Hi, my name is Sassy and my mission is to do design stripped down to its bare core just before it might have lost its integrity and broken down altogether. That design does not provoke for the sake of it, nor ties down to the trend of the day, and I usually find it on the threshold between what is too much and what is too little, while looking for the balance of purpose, feeling, quantity. I am currently the Lead Designer at Progress CX team. My role is to transform the web presence of strong independent products into a visually sustainable system belonging and easily recognised by the brand Progress. I specialise in visual design and UX and I’m passionate about arts, design, technology, human-centred approaches, cognitive and perception theories, and design and innovation methodologies.

Svetoslava Ilieva

Changing visual web experiences is what I did for almost a decade at Netage web agency, prior to arriving in Telerik (Progress). Growing up from designer to Creative Director I looked for the bare core design. The web experiences of banks, media channels, fashion and news outlets, hotels and even business office spaces, alongside Netage’s brand identity were born and strolled up and down my desktop canvas. Intertwining all the passion and skills in what was considered the best agency of its time felt right and it was an added pleasure to get awarded for these efforts at design contests.

All these years and until today that passion has followed me even after I switched off for the work day. After office hours I continued to pursue the bare core. Only few of designs I drew or directed found home right here on sassyworks.com

These days while I am not in front of a giant computer screen, I teach students from the Master of Arts Web Design Program at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia - the school I also hold my master’s degree from.

In the little spare time that is left, I still feed my curiosity for design as a jury member for some of the major Bulgarian web and digital design contests. I sometimes contribute for the Experts’ advice column in .Net, a monthly magazine for web. In 2009, I was a speaker at their first ever Design Day, an international forum for web design that through the years has given stage to renown names like David Carson, Artemy Lebedev, Giles Colborne, Anthony Ribot, and Leisa Reichelt.


Journey to the bare core (Manifesto)

I have always tried to create design that has been stripped down to its bare core just before it might have lost its integrity and broken down altogether. That design does not provoke for the sake of it, it does not tie down to the trend of the day, and does not come from the ego of the designer. Rather, it tells visual stories, incites attention, without overwhelming the senses. In order to do so I never stop looking for the balance of purpose, feeling, quantity. I usually find it on the threshold between what is too much and what is too little. The journey to the edge requires process, rules, and ingredients.

Complete Seclusion

The designer and the canvas carry a very intimate relationship. The love child of that relationship needs time and space to go through all its transformations freely, without interruptions or premature judgement of character. The intimacy must always be preserved and the seclusion kept.

Perpetual Sketching

I sketch everything that comes to mind. Initially that means chaos. But I am not afraid because I know the solution lies within. Only when I have made it to the extremes and I have felt, observed and have been overwhelmed by them do the balance and moderation strike. My secret is that I know how to approach the darkness of mess. I have a concept and I follow it.

Crossing the Line

To reach a design, which is just right I experiment. I experiment with what is on the canvas and where my comfort zone as a designer is. I let go of the brakes, understanding that I might get to a place I initially presume unacceptable. But this is not about me is it? It is about the bare core of design and that it may only exist solely in unforeseen and uncomfortable combinations. Naturally I am afraid of failure, mistakes and rejection on the way. But I rest assured there is a discovery hiding somewhere, an idea waiting to be found, or at least a lesson to be learned.


Design Basics

Fundamental principals of design were created from an understanding what makes sense to the eye and the mind that processes what it sees. They are not a product of a simple whimsy what might look good. The principals have been through the test of time and are still here. I adhere to them because I know they will time proof everything I draw. I never betray them because I trust them to help me create sustainability beyond current trends and modernity. Modernity can be tempting. It carries a certain flair of being here and now. But the design created today must live tomorrow as well. Therefore modernity is more a direction than a destination. So I always return to basics.

Killing Darlings

In the end, there is only one truly just right solution that represents the bare core. Many designs before can fool in their appearance, pretending to be the one. Being faithful to the brand and the audience, the designer must be ready to say no even when everything feels right. The designer must do what is most difficult - kill a darling. That seemingly great darling design must be hurdled no matter how difficult it is. Because too often the genius hides right behind. Thus I leap until I have made it to the core. The bare core of design.