Interview Series

YouEye Interviews: Kerem Suer, Founder and Creative Director at 34 West Co.

We’re excited to keep our interview series rolling along. Today, we’re interviewing an awesome Bay Area Creative Director, Kerem Suer of 34 West Co.

Kerem is one of Dribbble’s most-followed designers — if you haven’t gotten an opportunity to see his account, you can view it here.

We were very excited to chat with Kerem about his workflow and where he sees user experience heading in the future. Have a read of his interview after the jump.

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Kerem! We’re big fans of your work. Tell us a little bit about what you’ve been up to recently.

Well, thank you so much for having me. It’s a true pleasure. Since I started freelancing in the March of 2012, I’ve been working with small, mostly San Francisco-based startups. I like to see smaller teams try to solve big problems. And I like to integrate myself to their teams, to help them take their next steps.

It’s a fast-paced but fun task. Currently I’m working with some cool clients, including Omada HealthLivelovely and Karma.

What are three tools, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Oh man, it’s a hard question to answer since I’m a gadget maniac when it comes to these things. I don’t think I can live without a camera — currently I have a Sony RX1 — but in general, there has to be at least one camera with me at all times, since I’m an imaging freak.

I would also say my life depends on my calendar, and I’ve been using Fantastical on all my devices.

I’m also pretty into colors, not only on the web, but also in real life, outside. So I use this app that I designed and developed with a friend — Nicholas Eby — called Eyedrop.me. It lets me save colors from websites and photos.

What music is currently on heavy-rotation on your playlist?

I would be able to answer this more accurately four months ago when I had my music subscription service. I unsubscribed from all of these services and now I’m back to listener-supported online radio stations. I get to discover more songs/albums/bands this way than any other way I tried.

I can tell you this though, I listen to Radio Paradise most of the time when I’m not working. When I’m working, I try to lean towards instrumental songs, and I enjoy house/lounge music a lot. I would recommend Groove Salad and Secret Agent stations by SomaFM.

Tell us about a typical workday for you.

I have a policy: My office doesn’t open before a fresh home-brewed cup of coffee is consumed. Since my wife and I have both flexible schedules, we get to spend the morning time watching news, catching up with emails, sipping our coffee. I then take out my dog for a good walk, so she gets her exercise as well.

Once I’m back, pup takes her day nap, wifey runs her errands, I would then move to my office, which is 20 steps away from the living room. There, I check out some of the online news, Designer News, Hacker News, TechCrunch.

On Sundays, I make a weekly schedule to distribute my hours to different projects. So I don’t have to think about managing my time during the week, I sit down and work. I work until lunch time, or until when I get hungry, usually a lot earlier than lunch somehow.

I also try to fit in client meetings, on-site meetings during the day as necessary, they happen usually afternoon. I take the pup out again for another big walk; this way, I get to reset my mind between projects and keep healthy.

I pull all-nighters sometimes, especially when my wife (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit Nurse) does night shifts. When this happens, I try to match her schedule and pull an all-nighter. I can say that I got used to this too much: I don’t know how to go back now.

What advice can you pass along to new or emerging designers?

This might sound boring… Bear with me new designers! You might run into bunch of bumps along the way, but don’t let the challenges stop you. Keep pushing, keep trying and keep practicing.

Always keep your eyes open, because inspiration is everywhere, not only on the web. Every single product you use out there has been designed by someone, so try to see things, and try to understand the reasonings of some of the choices that other designers have made.

Also, always be hungry for feedback, because once you can’t take any more feedback, it’s time for you to give up design, because you’re not improving.

Who/What do you look to for inspiration for your personal and professional projects?

Inspiration comes from everywhere. Some days, I get inspired by a little flower’s colors; another day, I would be inspired by a random public transit sign.

It’s not where or what you look at, rather, it’s how you apply it to your project. I also have some secret inspiration books that I don’t share with anyone, but here’s a hint: Architecture Books! :)

How does user research play into your role at your company?

Honestly, it used to play a bigger role when I was working on one single product at a full-time gig. But once I switched to freelancing, I let my clients handle the user research unless it comes with the project.

In general, I’m a big believer of analytics and user research. It’s important to know who you are designing for, and it’s definitely better than assumptions.

What excites you the most about the future of agile user research?

I think we (users) are going through stages. I remember the days when online shopping was something considered unsafe. We adapt to newer technologies, we adapt to newer methods.

Our generation is a beta tester of technology — there are so many breakthrough things happening at the moment. We are pushing the limits, but when you think about it, we’re at the beginning of this journey.

We are all figuring things out together, and user research plays a big role in this. I’m very excited to be a part of this generation, but I also want to fast-forward about 50 years to see where we will get to.

Know someone who we should interview as part of our series? Get in touch: forrest@youeye.com!