Interviews with XR Designers: Eva Kuttichová
July 01 2021
Name: Eva Kuttichova
Working At: Independent, YouTube Producer
Prior XR Designer Role: Game Designer / Product Designer / Digital Illustrator / Frontend Developer
How was your transition from traditional to XR design?
I can’t really point out my last traditional design role, since I don’t consider my traditional design career finished by any means. I am still in the process of transitioning into AR/VR, and I don’t know if even then I will be exclusively working within XR. Most of my recent projects have been quite similar to XR design, a lot of them are 3D, but I work on 2D projects as well.
I am working on a game engine, 3D rendering platform, and my last client was a robotic programming platform for huge industry robots. Most of the projects are quite unique and even though they are not fully XR focused, they are still challenging and they are helping me to move forward with the transition, which makes me happy.
There are some personal projects I created while learning and developing XR design. I made an AR music game and a VR meditation app. I tested them and enjoyed them for a bit, but never went through with the release. I was proud of them, but I think I can create something even better one day.
Starting with a bit of a cliché; I didn’t choose XR, XR chose me… haha. I came to my first XR project quite randomly. I worked on a game for which we wanted to develop an AR version, so I started learning AR. I got interested in the subject, and started educating myself on XR in general, and developing AR/VR design skills. I started working on the personal projects I mentioned and enjoyed all aspects of it a lot. It was later on when I started seeing the business potential of XR.
The past year only accelerated it. With the need to move many traditional events into the online environment, and most people realizing they don’t need to travel to work every day, the demand for new platforms increased. I am used to working remotely, but suddenly I saw all those people who were new to it and I started thinking, what if we could meet our colleagues in a VR office? Or show them our progress in 3D? What if we could have learning sessions in VR rooms with whiteboards to write on? I was fascinated with all the potential real-life implications and the options we might have in future. I want to be part of the innovative process, which naturally motivated me to start moving my career in the XR direction.
How did you start learning about XR?
I consider the start of my XR learning part a lucky coincidence. Originally, I studied to become a developer. Then in my first design job, I was working on a couple of gaming projects, which is quite a specific design niche. There are many differences between native / web design and design for game engines and therefore for Unity. I wanted to close the gap, so I decided to learn Unity. I learned the basics, got hooked, and kept learning and trying new things.
Together with a friend, we started developing a music AR game. We placed second on the Start-up Weekend (Prestige European hackathon competition). We had a lot of fun with it, and I learned a lot, too. Shortly after, I bought my first VR headset from Oculus. I realized that I can use my knowledge of coding and Unity to design things for Oculus. Since then I’ve been educating myself in XR.
What was you first professional role in XR and how did you land it?
I need to mention is that I am a freelancer. Therefore I am not actively searching for jobs or particular one-way focused roles. I have a lot of client work, so it comes in waves, mostly according to the current market needs. Most of my clients choose to work with me because I have a unique background and quite a unique skill set, enabling me to tackle specific problems. That’s how I landed my first projects related to XR design; I had the combination of leading-designer experience and knowledge of the technology. My tip is to stop underestimating personal projects. Especially in new tech, there are not too many people with extensive professional experience. Showing at least some practical skills is really helpful.
For any kind of design career, and XR design is not any different, a portfolio is a total must-have. Some people don’t realize that a portfolio not only presents past projects and practical skills, but also says a lot about personal approach, development, take on design, and professionalism. That is the same in all the areas, traditional or XR. For those reasons, I would recommend showing things you do after work as well. For AR/VR that’s especially important to show a lot of interest and be up-to-date since it’s still a quickly developing area.
I am all about future tech, so I talk about it and use it to position myself. I have a professional web portfolio and a YouTube channel. It’s a passion project, but I have been noticing it’s good for my client work as well. Thanks to YouTube, clients get a better understanding of my thinking even before we talk for the first time. I find that greatly beneficial when it comes to AR/VR because it shows my expertise. With XR, you should present a portfolio, but also continuous development and competence.
How does your XR Design work look right now?
Unfortunately, I can’t say too much about my current work projects; we all know those NDAs, right? I can only say I currently work as a lead designer, taking care of digital product strategy and the actual design. I focus on AR/VR a lot on my YouTube channel, which is way more transparent and easy for me to share.
