymore.

Furthermore, I’m open-minded to every form of design and architecture but I would say they rather influence how I think about design in general and you wouldn't see direct influence in my work.

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

There is a bunch actually. Visually I really liked the landing page of mixed.io and the new portfolio of Bakken & Baeck, one of my favourite design studios.

For product design, I recently stumbled across a new phone OS for a minimalist phone called Siempo. MDS, the designer of it, made a really good video explaining his concepts, which I recommend checking out.

The Kontist Design Team also went to Forward Festival in Vienna recently and one of the speakers were a Linz based graphic design studio called OrtnerSchinko. They did some really amazing branding work which I kind of fell in love with.

What pieces of work are you most proud of?

Everything I did for Kontist actually. It’s been great seeing the app and the brand evolve over the 3 years I’ve been at the company. It’s a perfect example of design just getting better and better through iterations. I’m also very proud of my team and how our other designer Nicholas shaped our brand since he joined half a year ago and Elena our illustrator for doing such a great job of executing them.

I also recently adjusted our settings and split them into two sections. I’m very satisfied with the very minimalistic redesign and our new icons.

What design challenges do you face at your company?

Our app helps freelancers with taxes and accounting, both topics not too many people want to wrap their head around. To design a financial app and a brand around it, which is easy to use, connects with the user and makes them trust us with their money is not easy. Finding the right balance for a product like this is something I think about every day. So far I’m happy to say we are on the right track.

What music do you listen to whilst designing?

Any advice for ambitious designers?

Don’t feel discouraged by crazy requirements on job postings you see which might you seem not qualified for a job, if you think you got it, be confident and go for it. I hope we will arrive at a point soon where more people will understand that experience is not equal to the amount of years you worked.

Anything you want to promote or plug?

I’m most active on Twitter and Instagram, if you would like to keep in touch, I’m actually very grateful for each follower.

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