How Web Designer Marius Ciuchete Păun Turned from Struggling-Reader to Audible-Devourer
I got to meet Marius Ciuchete Păun thanks to Robert Katai, who put us in touch. Robert has been working with Marius and introduced him to me saying something along the lines of: “one of the only designers who are able to think not just in a matter of colors and elements, but also gets involved into project’s DNA, juices what’s more beautiful out of it, and translates it into an award-worthy interface.”
How’s that for an introduction? 🙂 Marius is an award-winning product designer, co-founder and creative director of DEUX, an interaction design studio based in Vancouver, Canada.
With more than a decade of of experience in designing digital content, his work lies at the intersection of UX, interaction design and branding. He won a Webby Award – a leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet.
Marius worked with all range of companies, from startups and NGos to financial institutions, Fortune 500 brands, always seeking way to help them have a meaningful impact using design. He got to work with WordPress, Microsoft, FedEx, 5by (video discovery service), Wall Street Survivor (world’s largest online stock market simulator). He was also an integral part of the team that launched the new TechCrunch.
We talked to Marius about what he learned from his favorite books, how he increased his attention span, the books he’d recommend to future designers, and more.
What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.
When it comes to a specific business related book, I recommend “ReWork” by Jason Fried.
The book strips the concepts of entrepreneurship, management, and leadership down to the basics, leaving you with just the refreshing essentials for how to do everything right.
On the other hand, I would also like to recommend Ryan Holiday’s “Ego is the enemy“.
The lessons in this book are ageless and universally applicable to everyone. The lesson it teaches us is that the ego is part of us and we have to manage it. Life is full of ups and downs and our ego is always sitting in the dark, waiting to strike us down.
Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I struggled for years with my reading process. I had so many issues focusing, understanding what the author is trying to say, and remembering what the page I just finished was all about.
It was mission impossible for me to read a chapter in a week, because my process was “read a page, read another page, come back to the first page, remember what that it was all about”.
There was too much background noise in my mind at that time and I was having a hard time leaving my work and personal thoughts behind me and focus on the text in front of me.
Therefore, I started getting my books through Audible. I noticed my hearing sense was stronger than my visual sense. All I had to do is focus on the voice of the author.
But even so, I needed to listen 2-3 times to a book before I can remember the meaning of certain phrases. It was then, and it still is, a strong battle, which I have yet to conquer.
Back to your question: Yes there was. In fact, I can remember two separate sentences from two different books:
The first one comes from “The Design of Everyday Things” by Don Norman. It says: “great design will help people figure out what actions are possible without the need for labels or instructions”
The second one comes from “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug. It gives the following advice: “Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what’s left.”
What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)
“Brand Sense” by Martin Lindstrom. I read it back in 2005 while I was on the plane to Miami (I didn’t have issues reading a whole book during a 7 hours flight, back then!).
It made me understand how powerful brands build their audiences using the 5 senses.
What books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)
- “Just My Type” by Simon Garfield
- “Thinking with Type” by Ellen Lupton
- “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug
- “Geometry of Design” by Kimberly Elam
- “Grid Systems in Graphic Design” by Josef Müller-Brockmann
- “ReWork” by Jason Fried
These titles should be a good start, I think.
I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?
I read every 2 or 3 days. It’s only for a few hours, though. It is not the most constructive pattern, but it helps me getting back into reading for once in a while.
What do I prefer? Well, I prefer audio books. A hardcover books comes in second.
How do you make time for reading?
I feel lucky being able to use Audible. I can walk on the street and listen to a new book. But that’s not happening very often though. The only time I get to fully enjoy a book is at night, before going to sleep. The rest of the day is divided between work and family time.
Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?
I use Notes. That’s where I write all the important stuff I want to remember after I read a book. It makes it easy for me to scan through all that information, later.
How do you choose what books to read next?
Recommendations from friends or colleagues in the industry.
Do you prioritize the books recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?
A. Not really. Before I order the book, I am trying to read as many reviews I can. I prioritize them based on the importance of the subject.
B. A book recommendations guru? Well, no. There is no such a guy. However, I follow Tobias van Schneider’s recommendations from time to time.
Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?
I am now reading “Hooked” by Nir Eyal. I expect it to give me more and better insights on how to build the next level products.
Links where you can follow Marius Ciuchete Paun or find out more about his projects:
All books mentioned by Marius Ciuchete Paun in this interview:
- Rework by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson
- Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
- The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
- Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug
- Brand Sense: Sensory Secrets Behind the Stuff We Buy by Martin Lindstrom
- Just My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield
- Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton
- Geometry of Design by Kimberly Elam
- Grid Systems in Graphic Design: A Visual Communication Manual for Graphic Designers, Typographers and Three Dimensional Designers by Josef Müller-Brockmann
- Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal