Digital product designer from Sri Lanka with a passion for motion design. Drinks one cup of tea every hour.

LocationColombo, Sri Lanka
DateJanuary 21, 2018
The meetup

In Colombo, after taking a tuk-tuk and asking directions in the streets to a few people, I finally met Lahesh near his office. He kindly welcomed me with donuts and fresh coffee. 

Listen preview
At 14 years old, I wanted to become an aerospace engineer then I lost track.
Chapter 01
About the designer

Thanks for accepting the invite, Lahesh. You’re the first Esperanto interviewee, so no pressure! Let’s begin. Could you please tell us a little about yourself? 

Hey! I’m Lahesh Kavinda from Sri Lanka. I’m a UX designer at a company called Noon, and I recently graduated from the University of Moratuwa where I studied Communication Design.I’m very into experiments. I’m a huge fan of visual effects. I'm also a tech enthusiast. I watch, read, and blog about tech-related things I see everyday. What else? Oh, I also love taking long walks alone, and I like cold weather. Yup, that’s all.


Bottanique - Hydroponic crops

You’ve recently graduated, so it should still be fresh on your mind: What led you to design? 

There were no breakthrough moments. This is a question I’ve been asked by a lot of people, but my answer to this is kind of unclear. I’d say that I always liked to experiment with things and impress people. I actually never thought I’d become a designer. When I was 14 years old, I wanted to become an aerospace engineer then I lost track.
In college, I was selected to study a design course, and I had no idea what design was at the time. After a short period of time, I started loving it. At first, I studied design theories like the golden ratio, and then I eventually realized that an open-mind was all I needed. I started experimenting a lot of different things. I worked on prints, ads, campaigns, layouts, copywriting, 3D prototyping, architecture visualization, game development, visual effects, and more.

When I was 14 years old, I wanted to become an aerospace engineer then I lost track.

After the first two years of college, I felt like I needed to specialize in something. I wanted to stop messing with everything and focus on one thing. That’s when I got introduced to the interaction design. I had to learn it from the beginning, and that's what I did. I read, watched, experimented on creating different interactions. 


Delivery App Components

It seems like you do a lot of sketching and UX design. Could you describe your work for us more in detail?

Yeah. First, I try to understand the user’s needs and insights.Then, I come up with user journeys based on how I think the users might use my product. Basically, my work is to create effective web and mobile experiences for the users. I always start with pen and paper, which is the traditional way to create what’s in my head before working digitally.Then, I produce wireframes and prototypes that lets the users interact with my design.

I can see that you're having fun just by seeing how you talk about your work. What’s your favorite part of your job(except "impress people")? 

(Laugh) Obviously, my favorite part is making things move — interactions, animations, and prototyping. It’s so much fun to make something actually move and see how people interact with it.


Framer Form / The Dark Project

We're not at your office right now, but I would like to know how your typical day look like at your office.

Yep. I usually arrive around 9:00AM, and start with eating breakfast with the team, which takes around 15 – 20 mins. I start working around 9:30AM. I first check Asana to see if I have any tasks. I work until 1:30PM, then we all stop for lunch, where we sit together and talk about tech, jokes, new games, movies, and holiday plans. After 30 – 45 mins I go back to my desk and work until 6.00pm. In the evening, I have a little break to surf around Dribbble, Behance, Product hunt and other stuff. After work, we talk about our future project plans, then I go grocery shopping or take a long walk to my apartment.

Portfolio 2019 (soon)

Can you tell me about a project that you’re most proud of?

Since I’m a newbie to the industry, I don’t have any big commercial projects to show except the one from my company that I spend most of my time working on. At the moment, I’m proud to share Classvroom, a virtual classroom with gamification features. I worked on this project while I was getting my bachelors.



Where do you find your inspiration? 

