Last Feb 20 we discussed Creativity & Innovation in Brazil and invited designer Everaldo Coelho, Founder of Yellowicon, to participate as speaker. He couldn’t join us but, we were able to chat about his journey as designer and his return to Brazil, after leaving his job at Apple.
BayBrazil: Tell us bit about your journey as a designer.
Everaldo: I’ve been working as a designer and/or illustrator for ages – actually, I started 1997. In 2001 I had my first experience working with a tech company in Brazil. It was called Conectiva [now Mandriva], there I created my first icons and UI elements. One of my personal projects was really well received there and thanks to internet people all around the world started using my icons on their desktops.
That project was called Crystal and sooner became beloved for the Linux community and became the default iconography system to the Linux Desktop KDE.
I left Conectiva in 2002, and started the Yellowicon studio. The Yellow icon was 100% focused on international market. We have clients in 26 different countries and we designed products for such amazing companies like, Google, Apple, AOL, Paypal, VMware, Symantec, Mozilla and many others.
In 2008 after receiving several invitations, I decided to join the Apple’s design team. I was interviewed and approved by three different teams and the one I chose later on would be called icloud. I had the opportunity of working with incredible professionals and some of my heroes. I was also lucky to be at Apple in the days right before Steve Jobs leaving the company to take care of his health. This allowed me to see him presenting a little bit of my work in the last keynote.
Then, around the end of 2011, I started to feel that it was time to return to Brazil.
BayBrazil: You made headlines when you left your job as a senior designer at Apple to join Brazilian company Movile.
Everaldo: I met Fabricio Bloisi and Eduardo Lins from Movile in a BayBrazil’s event, Brazilian Founders, in San Francisco. We had many ideas and ideals in common and I accepted to join them as Movile’s Head of UX.
In the last year I also reassumed Yellowicon in parallel.
BayBrazil: What made you to move?
Everaldo: Many things. I could list several reasons but I’m going to talk just about three. First, there was an incredible tune of ideas and ideals between what I believed and what Movile believed for the future.
Also, I love the ideal of producing technology in Brazil that has the same quality and relevance of what is produced in the Silicon Valley and in developed countries. The Yellowicon has proved is possible to produce product design with international quality in Brazil. With the power and resources of Movile we can do infinitely more. And, finally, I wanted to be closer to my family.
BayBrazil: How are you feeling about the decision now, a year and a half later?
Everaldo: That is an interesting question. About the way Brazilians relate to product design, this makes me feel lacking the perfectionist environment and authentic focus on user that I experienced in Apple and in the Valley. Perfectionism, as a matter of fact, for unknown reason, is seen as a defect in Brazil. Also there is no real search for excellence. In this matter, there is no more than a speech full of empty words. I also miss that trust in the professional’s “feeling” of the product which is very common in Silicon Valley’s companies. In Brazil nobody believes until it’s been proved with numbers. Maybe that’s why there is so many copies and little innovation coming from here.
Talking about Movile, our products are now beginning to show results and the numbers are very promising. That naturally is very exciting. This is just the beginning; we are working hard, coaching and training a winning team. Good things are coming.
BayBrazil: You grew up in Brazil, lived in London for a bit, then in Silicon Valley and back to Brazil. How difficult was it to readapt?
Everaldo: Very hard! I think coming back to Brazil was much more difficult than my adaptation from Brazil to abroad. I can’t say that I already went through this, in fact I’m still processing it.
BayBrazil: How does your experience as an entrepreneur impact your work as a designer? Is it a burden or benefit?
Everaldo: It certainly has impacted. It is amazing to see that nowadays many entrepreneurs are using “design thinking” as a method or a tool to develop new business. We would have a phenomenal gain if on the other side the designers also began to develop a little of the “business thinking.” A good experienced design is the one that meets the business expectations and the users necessities generating results for both of them.
BayBrazil: The lack of a skilled workforce is one of the top concerns of Brazilian business leaders. Is it true in graphic and icon design?
Everaldo: This is definitely true in several segments and design is one of them. There is no magic answer to the problem. Today at least 50% of my time is invested in finding and training talents.
With proper training and tools we achieved extraordinaire results in Movile. The same happened in Yellowwicon in the past, we were so successful there that we have some “ex-yellow” working now in large companies in the Valley such as Apple and others.
BayBrazil: Yes. And, there are quite a few Brazilian designers working in Silicon Valley. Two of them, from Ideo and Google, were panelists in our event a few weeks ago. What does it make a good designer?
Everaldo: As far as product design and UX are concerned, if I have to define it in one word I would say “empathy.” A good designer is able to step into someone else’s shoes, understand their problem and present an efficient solution.