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inspirationIn the Spotlight

Rosie Ferris, Senior Product Designer

April 2020

Article

Spotify Design Team

To showcase our band members, every now and then we put a Spotifier in the limelight. Today's headliner is Rosie Ferris, Senior Product Designer for the Podcast Team in London. Put on your headphones, hit play, and read along!

Questions & Answers

Why are you a designer?

Ever since I was small I loved noodling around making and drawing. My grandad used to sit with us for hours and draw or paint with us—I remember him creating landscapes and scenes for me and my sisters to colour in. 

(Many years later) I went to art school at Kingston University. The course was very focused on conceptual thinking and I had the most amazing and inspiring tutors there—it was honestly the most transformative experience for me. I learned how ideas are worth fighting for, even if they’re hard to get (and even harder to sell).

My main motivation is that I’m curious about people, and how I can make technology work better for them. This is what inspires me to make new things, and to change existing things for the better. 

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

I’m working with an amazing group of people in London and Stockholm in the podcast and talk formats product area, as part of the core mobile experience team. I spend most of my time imagining how this could be better for both listeners and creators and imagining the future of Spotify as an audio platform. (Not just music!) One of the things I love about working in this team is that people often tell us the reason they listen to podcasts—to be inspired, to be entertained, to laugh, or to learn something new. As the format is evolving we are seeing many new types of storytelling emerge, and I’m excited to help people discover and engage with that content.

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

This isn’t my normal desk—my work station is usually covered in a lot more post-its, photos, and random sketches! But this is my work from home setup while Spotify is in WFH mode for the foreseeable future. 

  1. I usually take my notebook everywhere with me and I keep a sketchbook on my desk for drawing out flows and ideas. 

  2. A UX writer that I used to work with recommended this weekly planner—I love it, it has a section for each day, so I make a bunch of to-dos at the start of the day and try to tick them off as I go.

  3. Hand cream and lip balm! This hand cream is from my friend's company—The English Soap Company—and it's the best! 

  4. I design for both Android and iOS so have both devices near to view live as I’m designing, prototype or to test builds.

  5. I love everything from studio arhoj, I picked up my coffee cup and these two vases when I visited their studio in Copenhagen last year.

  6. I got myself this pen pot last week as I missed my one from my desk in the office.

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

At a product design studio I worked at previously, we were working with a startup in the field of science education. The product we were creating was a virtual laboratory, where students could learn about science even if they didn’t have access to a lab at their school.

I was never particularly great at science at school, so building a tool to teach kids about the subject was pretty far from my area of expertise. But during the project, I found that having a designer’s mentality, and approaching the problem without deep knowledge of the subject was actually a great advantage—there are things that you notice as a designer that even experts in a subject don’t see, and the questions that you ask.

On this project especially, not being an expert on the subject helped me to put myself in the mindset of our users, which should be at the core of any design. I now especially enjoy working on projects like this, with a healthy dose of the unfamiliar :)

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

Beyoncé

Beyoncé all day. Not only is she an amazing artist, she’s an incredible storyteller and promotes strength, independence, and female empowerment! 👊 If I’m in the mood to focus and design, I throw on Lemonade or her Glasto or Coachella performance. 

David Shrigly

I always love artistic humour and for me no one compares to him: the simplicity of his drawings, the randomness, and the unique ways he sees things. (I remember going to an exhibition of his with a friend and we couldn’t help laughing out loud.) 

Louis Theroux

A slightly odd one—but I'm a huge fan of his work. I really like how he gives his interviewees the space to open up and confide in him, which is much more interesting to watch. And he always manages to find new, unexpected and at times uncomfortable subjects to cover.

What would your self-portrait look like?

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

I listen to a lot of podcasts. Here are a few of my favourites at the moment: Science Vs, You’re Wrong About, The Tip Off, Invest Like the Best, Song Exploder, and the Design Better Podcast

Also, I’m currently reading and enjoying "Speculative Everything," by Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby. I'm interested in how they see design as a means to imagine possible futures, and throughout the book they share some really interesting examples.  

Last but certainly not least, shout out to my boyfriend, family, and friends. I love you all! You can catch me on twitter at @rosieferris :)

Credits

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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