Slava Kim

Slava Kim — Coinbase

Slava is a product designer born & raised in Russia, currently living in San Francisco.

What led you into design?

When I was a kid, I loved creating something from scratch and enjoyed both the process and result. My favorite hobby was origami, and I’m still fascinated by how much cool stuff you can make from one piece of paper. I still can fold a crane with my eyes closed.

I went to law school, but before I finished my degree, I knew that I didn’t want to be a lawyer. While I was working random jobs at coffee shops and bars my last two years in school, my friend was designing websites. I was inspired by his work and decided to give design a chance. I’m pretty much a self-taught designer. Everything I learned is the result of trial and error.

What does a typical day look like?

Usually, I wake up at 8 AM on weekdays and 10 AM on weekends. The first thing I do in the morning is cook breakfast and brew coffee with my wife.

After that, I walk to the office about 15 minutes away, make myself another cup of coffee, and start my morning routine.

The first things I check are my calendar and email. Because I’m the most productive in the morning, I work on projects then and chunk meetings into the afternoon.

What’s your setup?

I have a pretty standard combination of the 15-inch MacBook Pro, LG UltraFine 5K Display, and some accessories from iMac Pro. I try to keep my desk organized and clean most of the time.

Where do you go to get inspired?

I find architecture and industrial design very inspiring, as well as movies, music, and fashion. Here are a few Instagram profiles I enjoy:

SearchSystem has a variety of minimalist subjects
Abstract Sunday followed this profile after I watched 1st episode of Abstract: The Art of Design
Type Type has a lot of interesting typefaces

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

Nike Hijab is a great example of how design can fill a need in a very elegant way. Athletic wear has not changed much over the years, and Nike’s new design is both beautiful and inclusive of different cultures.

Another good example of timeless design is the Teenage Engineering OP-1. I’m no musician, but I’m impressed by how futuristic this still looks even though it was released seven years ago.

What pieces of work are you most proud of?

My team and I recently launched Coinbase Commerce. It’s very important for the ecosystem that cryptocurrency is as easy to spend as it is to buy, and this is the easiest way for merchants to accept crypto as payment.

What design challenges do you face at your company?

At Coinbase, we try to make something as complicated as cryptocurrency easy to digest and appealing for the average user. Often we have to make decisions without looking to existing solutions as a reference. Considering this, we’re also somewhat responsible for setting design standards in this space. We can’t create an open financial system if confusing design hinders users from exploring the app, and by extension, the cryptocurrency space.

What music do you listen to whilst designing?

Any advice for ambitious designers?

This is a wonderful job without any limits. Everything that surrounds us has been designed by someone: the screen you are looking at, the clothes you wear, anything you can look at.

Don’t set boundaries for yourself, explore everything you gravitate towards.

Anything you want to promote or plug?

Check out Coinbase Commerce. You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

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