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Q&A with Daniel Eden

San Francisco designer at Dropbox | Web, interaction design & typography

My name is Daniel Eden, and I’m a Designer at Dropbox. I’ve been there for just over a year. Before joining Dropbox, I was studying Digital Media Technology in Nottingham, England, and worked on a bunch of side projects—web apps and open source projects, mostly. I’ve a passion for web, interaction, and typographic design.

How did you get started in design?

I kind of fell into design, like I think most people do. When I was in high school, I was enamoured with photography, and loved tinkering in Photoshop. After a while, I realised Photoshop’s tools were used for designing websites and posters, and starting having a go at more than photo editing. It didn’t take long for me to find a great interest in web design, and within months, I was building websites for friends and family. Since then, I’ve moved more towards the developer side of things, building web apps for my own use, but I still consider myself a designer at heart. I like to think of myself as a designer enabled by code.

What are you working on now?

Right now, I’m working with the Growth team at Dropbox, helping design features to make Dropbox more useful for more people, and helping those people collaborate with one another better. Most of my work is web-based, since it’s where my experience lies, and it’s the easiest platform for us to experiment with and move quickly. Projects typically follow a similar pattern; ideas are proposed to Dropbox staff and stakeholders, then I work with a handful of other people—engineers, project managers—to design a solution for the idea. There’s a lot of iteration in Sketch, some prototyping in HTML and CSS, and some parallel engineering work to keep everything on track. We do a lot of testing and experiments at Dropbox, which for me means lots of little design projects. It’s a lot of fun!

What tools and software do you use for your work?

Most of my work happens in Sketch. I never thought I’d be doing so much work in a “design” tool—I’m really comfortable and used to working in code—but Sketch is fantastic for quickly jamming on ideas, iterating quickly, and producing great results. I still get about a 70/30 mix of design and code, doing a lot of prototyping in HTML and CSS, which mostly happens in CodePen. CodePen is great for throwing ideas around and sending code snippets to engineers. I find it way better than any other prototyping tool because often I can write production-ready code for animations—that’s something you tend not to get with typical prototyping tools.

What is your ideal work environment?

I’m fairly flexible. Anywhere I can get/make coffee, listen to some music, and have internet access is usually good enough for me. Dropbox makes a great working environment—we have a beautiful office space, three meals a day, and whatever-we-want setups for our desks.

Where are your favorite places for art?

I’m not a big gallery-goer. I actually find most of my inspiration floating around the internet, usually on Tumblr. I keep my own Tumblog for reblogging the art and design pieces I find interesting or inspiring. There are tons of galleries around San Francisco, too, so I’m never more than a stone’s throw away from local art. I’m really looking forward to MoMA reopening, too.

Who are the designers, artists you admire most?

I’m a sucker for industrial design, particularly the work of Dieter Rams. I’m completely smitten by the industrial design of companies like Muji and Vits?, and one of my favourite Design studios is Industrial Facility. I also love type design—I think my favourite foundry is Klim. Kris Sowersby, the foundry’s sole member, makes some incredible typefaces. I’m also really lucky to be surrounded by amazing designers right here at Dropbox.