Meet the team

The GitHub Design Systems team builds and maintains Primer — this includes our CSS framework, style guide documentation, Octicons, numerous tools and libraries that support design and front-end, and our up-coming React.js component library.

Our team officially formed in early 2016 with just two team members, and keeps on growing, with opportunities for apprenticeships and internships in the future. Keep an eye on the GitHub careers page if you’re interested in new openings on our team.

Michelle Tilley, Software Engineer

@BinaryMuse
What drew you into design systems?

Over the decades, my primary expertise has slowly migrated from back-end development to front-end. I've always had an interest in design, and working on design systems allows me to explore that interest while continuing to leverage my expertise in front-end engineering.

Who have you learned from or been inspired by?

The constant shifts in front-end programming over the years and an intrinsic desire to learn have always been a driving factor in my own exploration of computer programming. I'm fortuante to work with a huge number of talented engineers and designers at GitHub, which is very inspiring and very rewarding.

Favorite tools

Vim, Photoshop, Blender, and a good, old-fashioned shell prompt.

Javier Díaz, Systems Designer

@edokoa
What drew you into design systems?

I think it happened naturally while working on bigger projects and having to define a source of truth. Producing and mantaining complex products is really difficult if you have to reinvent the wheel going through all the decision-making process again and again, alone or with your teammates.

Who have you learned from or been inspired by?

My biggest source of inspiration have always been video games, I really like how good games craft a small reality and then put a lot of care into making interaction feel satisfactory and self-explanatory. Apart from that, I think there are lots of places inspiration can be drawn from: Music, furniture and interior design, photography, movies...

Favorite tools

Photoshop, Figma, Maya, Unity, VS Code, PocketCasts, CityMapper.

Inayaili León, Design Producer

@yaili
What drew you into design systems?

I like it when things around me are organized. I like writing, and the process of refining an idea into words. I like guidelines, style guides, patterns, HTML, and CSS. I like to have several projects on at once. I like planning. I like to work smart, not hard. When you add all of these you get… design systems!

Who have you learned from or been inspired by?

More than anything, the people I’ve worked with over the years. I learned something from everyone: being generous with my knowledge, being serious about research, work discipline, balancing family life and work, speaking up, picking my battles, and everything good that I know. Also: the conversations and connections I made during the early years of Design Twitter — still going strong.

Favorite tools

Too many! Things, Simplenote, iA Writer, Dictionary, VS Code, xScope, notebooks, Pinboard, Overcast, spreadsheets, and Earl Grey.

Joel Hawksley, Software Engineer

@joelhawksley
What drew you into design systems?

While working in numerous Rails codebases over the years, I kept seeing the same structural issues in the view layer as applications grew in size. I came up with an idea to bring component-driven design patterns to Rails, and am thrilled to be pursuing it for the purpose of building out our design systems at GitHub.

Who have you learned from or been inspired by?

My mom is a professor in visual communication, so I’ve been in the design world since before I could walk. I learned how to be a software engineer from my friend Aaron Snyder, who took me as his apprentice after I left the newspaper industry. These days I learn a lot from my coworkers, especially tenderlove and seejohnrun.

Favorite tools

VS Code, Todoist, Spotify

Aurora Pleguezuelo, Systems Designer

@auareyou
What drew you into design systems?

A few years back, I was an apprentice for a freelance product designer and my main responsibility was to document his designs and help his customers understand how to continue on with our designs. I loved extracting patterns and spending time writing documentation so every chance I had at any job after that I either participated or initiated the design systems efforts.

Who have you learned from or been inspired by?

I'll start with a lesson from a book. Mark Manson helped me stop looking for shortcuts. Javier Cañada pushed me to think about design outside technology and be inspired by history, literature, philosophy... Sasha Prokhorova taught me that design is not just about craft. She made me a better professional along with some others who I consider my mentors like David la Iglesia, Adrian Mato or Emily Hayman. From Yaili I learned to love design systems documentation and how to show others the value of it. Then Nathan Curtis content became the manual on how to write and present documentation. Yesenia helped me see how design systems can be functional, effective and still convey a brand's personality. The most important lesson, be it design or human level is that communities help us grow and learn from one another. This is why I'm so inspired by people like Jina, Mina, Diana or Stu who are passionate thought leaders doing so much for the design and development industry. Also Zendaya. What a great time to be alive!

Favorite tools

Figma, Things, SPREADSHEETS!, Notion, Emojis, Moleskine journals and Fujifilm X-H1.

Vinicius Depizzol, Systems Designer

@vdepizzol
What drew you into design systems?

Throughout the various roles I’ve had in product design, creating good and cohesive experiences for people was always what truly motivated me to be in this area. As I started working in larger projects, style guides, design patterns and design systems became essential to scale cohesion, and ultimately part of my life.

Who have you learned from or been inspired by?

I’ve been lucky to encounter and collaborate with immensely talented people where I’ve been — that has shaped me more than I can imagine. Over the years, stumbling upon Bruno Bergher, Lulu LaMer, Andrew Branch, among many many others, have shown me people who are eager to learn, and above all open to being wrong (even if they’re right most of the time).

