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Q&A with Laura Helen Winn

I'm an interaction designer at Smart Design, California

I'm Laura, an interaction designer at Smart Design. We work in small teams to design for people. In my spare time, I hustle side projects centered around design education. My Form & Future interview series asks established designers about their career paths and advice for beginners. That project led me to collaborate with Jason Schwartz to make Hike, a conference for beginners. The first event is at Adobe San Francisco on April 5th, which just sold out! The second event is in Chicago this October.

On a personal note, I'm a Tennessean living in California, so now avocado lives alongside my homemade biscuits and gravy.

Software / hardware

Hardware: Macbook Pro, iPhone, desk, an ErgoErgo chair.

Software: Adobe Creative Suite, mostly Illustrator. Gmail, Google Calendar, iPhone Calendar. We use Outlook at Smart for email and calendars. What helps me design the most is making lists and doodles on paper, and talking with colleagues over whiteboard sketches.

Ideal work environment

My ideal work environment is soothing with lots of natural light. I really enjoy working around people, and balancing that with enough alone time to think and work. I moved three times last year, so I became very good at working from wherever I happen to be. As long as I'm comfortable enough to carve out my own space, I'm in a good mindset to work.

Work inspiration

My work inspiration comes from the work itself. Getting ideas is one part work, one part relaxing. You need to start working in order to discover which path to take and which ideas are worth exploring. But you also need time away for your mind to completely relax, and often you'll get ideas without trying. There's some interesting science behind this!

Designers you admire most

I admire my colleagues at Smart Design the most. Some of them are published and well-known, but most of them aren't. They don't care about being a famous designer, they care about being a good designer.