I'm Kaoru Sato. I make things.

Kaoru Sato

I design user interfaces, make music and take photographs.

I currently work as a freelancer with several long term customers in the arts, transport and third sectors, predominantly focusing on the design and build of complex business information and workflow systems.

Previously, I co-founded and was creative director of The Guild, a digital design and build agency that specialised in crafting exceptional user experiences across web, mobile and virtual worlds. I have agency, consultancy and freelance creative experience going back to 1995, covering web, print, digital marketing and advertising.

I've won and been shortlisted for various awards, notably PPAi, Revolution and BIMA for my work with Microsoft and Centrica. My work on the Beck's Bier website was highly regarded by both trade and mainstream press, receiving favourable notices in New Media Age (site of the week), The Observer and The Daily Star. My weblog, the draGnet was placed among the top 50 British blogs by .net Magazine.

I write and perform music as frontwoman of post rock group The Dead Zoo, and also play in rock duo Deathline and post punk band Easterhead. I take predominantly landscape and urban photography. My work can be licensed via Getty Images Creative.

I am a transgender woman, undergoing transition. Please refer to me using she / her pronouns. Thank you.

Services

User experience

Your users' needs match your needs by ensuring that the usability and usefulness of my work is unparalleled.

Design and build

I craft excellent user interfaces from design through to build, utilising expertise gained across multiple channels.

Visual identity

The aesthetics and values of your project are in safe hands with my skill and experience building brands online.

Selected customers

Arts / media / publishing

Primary Talent International / WGSN / Pantone / BFI / Camilla Staerk CSDK / Future Classics Fashion / MM Films / Beck's Bier Art Sponsorship Programme / British Film Institute / Artrocker

Public sector / services

Independent Transport Associates (ITAL Group) / Transport for London / Home Office / Exeter City Council / West Lothian Council / OFCOM / UK Border Agency / Arts Council England (Creative Partnerships)

Third sector

Jeans for Genes and Genetic Disorders UK / British Heart Foundation / Amnesty International

White Label

Purple Crane Software / Digirati

Testimonials

Derrick Bilsby, CEO, ITAL Ltd
Kaoru is a consummate professional who has demonstrated an ability to accurately interpret the requirements of our clients. We have been working with her on various projects over the past eight years, during which time she has produced some very intuitive user interfaces that support the many workflow requirements our clients have. I would therefore, have no hesitation in recommending her to anyone who has the opportunity to work with her, as a Customer, Partner or Supplier.

— Derrick Bilsby, CEO, Independent Transport Associates Ltd. (ITAL) | Read case study

Chris Bond, Director and Co-founder, Purple Crane Software
We’ve been working with Kaoru on a regular, on-going basis now for ten years. She is very much an integral part of our team here at Purple Crane working on client projects and in-house marketing. Her creativity combined with excellent problem-solving and communication skills continues to help us provide an excellent service to our clients on many, varied projects. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Kaoru (as long as she still has enough time to continue working with us)!

— Chris Bond, Director and Co-founder Purple Crane Software | Read case study

Doron Kristal, Genetic Disorders UK
I've enjoyed building a fruitful working relationship since 2008. The work you do is always of an exceptional standard and your grasp of the practical issues for our organisation is only matched by your creativity and your clear and innovative thinking.

— Doron Kristal, Head of Marketing Operations, Genetic Disorders UK

David Armstrong, formerly Arts Council England
I can't recommend Kaoru enough. On my project (at Arts Council England) she was professional, friendly, rapid in response and able to get under the skin of our organisation to know exactly what we needed and then deliver it with minimal fuss.

— David Armstrong, Head of e-communication and digital media, Department of Energy and Climate Change

Selected work.

Real time train crew management software

sheila evo logo

ITAL is a software solutions provider with a long track record delivering productivity improvements to transport services and infrastructure providers such as rail operating companies. They bring innovative software based solutions to complex situations by utilising their deep sector knowledge in clever ways.

ITAL’s detailed knowledge of the rail industry has resulted in the Sheila Evolution Train Crew Management System, a groundbreaking solution that allows train crew managers and train service controllers real time tools to manage the movement of crews across the network and control the rescheduling and rerouting of train services, especially in response to incidents on the network that might in other circumstances lead to disruptive and lengthy delays. Allied with a mobile app used by drivers in train cabs allowing fast communication of instructions and schedule changes, Sheila aims to give sensitivity to crew management in a way that has not been possible before.

Derrick Bilsby, CEO, ITAL Ltd
Kaoru is a consummate professional who has demonstrated an ability to accurately interpret the requirements of our clients. We have been working with her on various projects over the past eight years, during which time she has produced some very intuitive user interfaces that support the many workflow requirements our clients have. I would therefore, have no hesitation in recommending her to anyone who has the opportunity to work with her, as a Customer, Partner or Supplier.

— Derrick Bilsby, CEO, Independent Transport Associates Ltd. (ITAL)

My role: UX specialist, UI designer

  • UX lead on project steering group (software architects, railway sector experts and ITAL board sponsors)
  • Turning business requirements into user requirement specifications across all the modules of the system
  • Working day to day with industry specialists and customer representatives to make sure that the user's pain points are represented and tackled in the final solution
  • Prototyping UI using Mockingbird and hand-coded web pages
  • Development of look and feel across web and mobile
  • Development build of user interface
  • Visual design of user interface elements based on ITAL and Sheila product branding
  • Working with lead developers on the web and mobile teams to ensure visual consistency and excellence and the constant checking of user experience against initial requirements

Technologies I've used

  • Authoring
    HTML5 / CSS3 / Javascript
  • Libraries
    JQuery / Bootstrap 3 / Datatables / Openstreetmaps with Leaflet.js layers
  • Bespoke development
    SVG based abstract rail network map layers with Google like panning, scrolling and other interactivity
  • Visual design / draughting
    Adobe Photoshop / Illustrator
  • Prototyping
    Mockingbird, Omnigraffle, HTML / CSS
  • Mobile
    Xamarin Forms

Relationship

  • Customer: ITAL Group (8 year relationship)
  • Software development: in-house
  • Project duration: Since April 2015, ongoing
  • Project control: Waterfall with Agile-esque sprints

Musical performance contract management software

Case study coming soon

White label UX / Design services

sheila evo logo

I can also come into your software development organisation and work, "on demand" as your in house UX / UI / visual design resource.

