René Simonsson, Product Designer I
To showcase our band members, every now and then we put a Spotifier in the limelight. Today's headliner is René Simonsson (he/him), Product Designer I for the Sharing team in Stockholm. Put on your headphones, hit play, and read along!
Questions & Answers
Why are you a designer?
What I love about design is that it’s a way of sense- and world-making. Fueled by curiosity (and caffeine), I get to enter a new unfamiliar space, make sense of it using different design processes and tools, and bring forth a narrative and a world. As part of this, I get to advocate for users across abilities, intent and needs, and represent them. And to do that well, I get to work closely with other talented people and with our users. In my opinion, design, and on a broader note, sense- and world-making, is communal and inclusive at its root; it’s something that is impossible to do well in isolation. You’re by nature required to collaborate within (other designers), across (other Spotifiers) and outside (our lovely users) of your own discipline.
Describe your job at Spotify without using the words "design" or "designer."
My job is to have a finger on the pulse on all things social, and help our users nurture the relationships they have in their lives through sharing. This involves lots of chatting to our users, working with some amazingly talented people across different disciplines, and testing sharing capabilities that inspire our users to express themselves across partner platforms, from Spotify.
What would your self-portrait look like?
Who would be your dream person to collaborate with and what would you make together?
I know he’s passed on (R.I.P.) but my dream collaborator would still be Anthony Bourdain. I love Parts Unknown and I also really admire his writing. His revered 1999 essay, "Don't Eat Before Reading This", for The New Yorker is one I revisit often — partly to impress my impressionable friends over dinner by parroting some of his gastronomical hot-takes (like how sinful brunches actually are), but also because you can literally hear his voice as you read. And we’d make a three-metre-long Middle Eastern mezze together (think 10 different variants of baba ganoush).
What internet trend, design account, or meme has caught your eye recently? Why?
Maria Figueira runs a really cool TikTok account called “Case Studies”, which is a curation of what Maria is currently thinking about in the world of design, architecture and culture. Some interesting gems I have discovered from there include “smoke glasses” by Joe Colombo (that are formed so that you can simultaneously hold a cigarette and your drink in one hand), and 1980s industrialism.
In an industry that often profits off of exclusivity and gatekeeping, it’s a really refreshing and accessible approach to design education — all in the form of bitesize TikTok videos!
What's one piece of design wisdom you would give to your younger self?
Don’t stress about keeping track of the influx of daily design trends getting pumped into the internet. You can also sharpen your design sensibility outside of Figma tutorials, design thinking frameworks and typography theory. You’d be surprised how a conversation, a poem, a really nice meal or a walk can inspire your design craft and approach.
Which song best represents your design career? Why?
I instantly thought of Kacey Musgraves’ “Slow Burn”. I have a tendency to be quite hyper-existential about everything, including my design career and decisions, big or small, so my mind can sometimes run at 100 mph. This song reminds me to step out of my ego and thoughts, ground myself in the now and enjoy life as just one long, slow burn.
Any final shout-outs or things you'd like to share?
First of all, a huge, huge, huge shout-out to my lovely Sharing family (pictured above) for their lightheartedness, passion, and crude jokes. We have accomplished so much and I can’t wait to see what else we can do together!
A very special shout-out to my design partner-in-crime, Hanna Norlin (pictured far right, rocking a moustache), and my manager, Oylum Serin, for their trust in me from day one – I wouldn’t be the designer I am today without them.
Another special shout-out to one of my lifelong friends – Maria Moss. Aside from being a very talented filmmaker, she’s also an incredible friend. We met on a filmmaking bootcamp in Edinburgh back in 2015, bonded over Shik Shak Shok and our fascination with raw vegan YouTubers. She has taught me so much about resilience and the importance of pursuing your creative endeavours, no matter what.
Finally, a big shout out to what has become my favorite dive bar in Stockholm and the backdrop to my formative mid-20s growing pains: the elusive Stage! I’ve taken foes, friends, and lovers there and it never disappoints. On a really good night, I leave Stage with some new wisdom about life. On an OK night, I leave Stage with a funny story to tell. And there’s never a bad night with Stage.
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