Majored in Design of Visual Communication at the Superior Institute of Design (ISDi) in 2012. Since 2008, he has been working on design projects of user experience and graphic interface design.
Generally, childhood is a very decisive and influential period for the way of seeing and the work of designers. Do you think your childhood influenced your way of understanding and making design?
I was born in 1987, in Chambas, Ciego de Avila. I was always barefoot, wearing shorts and shirtless. I raised fish, went to the countryside to hunt birds and swam in the river. Sometimes, I returned home without any bird, but with the cage full of tomatoes, pumpkins or what I could find on my way.
I felt free. I was a fan of Elpidio Valdés cartoons, the show El cucumí se despierta los domingos (The cucumí wakes up on Sundays), and Los Papaloteros (The ones with the kites). I came to Havana in the middle of 6th grade, and so far, I have lived in different places. First, in Nuevo Vedado (New Vedado), then in Lawton, from there to Guanabacoa, and I finally returned to Lawton. I think that is why I have developed a capacity for adapting myself to new contexts and challenges; and yes, I believe that my childhood helped me feeling myself freer and autonomous.
After graduating and having more than four years of intense work, you could choose a project, product or service of visual communication that you would have liked to design, which would it be?
It´s a tough question. I would have loved to make the design of the“Havana World Music Festival” that Edel Morales (Mola) did. I think it is brilliant! I like the graphic he makes. I find it very attractive for animation works and audiovisual is an area I have worked with for some time and really enjoy.
On the other hand, I like the website of The New York Times since its design is clean, user friendly and accessible. The designers did a great job together with the architects of information and the other parts of the team that we cannot see. I think its visuality is interesting, and it does not lose its essence.
Sometimes, it´s very difficult to start a design project, what are the projects you like working on?
I´m interested in projects that do not make me waste my time, the ones that have sense, the ones with a solid outcome, the useful ones. Lately, I´m only selecting projects that include those criteria.
Do you usually have any ritual to start creating?
I work during the small hours wearing a t-shirt of “A Clockwork Orange” that my friend Tony gave me. I try not to search any referents in Google. Even, I’m not googling anything right now. I do not search for similar projects in the web.
Right now, I’m trying to go from the beginning to the end with what I think I want to create. Either it is all almost done, and if not it is a thought at least. It is very difficult to innovate and there are many paths and ideas previously considered. In the end, when you start from your own concept, the one you did not see in an image or a video, the outcome is authentic and it is hard for it to be like any other previously done. This does not mean that I do not have to be searching all the time the last publications on design patterns, web tendencies, news, and reports about Google, Apple, and Windows and about the way to design native apps for mobile devices.
Even when you have to start fresh from your own creativity, do you acknowledge some of the referents that have marked your vision or the way you design?
Yes, indeed. I think that all that I have seen up to now has been important. At the ISDi (Superior Institute of Design), I was enormously inspired by the work of Javier Mariscal. Many times, unconsciously, I tried to “mariscalate” my projects. Then, when I started to do Web work, Josef Müller-Brockmann impressed me with his book “Reticule system. A manual for graphic designers”, since web design takes many elements of editorial design. Something else that has marked me is typography. Not a particular typographer, but the study of the typographic art. In my work, I always give priority to well-organized elements that can be easily understood. This is why I always use legible fonts, ones to guarantee a comfortable reading and allow me offer a clear message.
Graphic design has different fields, what took you to specialize on Apps design and web products?
Before starting at the ISDi, I studied to become a technician on Informatics. I usually stay until late at the lab studying Flash and Photoshop. With those tools, I started to work on multimedia design and web sites, and eventually, I got to the design of apps for mobile devices. This was not a conscious decision; however one thing led to another. In fact, I have done television spots, created visual identities for services and products, and I have done works for printing.
In these last years, I have focused on design for mobile devices, being native apps or mobile webs. I like creating to the user a certain experience. I like to start them through a process and lead it to a successful conclusion. Then, I look at the stats of how many people use the system again, and the way they do it. In the case of web pages, you have immediate feedback and that is amusing. I´m also interested in the psychological part of the issue. I like studying people´s behavior, the way they make decisions and why. I feel more an enterprising than fixed to something, but I´m sure of my interest for the design of graphic interfaces and the user´s experience.
In a short time, apps began being important in everyday life. However, many are not functional. Could you tell us, what do you have to keep in mind when creating a good app?
The first thing to have in mind when designing any product or service is, definitely, the people who will use it. You need to know it completely, and that is something that many take lightly. You must know the market you will design for. You must keep in mind the design patterns and the use of each operating system, and the real usefulness of the app you are proposing. There are people who start making an app that does not solve real problems and at the end, it is not successful.
What is A la Mesa (At the Table)? How did this project start?
A la Mesa is the Cuban directory of restaurants. The project started at the end of 2010. It was a friend’s idea; he saw the opportunity for doing business, since at the time there were no ways to have information on the restaurants in the country and other places that offered that same kind of service. Currently, A la Mesa distributes information through different channels and with several products. There is the Web Directory, mobile apps, social networks (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google), A la Mesa 360, Bajo la Piel (Under the Skin), and weekly bulletins that started being published since May 2011; counting these last are now 194 editions.
A la Mesa 360, for instance, is a recommendation; it is a monthly selection of five places that are relevant; we make it from our site taking into account certain criteria. This is very important since we are not specialists on gastronomic issues we do not select places directly. However, after four years working with this, we feel safer with the suggestions we make. That is why we design every year Bajo la Piel; it is a publication that we use to inform the users the places that, under certain criteria, are the best of the year for us.
Why do you think this directory has been so successful?
The most important thing, it‘s in a place for people to have access to this kind of information. When you are thinking about a project, it is very important that the product has to be useful and needed; it has been the case of A la Mesa. We are happy with the outcome; we included information for 9 provinces with a total of 580 restaurants, pizza and ice-cream parlors, candy shops; for sure the figures continue to grow.
What advice would you give to a group of designers that are about to start a new project?
A few days ago I was watching a lecture by Andrew Kramer; he noted that doing something from the heart is not enough. The most important thing is to work intensely, using as much time as needed. Every day I convince myself of this. You may have an idea or a project that you really like. But if you do not keep in mind that it will be successful, if you do not do everything for achieving it, it is very likely that it might not work, that you kill it before it “being born”. I would advise to those designers to be confident in what they believe in and to dedicate lots of energy and time to that project. I would also tell them to listen to Silvio Rodríguez when he says: “dream is hand-made and without permission”.