We spoke to Justwork’s Hendrika Makilya at Mortimer House in London about her style, her sculpting and why designers should never be given a design task during the interview stage.
“When it comes to accessibility, there’s a lot of room for improvement.”
So first things first, how would you describe your style as a designer?
My style is very minimal but also strongly typographically driven (so a bit bold in some instances).
I think a lot of my style came from reading a lot of magazines, particularly type magazines from the 90s. The clarity in layout with their reliance on type has inspired a lot of work I do today.
Tell us about some of your design inspirations — who inspires you?
So the designers I really look up to tend to actually be out of the field of product design. I’ve always loved and admired the world of Jessica Walsh for example, and my all time favourite designer (this might seem cheesy) I would say David Carson — he's old school, but basically pretty badass in terms of what he’s done.
Tell us about some of your design icks?
What really, really irritates me in everyday life has to be when I see type that's not kerned properly.
Or even worse than that, when it comes to accessibility, there’s a lot of room for improvement. I think it’s a pain point that can be addressed fairly easily with a smarter use of colour for example.
I think a lot of design gets sidetracked by big ideas. And particularly in terms of accessibility, you need to be able to get the right balance between creative design and readability and that really comes down to understanding who you are designing for.
This also is part of why when it comes to UX design, nothing irritates me more than the inability to complete a task in a timely fashion due to it being designed in a way that makes everything less accessible than it needs to be.
What is the secret to being a better designer?
For me, I think it's really about actually moving away from product design and seeing what's happening out there in other industries and design networks.
I think in terms of good work, better design happens when there is a clear brief with boundaries with a clear problem statement and the metrics I’m solving for.
Should designers need to actually produce a design during the interview stage of the process?
Designers should never have to do a design task during the interview stage. They have already put a lot of time and effort into the case studies and a portfolio that the interviewer should already be aware of. Requiring additional proof of our capacity diminishes our work.
How do you know you're solving the right user needs?
It’s simple. First and foremost, they’ll tell you in the form of positive feedback from testing. Second to that is if that feedback leads us to believe that we're actually on target to exceed our metrics.
We’ve asked a lot of people about their side hustles? Do you have one?
Of course! My side hustle is sculpture, I recently took a five day workshop and am loving it. The workshop let me explore ceramics, woodworking and metals. The inspiration for me getting into it came from my Auntie, who is a ceramicist — a really good one!
It really brings me peace doing it, and allows me to explore different aspects of my creativity. It reminds me that I still have a lot of creativity and creative energy that informs what I do every day, and it also feels pretty meditative when I get into a good flow.
I’d love to spend more time doing it and maybe get a little gallery showing further down the line — something small.