Design Chats

Inside the Design Team at Saatchi & Saatchi LA

4 min read
Conor O'Driscoll  •  Nov 18, 2014
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We’re tracking down InVision users at the world’s most amazing companies to discover the tools, inspirations, workspace must-haves, and philosophies behind what make them so awesome. Today, we’re talking to Tae Wan An and Charlie Hart, designers at Saatchi & Saatchi LA. We chatted with Tae and Charlie about how design acts as a bridge between humans and technology, the importance of selling your ideas, and what failure looks like to them.

Hi, Charlie and Tae! Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us. Tell us a little bit about Saatchi & Saatchi and your roles there.

Tae: Saatchi & Saatchi is a full-service global advertising agency. Here in the LA office, we’re the lead creative agency for Toyota. We create almost everything for them, from TV commercials to social media and launch campaigns. I’m an associate creative director on the Digital Enterprise group. We focus on all the digital platforms for Toyota.

Charlie: And I’m an experience designer here.

Walk us through your design process at Saatchi & Saatchi LA.

Tae: It’s a team approach with the developers, art directors, and experience designers all sitting in the same room. We’re collaborating together, thinking together, and sharing everything together. Our best ideas can come from anywhere in the team.

Prototyping is about crafting the experience, not just the design. With InVision, we can show the client an experience that’s as close to the final thing as possible.

Charlie: Every process is different, but close collaboration between the entire team is essential to our success on every project. As we move into a more agile workflow, most projects now start off with a group brainstorm that involves all parties sketching and creating light wireframes together. Tae then synthesizes those ideas into comps to build the visual structure, while our team works on creating the alternate states and defining different use-cases.

Most projects will result in more than one solution, which we resolve by creating rapid prototypes that are tested with objective users. The ability to quickly test and optimize our designs is essential to creating solutions that work best for the people who will be using them.

Tae: Our longstanding relationship with Toyota allows us to dip into their analytics and data to give us a clear understanding of the problem at hand. This helps us determine what the consumer wants, which ultimately enables us to create a great product and achieve our client’s business goals.

And how does InVision fit into that process?

Tae: Our User Experience team introduced me to InVision, and what immediately struck me was that it wasn’t just for a certain skilled set of people, but for everyone. It was remarkably intuitive, and I was able to start using it immediately. Prototyping is about crafting the experience, not just the design.Twitter Logo With InVision, we can show the client an experience that’s as close to the final thing as possible. It empowers the client to be part of the experience, instead of having it explained to them.

Technology is constantly moving forward, but it can only move as fast as humans. Design acts as the bridge between technology and humanity.

What would you consider to be the greatest failure in your career to date?

Tae: To me, failure is losing passion for what you’re doingTwitter Logo, not pushing for what you believe is right for a project, and settling for the status quo. Passion keeps you striving for the better solution, the better design experience. There is no such a thing as “done” in the design world.

Charlie: I’ve never seen you lose passion.

Tae: Sometimes, you have to fight hard to not lose it. Being around super talented people helps you stay passionate. Another way to keep your passion is through the enjoyment of selling your concepts and ideas. I’ll always try to go beyond what the client expects of us, but that will depend on the client. So, I have to constantly change my approach. Sometimes it’s a case of educating the client. Sometimes it’s a case of educating the user. I’m constantly working with my team to find the best way to sell an idea, not just from a creative standpoint, but also in terms of understanding the user and understanding the business goals.

Where do you see design and technology in the future?

Tae: That’s something my team and I have been thinking a lot about lately. We’re seeing ever more varieties of screen sizes, and we have to think about the experience across all of them. In design, the experience is growing more and more important.Twitter Logo

I also think that in the future, the lines between different types of designer will blur, even disappear.Twitter Logo There will just be The Designer, who might mix graphic design, 3D design, and interior design to create one singular experience.

The world is changing quickly. Designers should be leading the changes, not following them.

To what extent can design impact the world, do you feel?

Tae: I don’t think of design as a tool, but as a bridge. Technology can truly change the world, but not alone. It needs design to unlock its power.Twitter Logo Technology is constantly moving forward, but it can only move as fast as humans.Twitter Logo Design acts as the bridge between technology and humanity.Twitter Logo The world cannot change without design. It needs design as a bridge between the change and humanity. Design is a middle ground, a connectionTwitter Logo, and those connections can have a huge impact on the world.

Tae, you studied design in both the US and in Korea, and Charlie, you studied Film & Media, before later going back for design. How important is it, do you feel, for designers to get a formal education in design?

Tae: University is a great place to flex your creative muscles and develop fundamental design skills. It’s an opportunity you rarely get later in life. I believe that great design always comes from a great foundation.

Charlie: School is really important, but I think it’s dangerous to think there’s a period of education in your life, and then you stop learning.Twitter Logo I’m always looking to make myself more adaptable, more open to learning new things. If you just say, “I’m not a student anymore. I know what I’m doing,” you miss out on those opportunities to continue growing.

How would you define success? Do you think you’ve found it yet?

Tae: Personally, success in design is changing people’s behaviors for the better.Twitter Logo It can be the smallest, most imperceivable change, as long as it’s in the right direction. That, to me, would be success.

And finally, what advice would you give to those starting out in design?

Tae: Be a problem solver, not just a decorator.Twitter Logo Making something pretty is part of the designer’s job, but our job is really about providing visual approaches that solve a problem.

Be a visionary. The world is changing quickly. Designers should be leading the changes, not following them.Twitter Logo See where technology is going, and observe what people want.

Learn as much as you can. The designer of the future needs to explore as much as possible now.Twitter Logo Expand beyond fonts, color, and layout. Look at interior design, architecture, industrial design. Constantly observe. Constantly learn. Constantly catch up. This process never ends.Twitter Logo

Charlie: What is it Bob Dylan said? “Never think you’ve arrived, always be in a constant state of becoming.”

“The best ideas can come from anywhere in the team.”
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“Most projects result in more than one solution”
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“There is no such a thing as ‘done’ in the design world.”
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“In the future, the lines between different types of designer will blur, even disappear.”
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“Don’t think of design as a tool, but as a bridge.”
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“The world cannot change without design.”
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