Head of Design at Around

Michal
Simkovic

MichalSimkovic (Head of Design at Around)

Michal Simkovic (musho) is a Slovak–American digital designer. He led design at multiple Y Combinator companies. Currently, he serves as the Head of Design at Around (acquired by Miro in 2022).

Berkeley, United States • June 12, 2023

What led you into design?

I've loved art since childhood. I had no idea that design could be a career, so I studied engineering. Luckily while in college, I discovered web design and also the fact that you can make a living with it. With a couple of classmates, we started a web design company. We also opened a London "branch" at my friend's rented apartment. I was very lucky to find an online community of Czech & Slovak designers (DCF) who helped me immensely with their feedback early on.

When I moved to Palo Alto 12 years ago, I discovered a similar community of designers thanks to the early Dribbble (before Zack grew its EBITDA 80x). As I've grown older, I've tried to give back and help young designers the same way. It has been almost 20 years in digital design for me, but seeing the design passion of youngsters re-ignites the fire inside me. I feed off their energy — I'm a design Dracula :)

What does a typical day look like?

In the morning I walk to school with the kids and get the Huberman's morning sunshine on my face. The rest of the morning is for meetings with folks in Europe. When Europe gets quiet, I can do some deep work.

I'm a big fan of remote & async work — I can have lunch with my wife, take the kids to the park after school, and finish work when they go to sleep.

What's your workstation setup?

Where do you go to get inspired?

Outside world mainly. Behance feed featuring other design disciplines like sculptures, fashion, photography...
I also consume too much Twitter, sometimes I find something cool there as well.

What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?

Our household recently switched to solar and EV, and even though I have mixed feelings about Mr Musk, I have to say that Tesla products are very well-designed and play nicely together.

What pieces of work are you most proud of?

From the most recent ones, it has to be the design of Around.
It was done completely in-house under very scrappy conditions.
I have to give a shout-out to Katka who fought bravely with me.

What design challenges do you face at your company?

Like everyone in the technology space, we feel the external market conditions.
And also, we have double the number of PMs than designers :)

What music do you listen to whilst designing?

Any advice for ambitious designers?

The good news is that design as a craft had the power to allow a poor kid from a third second world country to have a pretty amazing life. I'm pretty grateful for that. I hope AI would keep it that way for upcoming designers as well.

Find a community for support & feedback. Share your work early and often.
So stay hungry, stay foolish, and keep inspiring me.
And if I can be of any help, feel free to ping me on Twitter.

Anything you want to promote or plug?

No, I think I've already talked too much about myself.