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But generally, designer-developer collaboration in XR is quite specific. There are no set processes, or established guidelines yet. When it comes to such new technology, it’s necessary for the whole team to collaborate and have at least a general overview of what’s going on in different areas of the project.
To give a more practical answer though, there are a few tips and common steps. First, for me personally, it helps that I used to be a developer, so I can relate to the needs. You don’t necessarily need a developer background though. If you want to be sure you won’t make developers’ lives harder, you can always educate yourself a bit on their scope of work. When it comes to the hand-off, it usually includes documentation, designs in Figma, 3D Blender renders to showcase the designs, Unity prototypes… and a lot of talking. Communication truly is the key.
What was the hardest part and how did you overcome it?
Mostly working knowledge of needed tools, including Unity 3D (or Unreal Engine), Blender or any other 3D software, and Apple ARKit (Reality Composer). I also identified some gaps in physics - yup, the good old physics. It’s quite important to know how the real world actually works to be able to design realistic 3D experiences. And then, of course, some industry knowledge, such as best practices, devices and so on. These are important to follow, and luckily there are many cool resources to do so.
I take every problem as an opportunity to grow. I’m generally happy when I find something I don’t know or don’t expect, and I take those as learning opportunities. Anyway, if I had to pick something I struggled with, I guess it would be version control of Unity Projects. If you set up Git for your Unity project and then roll back, sometimes there is an error you can’t really predict. Then you need to manually clear up the files. It’s a development problem I’ve encountered a couple of times unexpectedly, and it always got me quite frustrated. I definitely need to learn more about it.
Does XR design follow the same processes as traditional UX Design? How are they different?
Every project is different, even more so when it’s about currently developing tech. That’s why you should always take time for definition in the beginning. That’s what I have been doing in my new role; making sure everything is clear and set up from the beginning. If I should compare traditional UX and XR UX design processes, I would say that the complete basics are quite similar. The biggest difference is the setting of the project, communication, involvement of different functions, and additional steps related to 3D and prototyping.
What Are Your Favorite XR Tools and Suggestions?
Wow, there’s a lot! I divided them into categories and listed them below:
Product Design (Still using)
- Figjam (new tool for user flows and whiteboard by Figma. Part of Figma, in beta version, therefore currently free. I switched from Lucidchart.)
- Google Doc (most used tool haha)
- Google sheets
- Notion (planning)
- Adobe After Effects
- Unity 3D (you can use Unreal Engine)
- Blender (you can use any 3D software)
- Reality Composer
- Reality Converter
- Gravity Sketch
- Tilt Brush
- Github Desktop (I’m lazy to write into command line haha)
Online Collaboration and Communication tools
- We Chat (VR meetings)
- Google Meets
If you gave one piece of advice to up and coming XR designers, what would it be?
Try to explore new things every day. All I do and all I know about XR came from a little spark of curiosity. I strongly believe education leads to innovation that drives human progress. It can drive your progress too. Explore different areas, try different tools. There are so many wonderful things to learn besides the expected: physics, psychology, business, marketing, development, mathematics, philosophy, chemistry, biology... And the greatest thing is that with learning any of them you realize so many unexpected connections to what you actually want to do, to your potential XR design career. You never know what skill might be useful.
When you find your sweet spot, you will get a base for that unique skill set that will help you differentiate yourself from other designers. Or other people. Maybe your end title won’t be “XR Designer”, but you will enjoy the journey, and arrive exactly where you need to be if you put in the work. And that’s the most important.
Where Can People Find You?
Many places online actually! Try to search @evakuttichova
For work, I have a web portfolio.
I also have a Youtube channel, where I talk about product design, future tech and XR, you can check it here: https://www.youtube.com/c/evakuttichova
I also have a weekly newsletter for all curious minds, where I share new learnings, resources and self-education tips. You can subscribe to in here: https://www.evakuttichova.com/resources.
Other than that, I am active on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/evakuttichova/), Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/evakuttichova/), and I occasionally write articles about design and AR/VR on Medium (https://medium.com/@evakuttichova).
I love connecting over interesting topics, coll resources, design or XR, so don’t hesitate to hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org
Did you like the interview? Who should we appear next in the XR Designer Interview series? Let me know.
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