Name: Eric Mortelmans Age: 38 Role: UI Designer Making Cake since: February 2019 Location: Antwerp, Belgium
Tell us about your workspace picture
Mostly, I work from my home office, which is a spare room in my house. Before, it was a bit of a shed to put our stuff temporarily away. After renovating it, with a nice wooden floor and a new coat of paint, I moved from my living room desk to this quieter space. I have a nice view over my garden and the F14 cycling highway.
I am a huge espresso lover. So there’s a good chance you’ll find an espresso cup on my desk. I keep my espresso machine in the kitchen downstairs. That’s a good excuse to regularly get out of my chair for some movement. The practice of brewing a nice doppio also helps me offset my mind.
The most eye-catching things are probably the big screen and the fairly large speakers. As a designer, I’ve always wanted to have lots of creative work space. This enables me to create multiple possibilities and to compare and iterate between them. Over the years, my screens have grown bigger and bigger. 😊
The speakers are – I admit – a bit too big for use on a desktop. I’ve been designing and building speakers myself since I was 16. These were one of my first projects, and I rebuilt them a few years ago with recycled materials and components. Paired with a very nice amplifier, they occasionally rock my office with some sweet music.
In the back, there’s another pair of (smaller) speakers, together with some bookshelves. The planks have been recovered from the wood workshop of my late grandfather. They turned out to be oak from Hokkaido, Japan, and are over 70 years old.
Nowadays I often share my office with my 8 year old son, who has his own desk to do his homework… or play Minecraft!
Oh yes, there’s a guitar as well, waiting for me to pick it up and play it… one day. 🎸😆
What do you do at Cake?
I am responsible for the UI Design of Cake. Which is short for User Interface Design. This means I work closely together with the other members of the product team. Peter and Sven come up with design concepts which I give a visual identity. I define the styles, colours, icons, spacing, animations and everything that adds up to a design system.
In the beginning, my job consisted mostly in creating visual concepts. Along the way, these designs got more and more functional and therefore the overall style of the app has changed a lot since the beginning. The fascinating thing about a project such as Cake, is that when you start on the design, you have no clue where the design eventually will evolve to. Several times, I have completely changed the visual aspects of the app. Colours, typography, icons, illustrations,… they have all evolved in the solid base the design system of Cake is now.
Eliot, our iOS developer, and Benoît, our android guy, develop these designs into a functional app. They are actually the first users that get to try new features in the app. Upon their experiences, we discuss where the designs need to be reworked or fine-tuned. Certain features, like for instance the categorisation of transactions have been overhauled multiple times during the course of a couple of months, to make sure we deliver a product that works how the user would want it to work. I make sure they get all the assets and visual guidelines they need, so they can make a top-notch app out of it.
Why Cake and not another company?
I met Peter, Benoît and Sven at my previous employer, where we worked in a small team on a youngster banking app. I knew Peter was involved in a new start-up (in stealth mode) and that it had something to do with finance. Peter contacted me to ask if I was interested in creating designs for “Dino”. Dino was the working title before Cake became Cake.
We met in a coffee bar in Antwerp, so he could explain to me what it was about. I immediately felt that this was a huge opportunity, and also that this would be an app I was waiting for. The idea that I could join forces in creating this entirely new digital product, from the ground up got my excited. I also knew I would join a team of highly skilled people that feel the same motivation to build the greatest banking app.
It certainly has been challenging up until now, but also rewarding. A big perk of working for Cake is the amount of appreciation I get for the work I do. This, combined with lots of motivation contributes to a very pleasant work atmosphere. I also love the high level of involvement I have in the projects, which gives me real impact and allows me to leave my mark.
Starting at Cake was also a great improvement for my work-life balance. Working from home all the time meant I could offer a lot more flexibility towards my family. In the beginning the Zoom-calls were a little getting used to, but – before corona – we had weekly gatherings with the product team which was great for variety.
There’s just one thing I sometimes miss, and that’s my high-speed bike commutes. 🚴
What’s your most memorable Cake moment?
Working for a company where everyone works from home, makes the occasions where you get to meet your colleagues in the flesh, always a bit special. Before the Corona-crisis, I really enjoyed our weekly product design meetings. I like how they were always in a relaxed and informal way, but yet very productive. Hopefully we will be able to pick up those meetings again soon.
And then there were also the company events where we all joined together for having fun and good laughs, and good food.
What’s your favorite cake?
That’s a tough one! 😅 If I really have to make a choice, I’d say that would be a tarte tatin, whether that be with apples or pears. Paired with a scoop of vanilla ice. Oooh, and maybe a little glass of Calvados on the side… 🤩
Or maybe raspberry pie?…
Any topping on the Cake?
Cake so far has been a really enriching experience for me. Not only have I learned a lot along the way, but it also stimulates me to think more about what my personal contribution to the future could be. I find it very interesting that, being this involved in the project, I get a pretty good view of what it means to build up a company from the ground up.
Due to the design experiences I gained from my job at Cake, I started to rethink the way I look at my speaker building hobby. I got new ideas, and started to approach the whole design and development process in very much the same way we do this at Cake. Although not finished yet, the results have been very satisfactory already.
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