Elia Maniscalco - Adventures in UX

Elia is a Senior UX Designer with a long standing passion for education. He has worked as a UX instructor at both Flatiron and RED Academy in London and originally graduated in Industrial Design. He has worked with a wide range of clients, and now works for Voxnest, a leading company providing intelligence and digital tools in the podcasting industry.

Tell us about you, where is your favourite place, who is your favourite person, and give us a fun fact about you.

"My favourite place to be is London, as it embodies the sense of possibility-behind-every-corner I live by and love. The most important person in my universe is Mattia, my partner, as he's a constant source of pride and inspiration. A fun fact about me: I love to have conversations with my dog as I can really perceive its answers to my questions!"


Why did you decide to be a designer?


"I decided to be a designer because I wanted to have an impact, and to be able to contribute to society, shaping positive habits and making everybody's life easier. My personal mission, in fact, as always been about empowering people reaching out for their dreams and live up to their ambitions, no matter what their background, history, conditions, skin colour, gender, sexual identity, age, country of origin."


How did you first get started in your career?


"I started off as an Industrial Designer as I was fascinated by how the logic of the industrial production was able to coexist with values of beauty and aesthetics. It is something that I've kept with me throughout my career as I think that the best examples of design are those that are able to "Humanise" technology and its cold logic."


Why did you end up doing what you are doing? Who was your biggest inspiration?


"For me, working just for a paycheck has never been an option: I've always had a strong point of view on the world and I've always felt the urge to leave a footprint and a concrete contribution to the evolution of society. My biggest inspirations are all those men and women who have been able to live up to their truth, no matter how disruptive of the status quo, especially those who have accomplished their goals with humility and kindness as a revolutionary act."


What is the best part of your job? What is the biggest challenge?


"People and People: I adore being able to research and look into people's lives and habits, trying to crack the code on what is that motivate them? What is that frustrate them? It is like having a VIP access on a special spyglass the let you see below the surface of everyday's routine. But dealing with people on a daily basis is also the biggest challenge: it requires strong soft skills and these last 6 years have been a gym for my ability to listen, communicate, empathise."


How has covid changed your work? What’s worse, and what’s better?


"Not much actually as my current company was already a remote one even before the pandemic: however it has made it a bit more stressful as I've been missing my "breaks around the block" to keep my body and mind moving. On the positive note, I've had plenty of time to learn new skills online, reading books and to work on my first online UX class."


How do you think we can improve diversity and inclusion in tech?


"Working on the ability to recognise cognitive biases we might not be aware of, and running away from the prejudice that younger people, women, POC, queer people are anyhow less capable of coming up with revolutionary ideas when you least expect it."


What advice would you give to someone who is starting their career?


"Hold on to your values, do not compromise your vision for a better salary as money comes and go, values are what make you unique. Stay hungry for more: more knowledge, tools, more changes, improvements, rights. Design is a political act: treat it as such, take it seriously but do not take yourself too seriously. Stay humble and appreciate feedback as a gift."

What books / websites / software tools have you read / visited / discovered recently that you would recommend?


"Mandatory readings for any young designer to understand the world we live in and our responsibilities toward it: every masterpiece of the dystopian literature ("Brave New World" by A. Huxley, "1984" by G. Orwell, "The Handmaid's Tale" by M. Atwood, to name 3);


An awesome practical reference for the UX design practice from A to Z: This is Service Design Doing."


What would you do if money was no object?


"Travel every week to a different Country: nothing enriches your perspective on the world and your life in general as much as discovering a new culture."


What are your rules to live by? What is your number one?


I just have a single rule: be honest and true to yourself. From this one, every positive decision I've made in my life comes.


Elia speaking at a conference, in the days before Covid.


Links to Elia and his work:


Behance

Medium