In the Spotlight - Daniela Fernandez, Senior Product Designer

In the Spotlight - Daniela Fernandez, Senior Product Designer

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

Why are you a designer?

I’m a designer not only because I like solving users’ problems in a creative way, but also because I get to think about how to execute and implement the solutions. I love learning about users, gathering all the information needed, and thinking about processes and the best way to approach problems. Being able to see the big picture, but also dig into the details…that’s what I enjoy the most.

As someone who once considered being an accountant (yes, my love for spreadsheets goes way back), I have to say that one of the things that led me into design is that every job, project, or task is different. There’s no formula. You can indeed think about standardizing the process and documentation, but the solution will always be different. And that — to me — is super exciting!

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

At the moment, I’m working with an amazing team which focuses on creating valuable Premium experiences in markets where Spotify is still quite new. I spend most of my days learning and ideating around how users in these markets listen to music, buy products and services, decide what they value the most, and engage with artists and creators.

It’s an incredible experience because it really puts things into perspective. As I work with audiences that have very different motivators and problems, my job is to make sure all users have meaningful and lasting relationships with Spotify, regardless of where they are in the world.

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

My desk is usually quite messy, full of notes from meetings and empty cups of coffee. Every day before I go home, I try to clean up the mess and keep it decent, but the reality is that I have a window ledge next to me where I keep all the useful stuff I’ll need tomorrow.

  1. Monitor. Without a big screen, I’m useless. I usually have email and Slack on the small screen, and the thing that I’m focusing on at the time on the big screen.
  2. I was having a bad day the other day, and my lovely friend and amazing designer Sahana got me this lovely present to make me feel better.
  3. It looks like I have mints here, but it’s actually ibuprofen.
  4. Ergonomic mouse. A few months ago I got ulnar nerve entrapment (in both hands!) due to my bad posture. I got an ergonomic assessment done and I ended up with this mouse that looks like a shiny ball. I have to admit that I’m not a fan.
  5. Wacom tablet. I’m cross-dominant, that means that I use one hand for some tasks and the other hand for others. I’m not good at writing with my right hand, so I usually use a mouse on my right and the tablet on my left.

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

A few years ago, prior to Spotify, I worked on a project where the brief was to redesign and re-platform the website of a company that was going through a massive digital transformation phase...in just three months. I was co-located with three other designers, but all the engineers and most of the product managers were abroad. Everyone on the team had different goals, priorities, and needs, so a lot of compromises had to be made in order to deliver the work on time.

I had to decide how to design something that hadn’t been done before, prioritize what was essential to the user experience, and learn to let go of many ideas because we simply didn’t have the time to do them all.

I spent the first few days planning a way for a group of designers and engineers to focus on thinking and testing innovative ways of addressing the main user needs. The other group focused on identifying, designing, and implementing all the functionality that made up the rest of the platform.

With a roadmap defined from the very beginning, regular check-ins, and clear documentation, we managed to deliver everything on time and continue to iterate on it after delivery (something that almost never happens when you work in agencies!).

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

Films are one of the main things that spark my imagination and David Lynch is one of the directors that inspires me the most. His work is not only visually stunning and weirdly immersive, but what I love the most is that I can watch his films and not have the need to find an answer for everything, It’s all about how it makes me feel, and about the experience of watching the film.

Storytelling is a massive part of my work, and The Moth podcast really helps me to think about the structure of a good story and how to present it. The themes of the stories are all different and you can be laughing out loud one minute and crying three minutes later (yes, I’m that weird lady crying in the Tube on a Tuesday morning).

Nick Cave has a newsletter where every week he answers questions fans submit to his site. The answers are so profound and personal that every time I finish reading the newsletter I feel like I had a tiny peek into his mind. It’s inspiring to see artists taking the time to give back the love that the fans pour into them.

What would your self-portrait look like?

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

I can’t finish without thanking my biggest design inspiration and my number one supporter, Matias. I’m not saying this because he’s my husband, but he really is the best designer I know. His dedication, passion and love for design are contagious and inspiring.

One of my favourite books is “Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking-Glass World” by Eduardo Galeano (Patas Arriba: la Escuela del Mundo al Revés, in Spanish). It’s a tough read and not necessarily uplifting, but I would recommend this book to everyone interested in learning more about why things are the way they are in Latin America (and the rest of the world).

And lastly, The Modern House Podcast. The Modern House has every designer’s dream home. I spend hours and hours going through their listings and imagining living in one of their properties. A few weeks ago they released a podcast where they talked to designers and architects about their top three properties. It’s the perfect listen for my commute!

Practice your Spanish by reading my tweets and re-tweets https://twitter.com/nnogui and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/nnogui/

Illustrating for Spotify with Jarom Vogel
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Illustrating for Spotify with Jarom Vogel

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