Now that Flash is not popular like few years ago, it seems we lower the bar and the web is full of sites that look the same. For example, there are countless scrolling sites without any purpose but scrolling. Ok, I know those sites are cheap to produce and since this is the current trend, it’s easy to sell to clients. But we have to be honest with ourselves and dignify the work we do.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
I’m David Navarro, digital supervillain currently based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. I started working in my hometown Valencia, in the always sunny and warm mediterranean coast of Spain, leading with two awesome partners and friends our own digital studio, Pixelinglife, for 10 years. It was a great experience. We learnt from scratch how to run a business, how to deal with clients, how to improve our skills, and above all we met great people along the way. Tons of good (and also not so good) moments. I’ll never forget the day we got our first FWA SOTD for www.emmanuelrouzic.com.
In 2009, I started working as freelance creative and art director and after 1 year and a half, I started my adventure working at Tribal DDB Amsterdam as Design Director. And here I am, always trying to keep learning and having fun doing what I like the most, everything that involves design and creativity.
What do you do for inspiration?
Internet is a never ending source of inspiration, we can find almost everything there, but it’s vital to turn the computer off and enjoy the “analog world”. I try to get inspiration everywhere, talking to friends, travelling, art, books, music, even doing nothing. But I have to admit my main source of inspiration is watching movies, I watch movies almost everyday. I think the different types of storytelling, the different visual languages and the process itself of making movies is truly inspirational, and helps me a lot when I have to approach a new project.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
Twitter: It helps me to be updated on what’s going on everywhere, and keeps me in contact with my buddies in the industry.
Get the Glass: It is my favorite site ever. Having in mind this site is almost 6 years old I think it’s still being fresh and innovative. It would be site of the month, and maybe site of the year again if it was launched today.
Netflix: I had the chance of trying it, and for a movie lover like me it’s like heaven. It’s not available where I live so, if someone of Netflix is reading this interview please bring it to the Netherlands (and Spain) asap!
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
I tend to think my biggest achievement is yet to come, it keeps me active. But I’m happy looking back and see what I’ve done, the good and bad decisions. All of them in some way are great achievements, but if I have to choose one it would be, of course, meeting my partner in crime, Elena.
How do you relax or unwind?
I like to play the guitar, I like to improvise with arpeggios and let my mind and my fingers flow. It’s the best treatment for the stress. And also going for a run or swim. I need music and sports to release my demons...
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
I’m some sort of frustrated rockstar, I had a band when I was 19 for a couple of years, so picturing myself on the stage of Monsters of Rock sounds pretty good. Or maybe making movies, who knows. But one thing is sure, I cannot think of doing something not related to creativity.
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
My favorite moment is when you think you have the great idea, something that is almost perfect and then you start designing. And the hardest part is when you realize that idea wasn’t that great and you have to kill it and start over... but that’s exciting as well, isn’t it?
When I get stuck the best thing to do is doing something else, playing the guitar, going for a walk, etc. The goal is to connect to some other things, not necessarily creative, that can help you to refresh your ideas.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
What area of web design lacks the most?
Originality. Now that Flash is not popular like few years ago, it seems we lower the bar and the web is full of sites that look the same. For example, there are countless scrolling sites without any purpose but scrolling. Ok, I know those sites are cheap to produce and since this is the current trend, it’s easy to sell to clients. But we have to be honest with ourselves and dignify the work we do. Only a few exceptions do that.
I think we have to think again without creative boundaries and try to push forward the ideas we have, executing them as perfect as possible, being innovative and, of course, being always meaningful.
