We had a chat with Darian, a San Francisco based designer bridging the Brand Studio and Design Systems teams at Dropbox, to learn how he’s staying creative and navigating the current work–life landscape. Here’s what he had to say:
What led you into design?
I've loved books for as long as I can remember, but even from an early age I was more interested in the typography and layouts than the actual content. As a kid I'd buy magazines, take them apart and then recompose them. My coming of age coincided with the Tumblr era, so I was always seeing a lot of really exciting and experimental design there.
Initially I went to business school for a more “secure” route, but it really wasn't for me. I tried studio art and that wasn't really my thing either. Eventually I ended up transferring to California College of the Arts where I completed my degree in graphic design. I'm really glad that I took the time to figure out what it was that I actually wanted to be doing. It feels really cool to have stayed true to that younger part of myself that has always wanted to be a designer.
What does a typical day look like?
I aspire to be a morning person, but I'm just not. I usually wake up and get right to work. Something I really appreciate about Dropbox is that we structure our days so that all meetings occur during the first half of the day. So I often start my day with meetings, go for a quick walk or workout, then use the afternoons for some deep focus time.
What’s your workstation setup?
My favorite part of remote work is not being tied to a desk and being able to move around—I always try to be near a window. A lot of people think this is crazy, but I don't own a desk. With the switch to remote work, it was important to me that my home remains as my sanctuary and not just somewhere to be in constant productivity mode.
Where do you go to get inspired?
As cliché as it is, travel is super inspiring to me. I try to take some kind of trip twice a month. A change of scenery always helps me to reset and unblock my thinking. I love travelling to visit different architectural sites, I'm a big Frank Lloyd Wright fan, so often I'll travel to visit his work.
What pieces of work are you most proud of?
What design challenges do you face at your company?
I am on both the Brand Studio and Design Systems teams at Dropbox so it always an exciting challenge to strattle both and strike harmony cross-functionally. Brand and product design can be so siloed, which ultimately leads to a loss of consistency and a less than perfect experience for users. There can be tension between upholding a brand identity and meeting product needs, but that's where the magic happens.
Really be tenacious, it can take multiple attempts to make something happen, don't get discouraged or lose sight of your goals. Put yourself out there as much as possible, half of the battle is just getting in front of the right people, so don't be shy.