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Corinne Onetto, Senior Project Manager

October 2021

Article

Spotify Design Team

To showcase our band members, every now and then we put a Spotifier in the limelight. Today's headliner is Corinne Onetto, Senior Project Manager for Editorial Design in Stockholm. Put on your headphones, hit play, and read along!

Questions & Answers

Why are you a design project manager?

I’m a professional problem solver who uses process, people and information to get things done A.K.A. a project manager. I found that I really, really enjoyed doing this kind of work in a design-led environment. I care about how people interact with the world and the language of that is design. So even though I couldn’t design, I found a way to put my skills to use in this very specific world.

Describe your job at Spotify without using the words "design" or "designer."

I care deeply about simplifying information and making it clear to use. I think it comes from being dyslexic. Nothing is worse to a dyslexic than long, unusable documents that require deep word-based focus to get something done. True torture. So I’ve taken that and flipped it. I try to get to the essence of something and put it in the most direct and comprehensible way possible — sound familiar? I think of my job almost as an act of translation. I take a situation and try to make sense out of ambiguity by simplifying a complex process and finding the information you need.

Show us a picture of your desk, and explain why it looks how it does.

I (like all of us) have been working from home. Luckily I had a ton of practice before so I kinda knew what I needed. 

  1. My notebook is pretty essential. I am a pre-digital millennial and I find the process of taking notes or working out ideas to be really helpful. I also doodle sometimes to stay focused in meetings. 

  2. My Headphones so there is no feedback during meetings.

  3. My pile of books to read. Not sure why I keep it there, maybe ‘cause it looks nice.

  4. My pens (see notebook above) and always a glass of water. 

  5. It’s all sitting on a standup desk that I almost never stand up, oh well. 

  6. Behind it all is an etching by an English artist of a French battlefield during WWI. I find it evocative and moving. It’s one of my favorite pieces.

Tell us about a time you beat an intimidating design challenge.

Design isn’t just about the perfect pixel in the perfect layout for the perfect user journey. Design is also about thinking about the user and collaboration. I feel proud anytime I can bring people together and help them get to an action that moves the dial. So much about successful design is about making sure the process works for everyone and that is what I do. I was part of the team that transformed a notable tech brand’s design system. I’m still proud of being part of an effort that changed the design language for an entire company. It was hard and it could not have been done without people with my skills set in the mix.

Name three non-designers you feel inspired by when designing.

I like iconoclasts. And weirdly British ones. People who came at the system from a roundabout way. I sometimes think that’s what we do in design, and it’s the core of our strength as a practice.

Iris Murdoch was a mid-century British author most famous for her Booker prize-winning book The Sea, the Sea. She wrote some weird, poetic, questioning books about love and loss. She was one of the first women I connected with who seemed to break all the rules. 

Vita Sackville-West is probably most famous for being Virginia Woolf’s lover. She was also an artist and a writer in her own right. It helped that she came from absurd privilege in late-empire Britain where, frankly, she benefited from a lot of the horrors of empire, but she also modeled a life lived on her own terms and did so publicly. 

Last, but most importantly, Simone Viel. She was the woman who made abortion legal in France, still one of only 5 French women interred in the Pantheon (the French holiest of holy ‘cemeteries’) and before all that she survived the Holocaust. She came back from that to live in a country that was still pretty openly anti-Semetic and changed it for the better. Badass. 

What would your self-portrait look like?

I took this very literally. 

Any final shout-outs or things you'd like to share?

I’ll give a shout out to walks. Yeah just walks. Without headphones. A walk where you can daydream cause you aren’t listening to something or staring at the computer. 

Also, one to my friend, Devon Cone. She works with refugees and she has spent her career bearing witness and changing people’s lives. I think every day about the impact she’s had and it gives me hope that we can make a difference. Also, donate to refugee orgs when you can regardless of your immigration politics. 

I’m really into gardens right now, so if you want to bury your head in landscape design, go check out the work of Piet Oudolf. He thinks about life and death, color and shape all through the lens of plants. He also creates these magical garden drawings for his layouts. It’s really more art than gardening. 

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Spotify Design Team

We're a cross-disciplinary team of people who love to create great experiences and make meaningful connections between listeners and creators.

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