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How to find design inspiration in a noisy and cluttered digital world

From Pinterest boards to Insta Stories, our social media accounts are full of new and exciting trends and ideas.
How to find design inspiration in a noisy and cluttered digital world

Today we have access to an endless amount of content and inspiration.

From Pinterest boards to Insta Stories, our social media accounts are full of new and exciting trends and ideas. For those of us in jobs that demand constant creativity it can be hard to focus on content that’ll add value to our work.

Today I’m sitting down with espresso’s Product Designer, Emily Marcos, who needs to bring an immense amount of creativity to her role at espresso each day.

 

G’day Emily! 

Emily: Howdy everyone!

Can you give us a quick elevator pitch about what you do at espresso?

E: I do all the fun things at espresso. From designing the packaging, to the user interface (UI) screens for our software (espressoFlow) and even working on the secret new products that aren’t yet public. I also keep busy running espresso’s very own Design Club, where we contribute to company culture with things like espressoMerch, hosting design events, and intercompany team-bonding activities (e.g. tennis, espressoGameNight, company parties). 

Do you think the endless amounts of social media content helps or hinders your creativity?

E: In my professional life, I see social media as being separate from my personal social media experience. Social media can be really distracting and I’m definitely a victim to the endless 1am doom scrolling on TikTok. However, on Instagram it’s very useful when you mould the algorithm to benefit your creativity. I have a design Instagram that I use for seeing what others in the field are making, and I frequently save those posts as inspiration. 

When it comes to seeking inspiration what areas of design does social media help with the most (e.g. fonts, colours, brainstorming, connecting with other designers)?

E: In a not so specific way, social media contributes to my overall design sense. Sometimes I specifically look for fonts or ergonomic handles or mechanisms for concepts. But mostly, it influences the smaller design decisions I have to make throughout a project, the details of things. 

Do you have a way of categorising/saving inspirational posts on social media that will help your design job?

E: I usually categorise boards on Pinterest based on the project they may relate to or inspire. On Instagram I tend to save ‘good product design’ in one folder and ‘nice renders’ in another. I also use a platform called ‘Are.na’ which is a social media app specifically for sharing design content without seeing ads all over the place. It’s a fairly uncommon/new app so I don’t use it as my primary source of inspiration. However, I love the idea of being able to browse content without the distraction of ads.

In your opinion, which social media platform is the best for inspiration and why?

E: Pinterest is my favourite as it’s a desktop browsing application that collates content on one big board. I find instagram less useful for this as it's on my phone and I can’t see the bigger picture (unlike what a mood board would give me).

I don’t believe in one platform being the best however, designers should seek inspiration in multiple avenues - I have a folder of bookmarks for sites like: Design Milk, Yanko Design, leManoosh, Behance, Dieline - Design, Balsamiq, KnownUnknown

Which are your favourite social media accounts to follow for design inspiration and why?

E: @renderweekly - daily posts of beautiful, realistic and creative product renders by creatives in the community.

@knownunknown - they’re a community of designers and they’re the one newsletter I love reading.

@samdoesdesign - Render King. He’s always sharing his work experiences as a designer, even down to his salary!

Social media can be full of diversity. Has this had an impact on how you approach your design work to make your end product more inclusive? If so, what’s your favourite example? 

E: For industrial design, you have to be considerate of people and their diverse characteristics. This applies to factors such as hand size, disabilities, etc. so when we’re designing for humans, we test our concepts with people from a range of backgrounds. For example, when we were designing our software, espressoFlow, we ran checks to make sure the colours and contrasts were at a rating of Level AAA under WCAG by using a colour contrast analyser online. This ensures that everyone will be able to use our software because this standardised rating system tells us that people with impairments can view our app due to low contrasts and other factors. We also test our physical prototypes with people by having them come to our office. By having them interact with the product in real life they can give us valuable feedback and make us aware of any diverse needs we need to cater for.

Aside from social media, where else do you seek inspiration from for your design role?

E: Films, music, conversations with people.

What’s the coolest way design has inspired you in your personal life?

E: I like to think that the design principles I use in my job spread out to other areas of my life and in a way improve my way of living. For example, design less, not more. I’ve subconsciously been using that mantra in my everyday life in an attempt to own less things. Having a cluttered space can impact our overall mental health, so by owning less I can live a more simple life and give more of my time to things that matter most to me.

What’s your favourite colour to design with?

E: When you work for a company that has an established brand style, you have to follow these guidelines and use the colours that they identify with. We use a mix of purple, yellow and orange, so I particularly integrate purple with physical products and yellow with digital products.

Great stuff Em, last question for you – espresso believes in providing people with the freedom to be productive anywhere. If you had unlimited money and 1 week off, where would you go in the world to design (or relax or explore!)?

E: I would visit Japan as I’ve never been and am inspired by Japanese industrial designers like Naoto Fukasawa, Muji and Mondo. I love the aesthetic style of classic Japanese design pieces, the American influence of Jazz cafes, and cat culture!

This interview was conducted by Clare O’Rourke, espresso’s PR Manager.

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