Meet FITC featured speaker Irene Pereyra

Profile_Irene_220In 2008, Irene Pereyra founded the User Experience and Strategy department at Fi in New York. Extremely passionate about design she is a believer that great design starts with breaking things down to its simplest form, the straightest line from A to B. Design can always be better, and rocking the boat is always the right thing to do. She translates business requirements into intuitive interactive solutions, and guides the UX team to develop wireframes that incorporate all technical, editorial, and usability specifications of the project. She frequently has heated debates with clients on how things can be done better.

Irene will be presenting Big Redesigns, Tough Clients and a Lot of Work! and with Anton Repponen for 5 Biggest Failures at FITC Amsterdam and FITC Toronto

Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions!

1) Can you share with us your latest project?

My latest project that has gone live is Every once in a while a dream client comes along whose products you not only love, and use on a daily basis, but who inspires you to do great work. Besides being super proud of the final site, I also loved the actual time we spent working on this project. I got to spend a ton of time in one of my favorite cities, Tokyo. I got to work with an incredible team, who added things to the project I would never have considered, and I got to work with a client team who was inspiring, smart and hilarious. Best case scenario really, does not happen often.

Anyhow, the goal for the global redesign was to make the new as beautiful and intuitive as their actual products. Whether users were looking for a powerful Cintiq or a simple tablet stylus, they should be able to really experience and understand what product would be right for them without having to go into the store.

Irene Pereyra presentingWhen I start a project, I always start off by thinking about the actual framework of the experience. How do things move, interact and respond? Before I really dive into layouts I do a lot of sketches and tests on what the interaction model should be like. This process is one of the most important parts of the project in my opinion as this is where you can conceptualize what the final site will behave like, and also make sure that it doesn't feel like a brochure online. Interaction design and thinking is one of the most important things to start with on any project.

Besides directing the UX and Strategy phase, I was also heavily involved in the short video documentaries we shot for Wacom, which was really fun, and an incredible learning experience, because it allowed me to collaborate with people who have very different skills from me.

Overall, this project felt more like play than like work.

2) What do you think is the biggest challenge our industry faces right now?

I think we are heading towards another massive bubble. There are so many digital agencies, studios, start-ups, sites, apps whathaveyous, all trying to make money out of their little niche, it's really out of control. The fact that something like Snapchat can be valued at 3 billion dollars, or that the Obamacare website cost upwards of 300 million dollars to build is completely insane.

Most agencies run projects completely inefficiently and are making money with services that have absolutely no value or impact on the final product -- and with clients willing to pay, it ends up being a self-perpetuating cycle which is nearly impossible to break out of.

In my field in particular there is quite a lot of pseudo-science regarding personas and target audiences and consumer research which to be frank I have very little patience for. I want to make things that are easy to use and appear effortless, and therefore have a universal component which is very human at its center. One of my all-time favorite quotes regarding this topic is by one of my all-time favorite designers, Dieter Rams. When he was asked about doing consumer research during his time at Braun, he simply said, “Never. We wanted to change the world.” I bring up this quote in meetings with clients quite a lot. It takes a certain amount of fearlessness to not allow projects to get defined by this kind of old school marketing-y type of thinking.

3) Within your Industry, is there someone that inspires you?

I've never idolized anyone in our industry or been inspired by any one particular designer. I think it's actually quite harmful to look at other people in your field and "admire" them. The truth it, you don't know what they went through in order to make the work they did, what hurdles they had to overcome, or what opportunities were there for them which may not have been there for other people. I appreciate other people's work, but it is in no way inspiring my own creative process.

Irene Pereyra in AmsterdamMy inspiration comes from the people I work with directly. Bouncing ideas back and forth with someone equally matched or with different strengths and skills can really take a project or idea to a whole other level. I also get great inspiration from seeing more junior people in the team take an idea and just run with it, and make something new and innovative with very little direction. I'm also inspired by clients who are fearless, visionary and rocking the boat inside their own corporations, one stakeholder meeting at a time -- which is a thankless job more often than not.

Collaborating with other people who work hard, are passionate, and really care is what both inspires and humbles me.

4) If you had one superpower (or wish), what would it be?

I wish I could either clone myself or make time stop. Or not sleep I guess. No forget that, I love to sleep!

There are so many things I want to do, so many ideas I want to make happen, and there is never enough time for all of them. At the end of every single project I find myself thinking... "if only I would have had another month..."

It's tough. Life's too short.

5) If you weren't doing what you are now, what would we find you up to?

Going to culinary school. Getting a degree in product design and architecture. Studying Russian, Turkish, French and Portuguese. Traveling the world. Living in a new country every 2 years. Writing a memoir about my childhood. Learning how to sing, sew, play the drums, sharpen knives, build robots, build houses... you know, simple things!

Thanks again, Irene!