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Design has always been about the user

May 8, 2017

At the end of March, Croatian design agency Brigada announced the promotion of Vlatka Leskovar, its product designer, to the role of creative director. We asked her about her new position, keeping up with trends in the industry and staying on top of her game. As an awarded and experienced designer, she may know a little bit about what makes a good design. So we talked about that too.

Vlatka Leskovar, creative director at Brigada. Foto: Marija Gasparović
Vlatka Leskovar, creative director at Brigada. Foto: Marija Gasparović

You’ve been in your new role for about a month now. How did you enjoy the ride so far? 

Working in Brigada has always been dynamic, fast paced and filled with everyday surprises, so there were not many changes since I have become a Creative Director. Even before my promotion I have gradually been taking over bigger responsibilities in project management anyway so everything continued to function as before actually.

Even though I’m a product designer by vocation, working in Brigada has thought me to collaborate with experts in different fields such as architects, marketing and retail specialists, psychologists and to also supervise and coordinate them if needed. So basically only the perception of my position among clients and collaborators has become more formal.

You joined Brigada in 2014. What’s the biggest lesson you learned since joining?

The most important thing I’ve learned in Brigada so far is how to work in a team, respect the deadlines and deliver a solution efficiently. Since I’m a perfectionist and sometimes preoccupied with details, everyone who knows me can say this is one lesson I am still perfecting. To tell you the truth, I used to believe that a project couldn’t be delivered in such a short notice from a concept to the final execution by implementing team organisation and systematisation. Of course, there’s an entire team of experienced people specialised in all kinds of areas behind those results.

Continuing that thought, I’ve learned how product design works as a communication tool when integrated into an entire spatial experience and how different markets react to different propositions.

And lastly, but not less important, I’ve learned to really focus on thinking that brings desired results whether it be an emotion, awareness or sales.

Today it’s just not enough to keep up with the trends in the industry – you need to be way ahead. Design is no exception. How do you stay on top of your game regarding your work? With tools, books, maybe ideas?

Fast changes enable young professionals to be better informed, to advance quickly and master knew knowledge easier than ever. Work experience matters, but creativity and education become crucial.  While still trying to read a lot, discover things online and visit professional events, I learn the most by working with clients and noticing their needs and ideas. Design has always been about the user. By truly understanding their needs and actively including the client in the process of creation, enable mutual growth and development in professional and every other way.

Interior design of corporate offices seems like one of your specialties. You worked on the Addiko bank branch offices, Booking and Infinum among others. Which projects would you like to work more on in the future? 

I don’t like to categorise projects according to their purpose. Each project has a specific issue it needs to solve for the client and that’s what I focus on. I can proudly say that our team in Brigada has become expert in adding new value to corporate office spaces, but every new project is a new challenge, whether it be a retail stand, a showroom, a restaurant, a new banking concept or a pop up store. Currently I’m involved in designing an exclusive line of Brigada furniture and this gives me much pleasure.

How do you see the role of design in communications? These days where everything moves really fast, it looks like there is no place – and obviously time – for a bad design.

There’s always bad design out there unfortunately. We live in the times of visual pollution when it’s difficult to filter through good and clear communication. The same thing bothers me in my own work that involves a lot of producing and creating new things. So I try to avoid design for design’s sake as much as i can, and to encourage a design and an idea that makes sense, influences change, and brigs something good, not only new.

Lastly (and maybe stereotipically): The best advice you’ve ever received?

Done is better than perfect – and I’m still working on that 🙂