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Interview with Edoardo Rainoldi, founder of Rooki.Design

How to face and conquer challenges when working on your passion projects.

We recently talked with Edoardo Rainoldi, product designer and founder of rooki.design about his design workflow and how to face and conquer challenges whilst shipping his passion project.

👋 Edoardo! Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?

I am a product designer from Italy working at Fantasy, a human-centred design agency in San Francisco. I am also the co-founder of rooki.design, an online magazine for design students filled with free resources including articles and interviews from others in the industry.

How did you get into design, was it a single moment or was it a journey?

It’s definitely been a journey to get to where I am now. I was first introduced to the practice in 2014 and since then I’ve been working towards becoming a digital designer. During that time I’ve had 3 different internships, 2 jobs and done countless networking. Going from attending high school in Milian to studying in the UK and now, working in Silicon Valley.

What made you create rooki.design?

rooki.design landing page

When I was a student, I loved learning new skills and reading about ideas. However, I found that whilst there were many marvellous things online, I could never find a single place that would have all of these amazing resources.

I also realised that because of the current structure of the design industry there is a lot of focus on seniors and leaders, those who have already gained their experience and careers, but there wasn’t a lot aimed at those who were just starting out.

Finally, I’ve always been frustrated with paid design awards. As a student, it’s impossible to spend $50 on an entry for every project you work on and with the industry already being over-saturated, it is equally hard to make a name for yourself.

Without looking out for those like myself, there would be no next generation. So, I decided to chip in and help the next generation of designers.

That is a real dedication to the next generation of designers. How do you juggle all your responsibilities when you are both working for a company and creating content for others on rooki.design?

Dry January rooki.design
At the moment I spend my week working at Fantasy and during the weekends, I dedicate my time to rooki.design. It sounds like a great divide of time, but I also try to develop my skills for my day job on the weekends.

What does your current design workflow look like?

My workflow varies depending on the project, but as a general rule, I’ll dive straight into research as soon as I get the brief or the first contact. I really think that you can’t design for something that you aren’t an expert in (or at least fluent), so I will try to read and look around my project’s industry as much as I can before I start sketching.

Before starting any project I’ll try to detach myself from the problem so that when I come back, I can view it with ‘fresh eyes’. Sometimes my inspiration can come from a website and other times it could be from non-digital sources. Occasionally, I look at illustration books, read books about psychology and other times I cook myself an enjoyable meal before getting back into the flow. The rest comes and goes in waves: a bit of time away from the screen to get inspired and then 8 hours of straight heads-down design. And then repeat the process!

“I really think that you can’t design for something that you aren’t an expert in (or at least fluent), so I will try to read and look around my project’s industry as much as I can before I start.”

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

The biggest challenge in my career has definitely been keeping up with rooki.design. It was kind of easy in the beginning because I was off school for a month and could dedicate 100% of my time to it. But since starting at Fantasy, it’s been a challenge.

My move to San Francisco has been one of the hardest things I’ve done, life-wise. I’ve lived away from my home-pasta-country in the UK for a few years, but being on the other side of the world has been much harder. I’ve not had any time to settle in properly, as I started work straight away. It’s all been quite stressful!

Shapers rooki.design

Where do you think the design industry will take us in the future?

I think in the next couple of years, AI will influence our designs a lot. We can only push interfaces so much before we need help from bigger, more intelligent methods. I think apps will become way more personalised and offer the right amount of data, at exactly the right time. Kind of creepy, uh? Lastly, I think designers will start crafting for emotions rather than only data. There is so much competition out there that companies will have to go back to their roots and find why people should buy their products/services. Emotions can’t be bought, and that’s what companies should be looking for.

“Designers will start crafting for emotions rather than only data and emotions can’t be bought.”

How do you think online design resources have influenced design being produced today?

Online resources have influenced almost every single design that is being produced today. Most user flows and interface elements have been designed before, believe it or not. So finding some inspiration online, it’s never been easier. I always challenge myself, after getting some inspiration (for some people it works better before), to shut off any other design form and let your mind run wild. Go for a walk, and start looking at the outside world. It will inspire you even more than Dribbble.

“Go for a walk, and start looking at the outside world. It will inspire you even more than Dribbble.”

Where do you usually go to get inspired? Offline and online?

Land-book rooki.design

Predominantly online. I love scrolling through Dribbble for beautiful UI inspiration, (even though they may not be functional most of the time), Land-book for landing pages and Mobbin.design for user flows. I find other inspiration from Typewolf, Awwwards, Prototypr, Zajno Grid as I love looking at new brands and graphic design as they influence my craft.

However, when I need a big dose of inspiration for projects, I find that solo travelling is the best for me. It forces me to listen to my mind running all the time and that usually gets me good ideas (after driving me crazy for a few days). Finally, my own project, rooki.design inspires me a lot! I love re-reading the published interviews or other amazing articles my collaborators have come up with.

Whose work do you follow and admire?

Pontus Wellgraf rookie.design
Lately, I’ve been obsessed with the beautiful illustrations of Malika Favre and Jack Daly, the great web pages and interactions of Ryan Morrison and the gorgeous type from both Ben Mingo and Zhenya Rynzhuk. I love almost everything by Hey Studio and a lot of work from my colleagues at Fantasy. On top of everyone, I am inspired every day (probably because I work with him) by Pontus Wellgraf. I’ve never seen anyone take such care of the details in motion and the beautiful visuals he works on.

What is the best advice that you’ve ever been given?

I don’t remember who said this to me but it was something like “Don’t be afraid to be different”. As cheesy as it sounds, I was told this right in the middle of the process of creating my first serious portfolio (my current one, it’s outdated I know, working on it!). I was looking for a lot of inspiration online trying to emulate the students who were successful in getting an internship at a big company and I designed something that looked exactly like everyone else. At that point, I realised that I didn’t want to be like everyone. I didn’t care about being liked or not, I just wanted to do something different. And that’s what brought me to what I have today. I definitely got negative reactions for it but I’m a big believer of “any reaction is a good reaction, as long as you get one”. Don’t settle for what most people like, push the boundaries. It usually pays off.

“Don’t settle for what most people like, push the boundaries.”

Do you have any future projects that we can look out for next year?

I am actually launching rooki.design v2.0 in the next few months! It will have a lot more of everything; content, articles, free resources and even a better more accessible design. It will be the best rooki.design ever created. ← best joke!

How do I get involved with rooki.design?

I’m always looking for talented people who want to inspire the next generation of creatives. If you want to join us, reach out to me on Twitter @edoardorainoldi!

Sewer | Photographer | Writer for Marvel

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