Art & Creative Director
Sydney - Australia
Lorenzo Bocchi works as an art & creative director at The Friendly Agency in Sydney. He was Awarded as Best UI Design of the Year & Judge at CSS Design Awards
Your Journey from a product designer to a creative director
I started my career in 2011 in Italy. No school degree, no prior experience. At the time, I was studying industrial design at university, and I realised that I was more interested in presenting the products than actually designing them. A few months before graduating, I dropped out and started looking for clients that I could create digital products for websites, logos, brochures, everything I could do to start making some money.
In the beginning, I used to work mostly with small local businesses: hotels, b&bs, restaurants and so on.
With every project I pushed myself a bit further, always doing more than I was paid to do so I could show the next client something more advanced and raise the budget little by little.
Thanks to those projects, after a couple of years, new customers started reaching out, and I had the chance to work on more exciting projects. The small businesses became big companies, and soon I began collaboration with international clients in San Francisco, Berlin and Mumbai.
What can we see in your design studio?
It’s like entering an Apple Store. :).
I have two identical setups, one in the office and one at home. The most important piece of technology is my iMac 5k. I couldn’t do any design work without it.
I like to be up to date, and every time something new comes out I usually buy it. It’s great because this Apple culture is part of the Friendly Agency too, and they always treat me very well.
You’ll also find a few products from TwelveSouth like iPhone docks, headphones stands and similar.
Since I get to spend most of my time at that desks, I like to have products I love around me. I’m also a bit of an order freak, especially when it comes to my desk – ask my colleagues 😉 – they always joke about that. I clean it every day before leaving the office.
"I always have a lot of things in my head and having a clean and ordered space to work just puts me at ease."
A Lorenzo project identity - Conceptualization to Execution?
My Design Process is pretty much the same every time. It took me years to perfect it and this is how it works:
First of all, when I start a new project I try to understand the mood. I define it with keywords then I share it with the client to be sure we share the same vision.
After that, I go through my collections on Behance and I start taking screenshots of the most relevant projects to create a Moodboard. The mood board is usually uploaded on InVision so it can easily be shared with the client and my colleagues or collaborators. At this stage, I talk the client through the mood to understand if we are on the same page.
When it comes to a web project, I think of how to design the page structure and the key elements - to help me do that I’ve created DesignBoards.io. It’s always hard to find web design visual patterns organised logically and most of the time they are out of date.
So the idea behind DesignBoards.io was to create a tool to use in the creative process to help design elements of the site.
At some point in my process, I decide if I want to use a parallax page structure, a full-screen navigation or whatever and it’s at that point that DesignBoards.io becomes essential. Then when I have the look and feel in mind and I’ve decided how to structure the website, I start thinking about the animations and interactions.
After that, it’s time to jump to the sketches. I use my Wacom Tablet iPad Pro with the Apple pencil. I like to keep it digital from the early stages. This is when I figure everything out. This is where I put all the ideas together and I actually create the project. Even when it comes to the Agency’s projects, I need to do this alone, usually from home.
"I have a simple rule: never start designing until everything has been figured out."
If I’m also the one building the front-end and I want to use a new technology, before jumping into the design, I’ll create demos to test it out.
When I’m sure everything is feasible, it’s time to design. I keep my design up–to–date on InVision constantly. I want to be able to reach my designs at all times and to add comments to them.
Once the client approves the design, it’s time to start coding! 🙂
Indispensable for you - when it comes to design tools.
Often I find myself on a train leaving feedback on my designs. I always have my iPad Pro and the Apple pencil with me.
My mind is constantly on my projects so no matter where I am, I always want to be able to write notes down or add some sketches to the board.
Recent achievements and initiatives in your design journey
I’ve also recently released the first beta of DesignBoards.io, the project I created together with Lambros Photios, director of StationFive, and the community seems to be responding very well. We’ll soon release a few major updates and a lot of new features.
I’m also giving a talk and running a workshop on SketchApp at Digital Design Days in Milan in June. I’ve got a lot going on, and I’m very excited! So I’m not only trying to grow my personal brand online but also be very active offline too.
Your re-design concepts for LinkedIn and Facebook, a trendsetter that reveals your strong hands in design & thought process. What next?
I always plan an entire year ahead in detail, plus another two. I set my long-term goals then I break them down into annual goals and decide which projects best suit my vision.
At the moment a lot is going on. I’m about to release another five websites (Friendly, Wantfeed, StationFive, DaInk, Yebo, Peter Van Alphen) by June/July, plus the next release of DesignBoards.io – www.designboards.io – I’m planning to have this completed and running by the end of the year.
With CSS Design Awards we are also working day and night to release the CSSDA v6 (stay tuned).
And this is just the first half of the year. After that, I already have an extensive list of things I want to do by the end of 2017, but I cannot say any more for now 😉
You breathe & live design. How do you maintain this momentum?
I’m obsessed with design. I think that’s the word that best describes my relationship with it.
As a former professional water polo player I consider myself very competitive and when it comes to design it’s just the same thing.
Every day I see people around the planet doing great projects and this keeps pushing me to do better every day. I see this as a healthy competition and a good way to keep raising the bar for the whole industry.
When I wake up in the morning (usually around 5:30/5:45) my first thoughts are about design and how I can make it better. I always get to work a couple of hours before going at the office.
A designer’s nightmare... stakeholders’ expectation management - your thoughts?
I think the most stressful part of this job is always presenting your idea to the client, hoping they will love it as much as you do.
"When you’re really into your design, the idea of changing it kills you. ;)"
I consider myself very lucky from this point of view because I’ve rarely had to change my designs completely. I think trying to get a thorough understanding of my clients’ needs and expectations before starting the design process has always played a significant role in this.
Your artistic outlook on life?
Besides design, I also have two big passions. I love playing the drums. Even though I can't play as much as I used to and would love to, I couldn’t live without. It really clears my mind.
I also like exploring Sydney and its surroundings with my girlfriend, to find new places and take some beautiful shots with my loyal Fuji X100S. Photography is another great passion of mine.
Design thinking around the globe - How you value collaboration in design success?
Collaboration is everything, and it’s never been easier. What matters are the skills and not your location. I always carefully choose my collaborators and where they are located has never been a problem.
Even at The Friendly Agency, there are a lot of people from different countries and with very diverse backgrounds. I think that our differences, both cultural and professional, make us better.
Nothing as exciting as being a designer - How do you share the excitement?
Being a designer is a privilege.
"The whole struggle of the creativity and the “nightmare clients” is just a joke."
There are a lot of really tough jobs out there. Most people cannot work comfortably in a chair and listen to their favourite music all day long.
Reminding yourself of how your life could be otherwise is a great way to be grateful and staying excited every day.
“Work hard, don’t give up and remember what your goals are.”