User Interface Designer, Dan Nobre moved from Portugal to the UK to join McLaren Applied Technologies after learning about how the company applies F1 technology to industries outside of motorsport.
Dan is now an established member of the Design team, which balances technical, user and commercial constraints to deliver products, services, strategies, interfaces, data visualisation, technology applications, manufacturing processes and communicates the brand, the vision and the values to drive through new ideas.
Q: Why did you pursue user interface design?
I have always been passionate about design, but visual communication specifically. I like industrial design, and even attended the course at University, but my strengths were always more in visual communication. I love visual psychology, drawing, usability, and technology, so that led me into visual design.
Q: What and where did you study?
I studied Visual Design at the Institute of Art, Design and Enterprise (IADE) in Lisbon, Portugal.
Q: Which website or app have you seen recently that impressed you from a UI perspective?
I have two.
Since I love drawing and collaboration, I’m addicted to the Paper app by FiftyThree. It’s easy to sketch out ideas and concepts, and has a minimalist interface theme. Also, it has a great community with whom it’s a lot of fun to share drawings and illustrations.
Secondly, the Fitbit app because of the slick interface and user experience. The data is illustrated with simple but elegant animations. The attention to detail is very impressive. I genuinely love wearable technology, so it is great that, at Applied Technologies, we’re developing and taking this type of technology to the next level in different areas of human interaction.
Q: How did you find out that Applied Technologies were recruiting for a UI designer?
I follow the McLaren companies on LinkedIn, and I saw a case study from somebody at Applied Technologies who said they are heavily recruiting engineers and designers.
Q: Why did you apply for the role?
To be honest, I didn’t know as much about Applied Technologies, as I did about McLaren Automotive and McLaren Racing, so reading the blogs and case studies gave me more information about our work in health and transport. They inspired me. Everybody spoke passionately about using technology and design to improve people’s lives, and it was the first time I had found a company that shares the same ethos as me.
Q: What was your reaction when you found out you got the job at Applied Technologies?
Incredibly happy! Right after I told my wife (who was ecstatic as well), I called my dad who is a huge racing fan, and he also loves McLaren. I felt proud that I was joining a brand that I have admired for so long.
Q: Where do you live?
Woking in Surrey. I like it, it’s not as busy as London and it’s cheaper, but it only takes around twenty-five minutes to get into central London, so for me it’s the best of both worlds. The company has flexible working spaces in central London, so I'm lucky that I can work from there too.
Q: What were your first impressions of the McLaren Technology Centre (MTC)?
It looks like something out of a science fiction film, with the maze-like corridors and glass structure.
Occasionally when I step on to the boulevard at the end of the day and I see the heritage cars, the lake and scenery around the MTC, I stop and think to myself ‘I actually made it to McLaren’.
Q: What’s it like to work in the Design Group?
Apart from being all highly skilled and focused, what struck me is the collaborative culture the team work in, and how helpful everybody is. We’re encouraged to get up and talk to people around the business.
We’re also a diverse team. We have people from different backgrounds and countries which helps because we’re diverse in our thinking based on our different experiences.
Even though I can’t talk about most of the projects yet, I know our projects will change the way people approach design in the industry. One of the best things about working in the Design Group is the expertise we have in-house, including strategists, mechanical and software engineers, industrial designers, data scientists, user experience designers and aerodynamicists. You learn something amazing every day.
It’s a fun, energetic team to work with. Plus we play music in the design lab, our own work space.
Q: Music? What’s your favourite track that is played in the design lab?
It’s mostly jazz, triphop, R&B and lounge. Usually a playlist to help us focus.
Q: Name three characteristics that you need to work in the Design Group?
Highly self-motivated, a genuine love for technology and a natural collaborator.
Q: Name one thing you have learnt while working in the Design Group?
The potential of 3D printing, especially in prototyping. I didn’t know a great deal about it before I arrived at Applied Technologies. Also, a lot about composite materials. All of this knowledge actually has more impact on designing an interface than one might think at first glance.
Q: Does the Design Group socialise outside work?
Yes, recently we went to the design museum in London and went for drinks at the pub after that. The team regularly go to bars and restaurants, so it’s a great chance to get to know each other better.
We also try to have breakfast and lunch all together, which I think is really great for team morale.
Q: What’s your favourite food in the restaurant?
Probably the pizza and pasta in the Italian section. Although I end up going for the salad section most of the time, haha.
Q: What differentiates the Design Group from other teams you have worked in?
The conversation here never starts with discussing what apps or websites need to be developed like most other companies. We discuss how projects fit into our ethos and how we can make ground-breaking improvement, not only on the technological side but also on people’s lives. It honestly feels we’re not here to make products for the sake of it, we want to be thought leaders in our field and improve lives. And, truly, that makes you eager to get to work every day.
Q: What type of person would fit in with the Design Group?
Somebody who is willing to reach out and work alongside colleagues as part of a collaborative process. You must also be incredibly passionate and committed to creating highly desirable and intelligent products in multiple industries, using research, data and technology.