Ramon Gilabert

Ramon Gilabert — Netlify

Ramon is a Barcelona based interaction designer. He is into psychology and behavior, and is currently learning about behavioral economics, accessibility and inclusive design. A soccer fan and sometimes a runner.

What led you into design?

I remember seeing the first website back in our kitchen's Pentium IV and saying to myself that I wanted to build something for the web. I was 10 years old back then, and there was a drag and drop service that allowed you to do websites—and so I did—a website giving information about Greenpeace and their initiatives.

From that point on I started tinkering with basic HTML and CSS, I started to get into the world of Photoshop to do forum signatures, then MySpace themes, and finally custom made Photoshop tutorials.

The analytical part of design came later on, as my drive to do interfaces for the iPhone once I saw the camera animation in iOS 4 kicked in and I started to teach myself Objective C. The need to do simple, delightful and easy to understand applications opened the full world of what's now my day to day—including research, interaction, prototyping, psychology, and more.

What does a typical day look like?

My partner's alarm goes off at around 7:15 AM, and that's the sign of having only 45 more minutes of sleep. I wake up to a local radio station that I discovered back when I was in high school, where the host summarizes the most important sociological topic of the day in 2–3 minutes and then says good morning.

I sit on the sofa, answer some messages, look at my calendar, procrastinate a little bit and then, after 20 minutes, my system 2 realizes I am just staring at my home screen. It's time for an 8 to 10km run.

I take a shower, have breakfast, and then go to my home-office-space—I'll spend the majority of my day there. It's around 11 AM now, and because Netlify if mostly based in the United States, my meetings are all during the afternoon, so I take advantage of that and I start to do some work before lunchtime. Work here is light, the real heavy work starts after lunch at around 3 PM.

Meetings are over at 8 PM, and my partner just gets home. We cook a nice dinner, talk about our day, watch the Barcelona game, or just enjoy a bit of silence together. At 11:30 PM it's reading time, and at 12 PM lights are off.

What’s your workstation setup?

Where do you go to get inspired?

I like to be around smart people. Passion and drive inspire and challenge me and I am delighted by creative minds such as the ones of artists, musicians, writers and designers alike. They always have a new perspective that's remarkable to me.

While daunting sometimes, walking in nature in silence is also something that I love—and obviously sports like soccer, running or skiing inspires me, too. I guess it's the discipline and the effort that takes for people to do those activities that gets me.

I am inspired by architecture and museums, too, so I regularly try to go to El Museu del Disseny here in Barcelona, or MACBA, too.

Online, I am subscribed to a couple of newsletters:

Massimo: http://massimo.brandpad.io
Typewolf: https://www.typewolf.com/newsletter
Dense Discovery: https://www.densediscovery.com

And offline I try to read as much as I can—some books that have inspired me are:

Deep Work, Outliers,Leonardo DaVinci,Becoming Steve Jobs,
Creative Selection, Pep Confidential

I don't watch a lot of TV, but some of the movies I've purchased and watched a bunch of times are:

The Happy Film: https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/the-happy-film/id1247822525

The Social Network: https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/the-social-network/id405665335

Ex Machina: https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/ex-machina/id983488795

Finally, there is a local magazine printed every Wednesday here in Barcelona—it's called El Jueves (Thursday in Spanish), and it's a cartoonish take on politics. The quality of the drawings is astonishing, and it's a fun way to get inspired and informed every week.

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

I found the game Florence astonishingly beautiful, not only visually, but also on its storyline.

On a more functional level—one of the Mac apps that has really solved a problem for me lately was been IconJar, it was so easy to integrate in my workflow that it has really made a difference. Similarly to that, Things or Fantastical for the Mac—both beautifully done and executed. The one thing these apps have in common is that they were able to change and improve the way I work and do things.

I would love to do a shoutout, too, to my favorite Mac app I've been using since version one—Sketch.

Finally, this will seem like a joke, but one of the things I instantly thought was brilliant design was the toilet lid we have in our apartment. When you close it, it slowly returns to its original position without you having to do any extra effort. You get used to it instantly.

What pieces of work are you most proud of?

I cannot talk a lot about the work we did at Red Bull, as some of it has not been released yet—but I am extremely grateful, not only for the opportunity but also for the work we did as a team to revolutionize the way people interact with online TVs and watch sports all over the world.

Outside of that, I try to do better every day, and try to improve on the things I do on every project—specially because it's hard for me to be proud of the things I do, as I still feel I haven't closed the gap between the ambitions and the output—so all projects, big or small, are something I try to be happy of, though also challenged by.

What design challenges do you face at your company?

I recently joined Netlify, so adaptation is something I am currently facing myself, but I know that's not going to take forever. The real challenges we face as a company have more to do with maintaining the culture of the team while increasing the size of it—that is merged with delivering on an always challenging industry like the tooling one, specially around development, while still trying to validate our idea through market fit analysis and profitability.

What music do you listen to whilst designing?

Any advice for ambitious designers?

Be curious and never stop learning and asking yourself why. Read, study and above all, reach out to people—the design community is still new and small, and we are still trying to figure out how to do things. People have been one of the most important assets of my career, and it all started with a simple “hi”.

I am fascinated by this quote attributed to Picasso: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up”. Kids are curious and imaginative, and they never stop asking questions—I believe this is something we should never lose as we grow up.

Finally, I would like to also highlight this quote attributed to Ira Glass:

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

Anything you want to promote or plug?

I am working on a couple of interesting side projects this year, and, though they are still in very early stages of conception and design, I will try share as much as I can on Twitter.

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