Hello! Who are you? Tell us about yourself. What are you passionate about? What do you enjoy doing?

My name is Arsenije Catic, but I go by Archie. I’m a design generalist from Belgrade, Serbia, passionate about running and various esoteric disciplines. 

I enjoy hanging out with my roommate — Sushi the cat.

How did you get started in product design?

Guess it was 2010 when I discovered Quora. There were numerous stories on “product design”, mainly by Rebekah Cox but also from some early Facebook designers. That exact term struck me because for the first time I was able to see that “UX design” can be practically applicable by a single person. It was a paradigm shift for me.

At the time I was an “interactive media” student, and had a burning desire to get my hands dirty with building software product from scratch. This is how, together with couple of friends, I founded a startup called “Taksiko”.

Where do you work today? What is your title?

I currently work with Seven Bridges as Head of Product Design. We are helping researchers around the world to be more efficient in finding cure for numerous diseases — cancer among others. 

Where I work.

How big is your company? How big is your design team?

We are around 240 people in total, where design team currently counts 6 extraordinary individuals. 

The folks I work with.

What types of things are you responsible for day-to-day?

I always thought that behind the fancy job title lays a fancy job, but I learned it’s quite the opposite. All the responsibilities I now have towards the people/company could be tucked under the line that “I’m trying to help some designers do their best work”. 

What do you love most about your work?

For me there are 2 main things: problems and people.

In order to succeed in our mission, a bunch of tough problems needs to be tackled. Some of them can’t be solved from the first shot (some even require years to be solved), so over time you start falling in love with problems instead of solutions.

I love the people I work with. Working with them is a perk by itself. They are constantly pushing me to broaden up my creative thinking. 

What drains you at work?

Toooooo many things to be honest, but I’ll mention some highlights.

The industry we are building our business in is super sensitive, conservative and slow when it comes to the adoption of new things. This results in a lot of technical/product restrictions, unusual user pain points and slow feedback cycles. 

Engineering driven culture is not the friendliest place for designers. Often times you need to double down you efforts even for the most usual stuff.

Can you walk us through your typical work day?

5:00amI’ll get up around 5-5:15 and meditate, do some breathing exercises and series of yoga poses. Once I’m stretched and warmed up I’ll go for a run, get under the shower when I’m back, and fix a brekkie. All this is “me time” so I don’t rush it.
I’m in the office usually between 10 and 11. I’ll check in with the team, go around the floor in the hope of cracking a quality joke here and there, in order to get the juices flowing and kickstart the day in the right mood. 

After that, I do a lightweight plan for the day while trying to be very flexible: answering all communicational leftovers from the night before, have operational syncs or 1:1s with designers. Each day at 12:45 I have a daily sync with the Belgrade office senior management team.
1:30pmLunch time
2:00pmThis is where I sometimes sync with folks from the US office, and do some “real” work.
6:30pmGetting back home, chilling out with my cat, cooking dinner and winding down.

Where do you turn for inspiration?

I really like to dig into the Internet. This is something I’m really patient with and it makes me feel like some sort of a forensic technician.

Sometimes this includes following designers I look up to, and watching them develop and grow their careers over time. I like to read whatever they have to say, where the sweetest part is actually discovering their inspiration.

Besides that, for product design I currently try to learn from design systems of outdoor sports gear manufacturers, nuclear plants and ultimately nature (as in biomimicry).   

When it comes to visual design, I’m a huge fanboy of a couple of swedish design agencies who are constantly pushing what I call “elegant brutalism”.

And finally I try to draw as much inspiration as I can from my friends and peers.

Also, what Desirée said here.

What design or project are you most proud of? (It can be recent or older).

I’m one of those people who are never satisfied with their own output. I think Dustin sums up that syndrome very well.

A project that’s close to my heart was the website for a local tech conference I had a chance to help with. It was a wonderful experience collaborating with that crew and under such an amazing art director. The best thing was the fact the website boosted ticket sales and the conference was sold out in two weeks. 

Over the output itself, I value the sense of ownership I had here, and the easily measurable results. That was very satisfying.

Walk us through the design process you used for a recent project (you can pick any project).

Processes are not my cup of tea. 

I always try to cut the time between paper sketch and tangible product (prototype). This means cherry picking standard methods and using only essentials — the most effective ones for the context and time frame. It tends to look chaotic in practice.

Once the creation is in hands of users, the real work starts. 

What career advice do you have for product designers just getting started?

Don’t believe the hype. 

Don’t focus on the tools. 

Understand that product design is all about people. 

Where’s the best place for folks to learn more about you or follow you?

I tweet under the pseudonym @R2k and try to deliver a tiny monthly newsletter. I always love to hear from people via email, so if that’s your thing feel free to shoot me one.

Shout out to Dave Martin for making all this happen!