Purple Crane Software are a small, London-based software development comapny with whom I have a long and mutually beneficial relationship. They forego the cost of having a permanent UX / Design hire on their salary, while I get to work with clever people on some of the very interesting business tools that they develop. One of the most satisfying small projects was the design of Purple Crane's own website, where I was able to use some of my photography skills, as well as learning Umbracco, a CMS that was new to me.

Chris Bond, Director and Co-founder, Purple Crane Software
We’ve been working with Kaoru on a regular, on-going basis now for ten years. She is very much an integral part of our team here at Purple Crane working on client projects and in-house marketing. Her creativity combined with excellent problem-solving and communication skills continues to help us provide an excellent service to our clients on many, varied projects. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Kaoru (as long as she still has enough time to continue working with us)!

— Chris Bond, Director and Co-founder Purple Crane Software

Role: UX, UI, Design and points in-between

  • UX lead, UI designer and developer and visual designer where they have a project need
  • Helping with new business activity where required
  • Design and development of in-house marketing materials

Relationship

Experience,

  • 2011 - present
    • Freelance UI / UX consultant Predominant focus is on the design and build of complex business information and workflow systems. Selected customers include: ITAL Group (Independent Transport Associates Ltd.), Primary Talent International;, Genetic Disorders UK / Jeans for Genes Day, Pantone, WGSN, 11890.ie. White label services for Purple Crane Software, Digirati Ltd.
  • 2004 - 2010
    • Head of User Experience / Creative Director
      The Guild (subsequently PSP Rare Digital) Full service digital creative agency that I co-founded in 2004, specialising in work for third and public sector organisations and the arts and media sectors. We completed projects for Arts Council England (full web build), British Film Institute (digital rebrand) and more. The Guild offered consultancy, design and build, branding across web, mobile and 3D virtual worlds. The Guild became part of PSP Rare Group in 2009.
  • 2001 - 2004
    • Freelance digital strategist / creative I worked on a freelance basis in several capacities from art director for hire to strategist and consultant for organisations such as Scottish Courage breweries and Arts Council England. For The Arts Council, I helped form the digital strategy for Creative Partnerships, a revolutionary government funded programme to reinvigorate creative education in English schools. During this time, I also created digital advertising campaigns for companies such as Halifax Bank of Scotland, Vauxhall Motors and Paramount Pictures.
  • 2000 - 2001
    • Creative Director
      Chemistry Communications (now part of Publicis Groupe) Chemistry was born from a merger between TPDi (below) and Manifesto, a direct marketing agency. I was part of the management team that helped steer the new agency through its first couple of years, working with brands such as Beck’s Bier, Kronenbourg 1664, BT, Channel 4, Sony and Goldfish (Centrica). I worked closely with my counterpart, the creative director of the non-digital division to create strong synergies across channels in all the creative work we produced. Chemistry was recently acquired by Publicis Groupe.
  • 1996 - 2000
    • Designer → Senior Designer → Creative Director
      TPDi (formerly Fusion Interactive) Fusion (later rebranded TPDi) was one of the pioneering web agencies of the mid–late 90s. I was promoted through the art department to Creative Director in ’98. TPDi had a strong technical focus and we built complex content managed and CRM based websites for Microsoft, ITV, Sony Business Europe (BE) as well as retail sites for Granada Home Entertainment and rich content FMCG sites for Scottish Courage / Beck’s Bier and others. For Sony BE, I was effectively creative director of their whole B2B digital presence for a period from 1997 to 2002 (the account travelled with me through multiple agencies and beyond and I steered them successfully through two complete visual identity refreshes). Prior to this I was an intern, and later, designer at Intermedia, one of London’s first digital agencies (1995-6).
  • Higher education
    • BA (Hons) Fine Art
      Goldsmiths College, University of London

Expertise.

  • UX > UI / Conceptualisation
    • Exemplary User Experience knowledge from user requirements gathering and analysis through to design and production of Information Architecture and User Interface
    • Concept to execution skills in many media including virtual world, web, mobile, print, video and music
    • Highly developed, award-winning art direction and copywriting skills.
  • Delivery
    • Standards based authoring and scripting – HTML, CSS, Javascript (incl;luding JQuery)
    • Sketch, Axure, OmniGraffle, Mockingbird for producing prototypes, demos, IA
    • Exceptional Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Lightroom
    • JIRA, Trello, Unfuddle, Office, slack for workflow management
    • Front end implementation on CMS frameworks such as Umbracco, Drupal, Wordpress
    • Photography / retouching; hand illustration & cartooning; film-making skills – Final Cut Pro; music composition, performance, recording and production – Logic Pro.
  • Human
    • Articulate and astute, able to organise, influence and lead teams of technical and creative people
    • Experienced speaker at higher education institutions and professional events
    • Good spoken Japanese, basic written and read
    • Fast learner and (mostly) patient trainer.

Get in touch…

  Or contact me by email