Interactive Designer from New Zealand, with a taste for animation. Has never seen“The Lord of The Rings”.

LocationAuckland, New Zealand
DateAugust 06, 2018
The meetup

Traveling around New Zealand in winter with a camper van was pretty amazing, apart from the cold. When I arrived in Auckland to meet David, he welcomed me with a freshly made cappuccino to warm me up. I sat down with some of the Gladeye team and talked for most of the afternoon.

Listen preview
I feel like if you don't get criticized you never grow. Everyone wants you to be a better designer and a better person so they're going to be quite open and honest about how you can improve.
Chapter 01
About the designer

Can you introduce you to us and tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is David Kirschberg and I'm 25 years old. I'm an interactive designer at Gladeye in New Zealand. I've been a designer for three years now since graduating from university. I enjoy exploring new possibilities and then being able to design the world that I would like to live in. That goes hand in hand with trying to do positive projects that I think do good in the world. Outside of work I try to keep active, a lot of football, surfing and volunteer work. I love to travel as well,  I’ve noticed that everyone's kind of the same everywhere in the world: friendly. Everyone's kind of welcoming regardless of who you are and where you're from. 

How long have you been working here?

A year, it's gone by really fast. For me, I think this is the best place in the world I could be and especially for the work that I want to be doing. We have amazing people and the design teams is quite tight. There's only six of us but everyone is super friendly and team orientated. 


The cozy Gladeye's office

One year, congrats! Where did you work before Gladeye?  

I worked for a company called DDB in New Zealand, it’s a large advertising firm. I was there for about 2 years as kind of a hybrid designer doing a lot of animations and a bit of development. That was a big jump going from a huge company of 200 plus people to a really small one like Gladeye.

What was the main difference that you noticed from a big company like DDB to a small one like Gladeye? 

The amount of autonomy and trust that you're given for sure. I was used to get directions from a copywriter, an art director, a producer and so on. You had to follow what they said as well as the brand guidelines. Coming here, it's quite different. You can question the copy and half the time you get to write the copy. You get to change whatever you want and you're given a huge amount of autonomy. For my last project called “Listen to America” I did the information architecture, the user experience, the user journey flow, the UI and the animation. It's a lot especially when you're in your early twenties to be given and that's why this is such an amazing place to be at. You don't get that elsewhere, the amount of trust that is given is phenomenal. 

Our World Website


Our World Website

I'd like to take a little step back. What led you into design?

I studied design because I didn't get into history at the Auckland University. I got accepted into Design Innovation majoring in media design in Wellington. So I went down there and I absolutely loved it. I fell in love with design very quickly and I ended up teaching first year design which was a blast as well, and ever since then I've just absolutely loved it. That's all I want to do. 

What was the reason you loved History before Design? 

The historical narrative, the reasoning behind everything and learning about what happened in the world before you came to life is super interesting to me. I think if you translate that into design, it's asking yourself what can I create based off the old masters. Especially moving into digital design it's a whole new space so if there isn't that much history, you kind of want to create your own.

I can see that you are really passionate about Design. What is the thing that you like the most?

I would say it's the concepting phase. Recently a client came in with quite an interesting problem and I just love being there from the start. Being a designer, you get to be present from start to finish in a project and it’s quite humbling. I love thinking about the problems, processing them and planning for the future about how to solve them.

Let's talk about your favorite part of your job then. How do you concept things?

Often I'll be working with one of the design directors talking about ideas, how we would solve things. Writing them down, drawing them on paper, putting them on sticky notes all over the wall. And then once you've got a solid idea, we would go trough the design phase and then the animations at the end.

Can you tell us what you're working on at the moment if you have the right to say it?

At the moment I'm working on some case studies for the Listen America project. We'd like to get things up on our websites, the sooner the better, to show people what we've done. I’m trying to find the best way we can to tell this audio story in a visual form. I’m also working on Existing While Black which is an interactive editorial experience exploring the routine racism and policing that African Americans face for everyday tasks.

While Black Project


While Black Project

What does a typical day look like at Gladeye for you ?

I usually get here at 8am, I have a coffee and catch up on all the feeds that I follow. Then, I check my bookings and work on my project(s). As I said before there's a lot of freedom so no one is going to come up to you and tell you "you're doing this". It's a lot of self driven work. I always take an hour for lunch. I like to go to the gym just down the road and then come back at the office. It takes sometimes a bit more than an hour so that's why I come in a little early and stay a little late as well.

What will you say is the benefit of going to the gym during the day?

It refreshes you. If you're stressed out or foggy, you go to the gym and it's one hour where you're just using your body and you're not using your mind. You come back, you have a shower and you feel more awake, more alert; almost like it's another day. When I'm back, I can focus better. It's also good for mental health, to destress and make yourself feel good about you.

I try to be extremely open to criticism so, quite often after projects, I'll ask someone if there is anything I could have done better.

How do you keep growing as a designer?

I think it's always best to stay humble and try to acknowledge where I'm weak at and work on it. I know I'm good at certain things and weak in other areas, so I want to make sure that I solve all those problems so I'm not just a one trick person. To keep learning I try to be extremely open to criticism so, quite often after projects, I'll ask someone if there is anything I could have done better.

I feel like if you don't get criticized you never grow.

If I'm talking to a developer, I always ask if there anything I could've done better that would have made it easier for them. I feel like if you don't get criticized you never grow. Everyone wants you to be a better designer and a better person so they're going to be quite open and honest about how you can improve. I'm also reading some traditional design books and I’m always looking at design feeds on Twitter.

