Getting crafty with digital design

By Owen Derby

Date: 22 July, 2015

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As far back as I can remember, there was always a sewing machine in my house.
My mother was the creative parent; in my eyes she could make anything.

The oily scent of the old Novum sewing machine mixed with coffee filled the kitchen. I would listen to the light hum of the needle working through material for hours. I watched in awe while she made everything, from curtains and dresses to cushions and more. As a child I got the honour of threading the needle, I was told this was due to my small fingers and fantastic needle threading skills, but I would have taken any excuse to get involved.

Colouring inside the lines was never really a challenge.

At the time my prized possession was Mary Fitzgerald’s book “How do you do?” So many things to make deciding what I would make next was the biggest challenge. A few empty toilet rolls, sticky tape, paint and pipe cleaners would keep me busy for hours (colouring inside the lines was never a challenge). Everyone has that thing from their childhood that immediately brings them back to a moment they were doing something they loved.

Twenty years on I still strive to maintain those nostalgic connections whether it’s through my digital or “analog” design. A good user experience can transform how someone feels about interacting with something I have designed or created.

Even though both skills are quite different, I feel that they compliment each other. I get to apply the same techniques for design and craft in totally different situations, whether it’s designing a website for a global brand or creating a soft toy. Both must be engaging, visually appealing and a joy to use. User experience is at the core of the creative process, in both the digital and physical worlds.

Whether I’m at home or at work, i love making things!



So when I’m sitting at my workstation going through the design and flow of a mobile app or when I’m sitting at home surrounded by an explosion of fabric and paper, it brings me right back to the kitchen again. Granted, I’m a bit older now (and my needle threading skills are still fantastic), but I still get the same feeling from creating something new and exciting. The feeling from putting a smile on a client’s face when they see their website for the first time is as good as seeing a baby’s face light up when they see their new toy, even if the babies are a bit cuter!

Whether I’m at home or at work, I love making things!

Further reading:

How do you do?

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