Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Dan Hill

Dan Hill

Designer, CEO (Fabrica)

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Dan Hill. I'm CEO of Fabrica, a somewhat unique communications research centre based in Treviso, Italy. It's part of the Benetton Group. I call myself a designer and urbanist, in the absence of anything better. The context of my design work is variously the Internet, cities and buildings, organisations and culture, and sometimes all of those things at once. I currently am shuttling back and forth between Treviso and Helsinki.

Before Fabrica, I've worked for Sitra, Arup, Monocle, the BBC and others, all hovering around design, media and cities.

What hardware do you use?

MacBook Air 13" and a large iMac for the office. Before that, MacBook Airs, Macbooks, MacBook Pros etc. Sometimes I've been forced to use a PC too. Every medium to big business I've been in (BBC, Arup, Sitra) I've had to lead a campaign to introduce Macs, and everywhere I've managed to do it, thus far. It's always a massive struggle, but worth fighting for. I should be on some kind of retainer from Apple, I really should. (This is actually a long-term war of attrition in terms of destroying IT departments altogether; they are no longer necessary, and generally obstructive.)

iPhone and iPad, like (almost) everyone else in this business. Not the latest of either model, as it happens. Over the years, have picked up multiple iPads (which are slowly being distributed about the family.)

At home

At the studio

I have an office at Fabrica, which is the first office I've had in two decades of professional work (I've previously always been in open-plan/studio environments.) I'm currently remodeling it a bit to make it more workshop-like. There was some Scarpa furniture in there (I think) which I've moved on. Aeron chair. Fabrica's design department are knocking up some desks, tables and shelves made by. Also Mac Mini with TV etc. And then I hope to be able to increasingly work across the campus, in our various studio spaces too.

And what software?

Adobe Creative Suite CS5 and CS6. I tend to reach for Photoshop for design work; it reflects my background as a web/graphic designer, I guess. In recent years, I've been using InDesign for vector drawing as well as layout i.e. inappropriately. But I find Illustrator doesn't come that naturally to me. I have to work at it a bit. I've used Adobe products for what seems like decades, and have a love/hate relationship with them, like everyone else I suppose. They're so complex and overwrought, but I know how Photoshop behaves, how it will tend to think and act. It's an old acquaintance that I argue with constantly.

What's odd is switching to a Finnish keyboard, which has switched the physical location of many of the shortcuts I'm used to. I'm rewiring the muscle memory, with variable success. But then I've always believed that shortcuts were not something to worry about - it's good to be slowed down; buys you time to think. Besides, I'm now on an Italian layout keyboard, which is different again.

What would be your dream setup?

I'm lucky to almost have it, actually. Perhaps a large screen at home too, in a study. Other than that, I'm not far off. I'd like all that hardware and software to get better, sure, but in terms of what's out there, I'm pretty happy. I tend to think more in terms of spaces than tools, when it comes to "dreams", thinking more of architecture, furniture, scenarios.

I often end up working in all kinds of spaces - in fact cafes and trains are probably the most productive spaces, so it's odd to focus on designing particular spaces, but I'd love to get home and office and studio working together better than the do. The cloud is beginning to be a reality, from a workflow point of view, and that enables a fluidity which is very appealing.