I’m a huge fan of VFX and related things. I sometimes get my inspiration from good movies. I look for interesting color palettes and compositions. Obviously, I also check websites like Dribbble, Behance, Smashing Magazine, Awwwards, Landbook, and Product Hunt because those are the places where I can find what other designers are working on.

I keep experimenting with new tools and new ideas and this help me to explore new ways to solve problems.

What do you do when you feel stuck during your creative process?

Yup, like right now? Two options there. A, I try to see how others deal with the same problem. B, I stop working on my current task and start a completely different and new task because it helps me to come back to it later with a fresh and new perspective. 


Orca / Off White

What is the best advice you have ever received? 

Hard question... The best advice I got became one of my life motto: ‘Keep experimenting and keep evolving’. 

Oh, that's great. How do you use that in your daily life? How do you keep evolving? 

Through experiments for sure. I believe research and development are the most important in a designer’s life. Basically, my life motto became “Keep Evolving” as I started to see new things in the world and design. I keep experimenting with new tools and new ideas and this help me to explore new ways to solve problems. I also learn a lot from observing my colleagues facing problems I might face in the future.


Trinquemalay, Sri Lanka - © Robin Noguier

Chapter 02
The design industry in Sri lanka

We're now going to take a step back and talk about Sri Lanka. How will you describe the design education system in your country ?

Yup... that is one important topic to discuss. Thanks for asking. Here in Sri Lanka, design education is still in the infant level. Most of the people have no idea what design actually is. I would say that we don't have a proper education system. We only have one bachelor program in the University of Moratuwa in Colombo (Department of Integrated Design) where they teach graphic design but not really UI/UX design. I think the main problem is that we’re not exposed enough to design discipline but hopefully this will change.

Here in Sri Lanka, design education is still in the infant level. Most of the people have no idea what design actually is

Interesting... I would also love to know how is the design industry currently in Sri Lanka.

I would say that the design industry in Sri Lanka is bit better than the education system. Advertising is the main and surviving element here in terms of creative/design careers. Most of the schools, diplomas and courses are narrowed towards this rather than product design or any other types of design. But, as a country, we’re still figuring out what design is and how we can make a successful career field out of it. 

Growing up in Sri Lanka, was designer a path that you thought you could take?  

Absolutely not. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve never thought of becoming a designer, as I never even knew about such a path. As a (so-called) developing nation, Sri Lanka has its own eco-system where certain careers are seen as "better.”


Lahesh always start working with pen and paper

Is Colombo a good city for creatives? 

This is a good question. With many freelancers, design companies and design startups in Colombo, it is becoming a creative hub. The bitter truth is that people who are away from the capital are not aware of the creative industry. Colombo’s design scene is evolving quickly but I wish it could expand all around the country. 

You said you didn't know you could be a designer one day. So, what would be your advice for someone that wants to become a designer in Sri Lanka?

Difficult one. As I said earlier, my story of becoming a designer is a bit weird. I did a lot of digging, self-teach, and lot more. So my advice for anyone who’s eager to become a designer is to try experimenting new things and read anything you can because here in Sri Lanka we haven’t got much resources to study design, so you need to be your own teacher. By “new things,” I mean anything regarding design — making products, trying new tools, understanding psychological factors, etc. And by “read” I mean read books, watch, and observe everything you have access to because once you become a designer you not only design products, but you architect people’s behaviors too. So, having good knowledge in your environment becomes helpful. 

Who are some of your design heroes? 

Along the way, I’ve had lot of inspirations from great designers around the world, and I'm still getting inspired by them. Paul Rand, Susan Kare, and the list goes on. I also admire Jony Ive’s works, Bill Buxton’s and some great designers of today like Tobias Van Schneider, Irene Au or Sebastian Gabriel

What are some other good design agencies in Sri Lanka? 

There are only few design agencies existing here but I'll name a few. ‘Thiken’ is a good one. LayoutIndex, Zone24x7 and SmashyDesign are also good in my opinion.  


Reach out to Lahesh

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Final boarding call

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want to go next ?

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