This week’s Friday Five checks in with the quirky Zane Bevan, who’s the Creative Director at the Palo Alto-based Robinhood. If you’re not familiar with Robinhood, it’s the widely popular app that lets anyone trade stock without the hassle and expense of paying a fee every time they trade. The platform is incredibly simple to use thanks to Bevan’s design of the iPhone, Apple Watch, and Android apps, which have won the company Apple’s Apple Design Award and Google’s Material Design Award. Prior to Robinhood, Bevan attended Virginia Commonwealth University where he received a BFA in Graphic Design before going on to work in the print media and design agency worlds. Here, he shares five things that have shaped his life (which seems super fun and kinda makes me want to be his friend!) and successful career in design.
1. Industrial/Furniture Design
In my childhood home, my family had a Plycraft Lounge chair in our family room. I loved that thing. It was the most comfortable chair in the house, and I always made sure to get to it first. I started seeing it in movies and television shows and so I decided to do some research. From there, the doors of mid-century design were opened up to me. There is something honest about the craftsmanship that really speaks to me. I do my best to decorate my home with some of my favorite pieces, and even tried my hand at making my own.
Growing up on the East Coast, I fell in love with fall. My friends and I would walk around my neighborhood to see the trees change color with cool crisp air on our faces and warm apple cider in our bellies. Every year, my father invited the neighbors over for a haunted tour through our backyard which he called the “Spook Yard.” We spent weeks building and preparing different stations though our property, all aimed at scaring the neighborhood kids.
He taught me how to turn a bowl of grapes into a pile of eyeballs and a stack of wood into a guillotine. I think it was here that I learned that, with a little imagination and some creativity, you can shape the world around you.
I try to continue the tradition every year in the form of an annual Halloween party. I spend the months leading up to it making decorations and building props. It allows me the opportunity to get a little dirty and build something with my hands. I am able to flex some different creative muscles and look at the world a little differently.
3. Children’s Books
As a designer, I think we are constantly looking for ways to communicate an idea or concept with as little as possible. It’s this distillation of information that helps us communicate quickly and efficiently with our audience. I think this is why so many of us are drawn to children’s books from a young age. They are often short, beautiful, and contain a powerful message or life lesson.
Whenever I am in a bookstore, I always make sure I swing past the children’s section and explore the new selection. I usually end up leaving with more than one book.
4. Board Games
One way to think about design is as a puzzle. We are constantly asking “How does this type fit in with this page?” and “Where should we put this button?”. There is an incredible amount of logical and divergent thinking that is required in order to create a successful piece. This sort of problem solving is something I’ve always been drawn to, and I find it sometimes bleeding into my leisure activities. In this case, it’s in the form of board games.
One of the things my friends and I always love doing together is playing board games. We sit around, move little pawns around a board, draw cards, and create stories. It is incredible to me how much can come from just a few bits of paper, some bits of plastic, and dice.
Recently, I decided to try my hand at creating my own board game – which is proving more difficult than I originally anticipated. It’s a passion project for me, and one I expect won’t be completed for quite a while.
5. The Great Outdoors
Much of my time is spent inside looking at a computer screen so I really appreciate the time I get to spend outside. I try to go on a few camping trips each year to recharge and reflect on all matters of my life. Nothing beats laying amongst the trees, hearing, seeing, and smelling mother nature at work. If you haven’t been camping in awhile, I highly recommend it!