Five Questions with Antonio García, Chief Innovation & Strategy Officer at TXI
Hi, Antonio! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
Hi there. I studied design broadly in school, specifically focusing on advertising design. In short, it’s “how to convince people to buy things.” I started working in an advertising agency but quickly realized it wasn't what I had imagined.
After that, I started exploring other creative and design-related areas, such as motion design and video. From there (and this is dating myself — I’ve been in the game for over 20 years), I found myself at the right place, at the right time: when people were starting to use iPhones.
As the concepts of mobile apps and interaction design started to emerge. I found myself leading a team of interaction designers at a consultancy, which firmly pushed me into the digital space. Since then, I've primarily been involved in developing digital products.
Currently, I lead a team at TXI, a product innovation firm, and for the past decade, my focus has been on building and leading teams.
Does your design process vary based on the situation or team dynamic? Or does it remain largely the same?
I believe the design process remains consistent regardless of the context. When done well, it involves gathering data, conducting research, and making informed decisions that shape strategy and design. It's about conducting small tests, and receiving evaluative feedback.
Ideally, you're working within a team or with a client who understands that version one is just the beginning. The apps and features we see on our devices today have undergone numerous iterations, changes, and evolutions. There needs to be a commitment toward continuous improvement.
However, a project might struggle to succeed if it feels like a one-off or a checkmark on the to-do list, and there’s no consideration for its future iterations.
Whether it's with an agency, a studio, or an in-house team, the fundamental goal should be to bring valuable experiences into the world. After that, differences lie in how other audiences perceive and approach the project in the long term.
The product should grow with its users and not remain stagnant as a standalone experience.
Within that design lifecycle, have you ever reached a point where what seemed like a great idea during the MVP stage starts to feel uncertain by revision three? Do you ever question if you're just digging yourself deeper into uncertainty at that point?
I've definitely experienced situations where the desired outcome wasn't well defined, and that left us questioning what we were actually working towards and why we were even building something in the first place.
In my opinion, the success or failure of a project is often determined at the very beginning: do you have a clear outcome in mind and what purpose you're trying to achieve? It's important to ask: to what end? Why should this product exist? Who is it truly for?
If you can't answer these questions, it's essential to conduct research and gain a deeper understanding before even starting the design process. This can potentially save a lot of pain, suffering, and wasted resources.
I want to talk a little bit about the interview process — what do you look for when you interview design candidates?
When evaluating talent, there are obvious things we look for, like craftsmanship, storytelling abilities, and how candidates present their work and cases.
There are also less tangible qualities we seek, such as how a person shows up in their work and their mindset and behavior during interviews. These aspects are harder to teach and are more evident in how candidates talk and relate to us as the audience or interviewers.
When interviewing candidates, some of these traits become apparent when we understand the thought process behind their design decisions and the way they communicate with clients and colleagues.
My advice to interviewees would be to approach case studies like films.
Give credit to others who contributed to the work, provide context and objectives, take us through the work's evolution, highlight pivotal moments and drama, and conclude the story, even if it's not a perfect ending. What matters is what you learned from the experience.
I'm more interested in understanding the reasoning behind design decisions than the decisions themselves. So, structuring your case studies as compelling stories and practicing the art of storytelling is essential.
Let’s shift gears a bit and talk about Dadwell, an independent media project that you founded and hosted. The tagline is “creativity x fatherhood” — can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Certainly. It explores the intersection of creativity, entrepreneurship, and being an engaged parent. I believe the discussions we have are relevant to anyone caring for a child, not just fathers.
Personally, the show is my attempt to reconcile two aspects of my identity: a creative person with professional aspirations and an involved parent to my children. I was struggling with the challenge of juggling these significant roles and dedicating enough time to both.
So, I interviewed successful men who have managed to thrive creatively and entrepreneurially while also being exemplary parents. The project started as a self-guided research endeavor, and it eventually turned into a podcast.
It was gratifying to hear from people who found value, gained insights, or felt comforted knowing they weren't alone in their struggles.
Thanks for the time, Antonio. Where can we find you online?
Published by Antonio Garcia in Design