How being on Twitter is important to your job?

I don't think it's hugely important but I think it's a really good way of getting more inspiration and a more humanistic feel than just going on awwwards or Muzli. It's a nice and soft curated feed that you get to see that you otherwise normally wouldn't.

Do you think it's really important to build your personal brand?

To a degree, I think it depends what you want to do. One of the best designer I've ever met never designed his own website but he's a phenomenal digital designer in New Zealand. It's the same with some of the designers here, their online presence isn't great but I would follow them to the ends of the Earth, what they say and the rationality behind it, is simply amazing. This being said, I think if you want to freelance then definitely building your personal brand is part of getting more clients.

Can you tell us about the project that made you the most proud?

Yeah, it's easy. It's Listen to America. I can't see myself in the future getting a lot of work that my morals and my values aren’t completely 100 percent aligned with. Obviously I'm always going to do personal projects on the side with my friends but a project like that where I'm paid by an international client with the company supporting me and giving me all the resources possible, it’s just amazing. 

You talked a little about Twitter and Muzli and awards sites but where do you find your inspiration? 

It’s more and more on Twitter. Muzli is great because it's an aggregate website and pull from all the other things you follow. On Twitter there are some really interesting personalities you can follow that will post the kind of experiments that people put in their feed and that's the best way to start finding more and more inspiration.

Can you name a few of the cool Twitter accounts that you really enjoy?

Feint studio. I think he's is really rough and really honest, he sounds angry sometimes but really in a good way. I really love Aristide Benoist as well, he is just a real positive dude. Also the Klim Type Foundry

What do you do when you get stuck creatively?

Best thing is to kind of just walk away from it and come back. My thing is, especially if it's cold, is to make myself a cup of tea and just wrap my hands on the mug and it warms it up. Otherwise the gym is a really good way to clear your mind. You can also talk to an inanimate object and try to explain what you're trying to do and then sometimes you realize what you're saying and you can figure something out. The other most common one is just to ask someone else.

What is the best advice you received?

When I was 18 I worked in a craft bar in Wellington and I had this boss named Shane, an old Fisherman, he had broken his nose maybe six or seven times, missing a few fingers and teeth from fights.

If you're going to do a job: do it right.

I remember one time I did a really shit job of cleaning the floor, he got really angry at me and he yelled “David if you're going to do a job do it right”. I know it's not the best crafted or articulated advice but it's it's pretty true. Even if it's a banner ad for someone you don't like, if you're going to do a job: do it right. In the end, it comes down to always do your best regardless of what it is. 


Lake tekapo, New Zealand - © Robin Noguier

Chapter 02
The design industry in New Zealand

How would you describe the design education system here in New Zealand? 

I would say it's still quite young and there's still an element of an inferiority complex to the rest of the world particularly Europe and America. Obviously, that's changing as the country grows older and there's more and more people here. With the design consistently evolving and changing over time, the education is growing with it. The schools here are good, with a large focus on future thinking and innovation across all fields. 

How will you describe the design industry in New Zealand?

Being a small young country, New Zealand doesn’t have the long history and cultural provenance to draw from that other countries might possess, but the industry here is extremely driven, with a desire to be at the forefront, and willingness to do what it takes to get it done. The industry is quite small but it definitely punches above its weight. We've got some incredible talent and we do a lot with what we've got, if that makes sense.


David in his zone

I'm happy to hear that. Can you name a few New Zealand designers?

Kris Sowersby, a type designer. He owns his own independent typeface foundering in Wellington called Klim type foundry. He does a lot of fonts which are used everywhere and in the industry at the moment. I also love Marcus Brown.

Did you feel like you could become a designer here in New Zealand? 

No, not until I was older. It's not like New York or San Francisco where there's this history and this huge industry that everyone knows about. New Zealand doesn't have that, which is a blessing and a curse because there is no set mold that you have to fit in to and have to follow but also sometimes it's hard trying to do your own thing when there isn't that industry there to support you.

What will be your advice for someone that wants to become a designer to New Zealand? 

My advice would be something from a podcast I listen to every few months for a bit of perspective where Tobias Van Schneider is interviewing Brian Collins. He talks about having patience and keep doing work you want to do and people will come to you.

It's all about doing something that's proactive and different that makes you stand out amongst everyone else in the crowd.

No one will ever hand you your dream brief, it’s something you've got to chase and fight for. You have to mix your love of your craft and ambition to be able to have a constant passion to do the best work possible. As we said there isn't a huge design culture here so it's all about doing something that's proactive and different that makes you stand out amongst everyone else in the crowd. Also, I would say to just not give up because it is really hard to do internship here but once you're in you're in. It takes a lot of hard work and maybe your first job is not gonna be your dream job but you gotta keep persevering and eventually everything falls into place. Don't compare yourself to others online because you can't see all the work and late nights that they went trough to get to that level

Don't compare yourself to others online because you can't see all the work and late nights that they went trough to get to that level.

What are some good design agencies that you really like? 

I love Immersive Garden from France, Mediamonks and B-reel, Instrument, I would really love to have the opportunity to work with Stink studios on day. I also like Ueno, I love their work but also their social media presence. There is also some experimental agencies like Obscura digital. In New Zealand, there is Resn, Sons and Co and Studio South 


Reach out to David

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Final boarding call

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