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“I think at some point there won’t be “digital design”, life will just be digital”

Last month, The Team welcomed our new Digital Design Director to the fold. I took time out to find out more about Reza Kay.

Reza Kay

  • What made you want to become a digital designer?

Originally I started in print design. As a kid I was always into technology and computers so I think my move into digital was a natural progression. It was inspired by both my experience in print design, and my understanding and interest for technology. I also enjoy the fast pace and changeability that comes with digital.

  • What made you want to work for The Team?

I’ve spent most of my career working for purely digital agencies but I’ve always been partial to brand and brand exploration and what that means for digital, or what digital means for brands. When the opportunity at The Team came up I was looking to work at a more traditional branding agency. But then through subsequent interviews and chats with other agencies I realised that they were looking at digital from a different perspective, seeing it as separate entity. But The Team values design from all perspectives – seeing the need to make digital a part of the overall design process for brands, and the importance to interpret brands digitally as well as through traditional media.

  • What’s your current position and responsibilities?

Digital Design Director. Currently I’m focusing on a few key clients but eventually I will be responsible for overseeing all the digital work, as well as taking part in pitches and seeking new business.

  • What do you most enjoy about your job?

At my last agency the thing I enjoyed the most was being a mentor. Often designers have to work at speed, making it is easy to come up against a creative block. I find it really satisfying to help unblock designers, and/or provide them with that extra spark.

  • And what is the least enjoyable part?

Not being able to convince a client of an idea or way of doing or looking at things.

  • What has been your favourite digital project so far?

There are a number of projects that would fit that list for different reasons. I spent four years working on Rolex, producing all of their digital work. It was really satisfying because it gave me the chance to work on a brand that I really adored and that had sentimental value to it. I felt the work that we produced was fantastic and really spoke to the luxury lifestyle customer.

There is another piece of work that we did for Citi Bank around changing the way mortgages are perceived by the US public. There was some interesting work that I think really helped define and change the way Citi Bank used digital to communicate with their clients and customers. Being the beacon that they are, it can be hard to convince the powers that be to invest in digital especially when initially there isn’t any visible financial gain. It was satisfying to bring them around to longer term thinking around the value of digital.

  • What’s your favourite social media platform?

Instagram. I’ve been using it since it came out. I’m a visual person and I love looking at what my friends are doing and I feel with Instagram there is an attachment, more so than Facebook and other social media. Because I’m originally from Canada I have a lot of friends worldwide, so it allows me to see what they’re doing and to be in the moment with them.

  • Who do you follow on Instagram?

I use my Instagram for personal benefit, so I’m very particular about who I follow.

  • What influences your creativity?

Everything. Pop culture, culture; I think anything can have an influence. For me it’s not just visual inspiration, but emotional inspiration too; things that capture my feelings. I like to bring that emotional draw into my work.

  • Where do you draw inspiration?

That’s a tough one because everyone is slightly different. I’m always looking for inspiration from various industries and different verticals, and just trying to see if there are little nuggets that will help inspire something. Usually tools like Pinterest are good for things like that.

As a designer or a creative you never stop. There is no home time. You’re always thinking about something or being inspired by something. I don’t know what it means not to be inspired by the world around me, or the interactions I have every day.

  • What’s the last exhibition you went to in London?

Jean Paul Gaultier at the Barbican.

  • What’s your favourite website?

I use Wikipedia the most. I’m always on Wiki because I like information and I go down into this rabbit hole.

I also like Fast Company. They are a good editorial resource for everything design, creative and digital that is curated in one go.

  • Which industry peers do you like to follow?

I follow’ It’s Nice That’ –an online and offline magazine. Every six months they put on an amazing conference called ‘Here’ and I have been to two. It’s one of the most inspiring things I’ve gone to The topics are varied with a mixture of speakers that can make you laugh or cry.

  • What advice would you give for someone trying to break into the industry?

For me It’s about being collective. Collectively coming up with an idea and working together as a team. I think a lot of new designers feel it necessary to take control of everything. But personally, I think everyone is better off if everyone contributes to something.

  • What brand do you think demonstrates excellent digital design?

I still think Nike does a really good job of tying everything together – digital, print, TV, in-store experience. It’s all integrated.

  • How do you think digital design will develop in the future?

I think at some point there won’t be “digital design”, life will just be digital. The way we communicate, the way we view things; it will just be designed digital.

  • What are you most passionate about in the industry?

Judging by what I have said so far, what I enjoy most is the simplicity and clarity in digital design. I hope that in the future clients will understand that a bit more. Right now they think “let’s design a mobile app and throw everything into it”. But that’s not the point. The point is about doing one thing and doing it well – creating something that’s useful.

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