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
Absolutely. Winning a FWA puts you on the map of digital design. When we won the first one a few years ago at Pixelinglife, suddenly we got quite a few calls and emails. We realised we weren’t invisible anymore. That means you have to be even more demanding with yourself and try to do better work if you want to be riding the crest of the wave of digital design. Having this extra pressure is positive and helps you to improve.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
I started in webdesign without any knowledge of coding, with minimum Photoshop skills and without any sense of good taste so my very first site in flash was a monstrosity. And yes, I have it online. I’m embarrassed of sharing this here but I think you have to laugh at yourself sometimes, so enjoy this “flash masterpiece” from 2000: Observer
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
I’m not planning to write a book, at least not now. But I want to make a documentary film, it’s one of my side projects that hopefully can see the light in the upcoming months. We’ll see...
Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?
Trying to emulate Dr. Emmett Brown I’d say “Websites? where we’re going we don’t need websites!”.
Interactivity will be everywhere but It’s hard to predict how it's going to be. We all have seen concept designs like Project Glass by Google, watched movies like Minority Report or TV Series like Black Mirror. Those can help us to have a glimpse of the future.
I think the digital world is going to be perfectly integrated in the “analog world” and in our daily life. We will still need computers, tablets, smartphones, TVs, and the evolution of devices like Nike Fuelband or Nest, but everything is going to be interconnected, so the boundaries within them will be almost invisible. I can imagine digital content in the shower, kitchen, car, etc., even when you’re dreaming (This last one is scary...)
The future will be context-based not only device-based.
But, to be honest... I’m sure I’m wrong. It will be fun to review these predictions in 2022.
There is perhaps a shift in web use these days. We are seeing a decline in the purely experiential sites in flash with huge production efforts, to a relationship with clients based on tools and services, that many times have simples interfaces. How do you see that trend developing? Will Flash suffer?
Unfortunately the golden days of Flash won’t come back again. But this is not a bad thing per se. I think we’re going through a pretty exciting period pushing forward HTML5 sites, embracing technologies like webGL, creating new ways of interaction mashing up different technologies, even Flash can have its own place in the future but its use has to be redefined and, of course, the industry and users have to be receptive to it.
Technology is important but I think ideas are more relevant. Maybe I’m a romantic but I still think everything that can be imagined can be created no matter what technology you use or if it’s service design like Nike Fuelband or the new digital flash or webGL-based superproduction. Everything depends on the context... and your passion, energy and love.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
A huge amount of knowledge is accessible on the web, you can learn everything if you’re up for it. And then probably you can get a job and grow from there.
The role of design/graphic schools is also important, it’s not only about teaching history of design or how to use software, it’s about teaching how to deal with the issues of real life, creating real environments where the students can learn what’s going to happen when they start working at an agency/studio.
Both options are valid, maybe one takes a shortcut, but in both cases you need to be open and interact with people and get inspired by them, not only spend long hours studying in front of the computer.
How difficult do you find employing the right people in a world where everyone calls themselves a web designer?
I think the portfolio is not enough. Obviously is the first thing you see. You judge the book by its cover, but a candidate have to have energy and really love what he/she does. You cannot see that in a portfolio, you have to talk to them and discover that the right candidate is more than a skilled software user. I always prefer a great attitude over perfect skills.
It’s always hard to find the right candidate but there’s a lot of talent out there. I’m impressed.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
Everyday I spend at least 1 hour (sometimes more) checking twitter, design sites, reading blogs, magazines, and talking with my colleagues in the industry. In a world that is constantly evolving like digital design & creativity you have to be updated or you’re dead.
There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?
I’m looking forward to the new way of consuming television or watching movies that will come in the next years. I’d like to direct a movie or TV series with interactive content in real time. This would be a mind-blowing experience. And also make a time machine but this will take me a while I guess...
What are you excited about learning next and is there a long term challenge you are considering tackling?
I’d like to do more analog stuff, I’ll try to work more outside the computer and find the way to connect both worlds.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
There’s a quote from my favorite designer of all time, Saul Bass, that I find very inspiring and it’s what I try to say to myself every morning in front of the mirror: “I want to make beautiful things. Even if nobody cares”.
It has been a privilege, thanks very much
Oh no, the privilege has been mine. Thank you! :)