I like how Yuval Noah Harari has helped me (and an entire generation) to see the big picture, and I have always been inspired by designers who spread beyond their areas like Frank Chimero and Rasmus Andersson do.

Favorite tools

Pen and paper, Figma, photography camera

Cole Bemis, Design Systems Engineer

@colebemis
What drew you into design systems?

While studying computer science, I developed a passion for design patterns and abstractions. I especially enjoyed learning about programming languages and automata theory. I'm excited about the potential to apply what I've learned to create strong visual languages. I also enjoy building tools that make it easier for designers and developers (like me) to create better user experiences.

Who have you learned from or been inspired by?

Too many to list! I would not be in this field if it weren't for my mom, who introduced me to HTML, CSS and JavaScript at a young age. Tom Falkner, Ben Waldron, Tyler Deitz, Tony Gines, Brett Spradling, Jake Swenson and Sam Ng have all been incredible mentors. And I'm constantly inspired by the work of Brent Jackson, Adam Morse, James, Max Stoiber, Brian Lovin, Bryn Jackson, Steve Schoger, Sara Soueidan, Dan Abramov and so many more.

Favorite tools

CodeSandbox, Figma, GitHub, React, Slack, VS Code

Simon Lüthi, Systems Designer

@simurai
What drew you into design systems?

Ok, this might sound weird, but I really enjoy looking at UIs. There is something satisfying, seeing a bunch of components getting thrown on a page that fit well together, forming a balanced interface for users to interact with. I also enjoy building UIs and helping others to do the same.

Who have you learned from or been inspired by?

Thinking back, seeing the CSS Zen Garden was really inspiring. Also the CSS "demo scene" found in places like CodePen is nuts. Admittedly, not always practical, but fun to check out.

I also got inspired and learned a lot from methodologies like OOCSS, SMACSS, BEM, SUIT and nowadays CSS-in-JS. The "how to organize CSS" is a challenging, but also interesting problem to solve.

Favorite tools

DevTools, Atom, Figma, Sketch, iA Writer, LICEcap, Things, coffee, headphones.

Ash Guillaume, Graphic Designer

@ashygee
What drew you into design systems?

I came into design systems very organically. When I began my career in the agency world, I worked within constraints of branding and style guidelines of our various clients. At the time I didn't fully recognize these guidelines as what we now refer to as design systems. As my career continued to grow I noticed that I began to be far more interested in how various companies/brands packaged the many pieces that made up their brand and/or products. I love how design systems bring together all the pieces in order to unleash endless creativity but still maintain the necessary constraints.

Who have you learned from or been inspired by?

I get a lot of my inspiration from the community I've built via Dribbble. A few of my favorites are the dynamic duo that makes of TheLittleLabs, Camilo and Aradhana, the illustration work by Enisaurus, and Kendrick Kidd.

When I first started my career, Frank Chimero was a huge inspiration. His book, The Shape of Design, really helped to form my philosophy and approach to problems and how to cultivate a design process. Along with that but not design related, Jason Fried has been a great inspiration to how I approach work. His book (written alongside David Heinemeier Hansson) Rework still is the best, no nonsense, business book I've ever read.

Favorite tools

Figma, Atom, Keynote, Bear Notes, Spark Mail, Spotify

Emily Brick, Systems Designer

@emilybrick
What drew you into design systems?

I was initially drawn to design systems while working on a small team, where we were stretched thin and struggling to keep the front-end and user experience afloat, recreating components and patterns by hand over and over again. We needed consistency, stability, a bridge between designers and developers, and a more efficient workflow. Once we put a design language and system in place, I was sold on the value. I find it fascinating how many approaches to design systems there are out there, and how different they can be depending on the individual product and teams’ needs.

Who have you learned from or been inspired by?

Inge Druckrey and Edward Tufte inspired me to get into design, and introduced me to the world of typographic and informational systems (simultaneously). This talk by Bret Victor helped me feel less alone when I was starting out in the industry; at a time when code and design weren't yet openly intertwined. I’m also inspired by the folks behind designbetter.co for making knowledge around design systems transparent and available to everyone. Additionally, and there are too many people to name, people like Una Kravetz, Sarah Drasner, Tim Holman, and Val Head are always on my radar, keeping the internet weird and creative and continuously pushing the boundaries of what's possible.

Favorite tools

Atom, Figma, Bear, Dash, Slack

Emily Plummer, Design Systems Engineer

@emplums
What drew you into design systems?

Up until now, I've been mostly working Front End Engineering roles, but I've always been interested in finding something that was a good mix between Front End and Design. Design Systems feels like the perfect hybrid between the two!

I'm also really into accessibility, and I found that having a design system that enforces accessible standards is one of the easiest ways to make progress on getting a team on-boarded with accessibility best practices and getting those practices implemented in production

I'm super excited about our React component library that we've been working on over the past few months!

Who have you learned from or been inspired by?

Some people & projects that have been inspiring to me are: are Nicole Sullivan, Vaidehi Joshi's BaseCS blog & , Mina Markham's slay.sh, Una Kravets, Suz Hinton's talk about accessibility at Dinosaur.js, Marcy Sutton, and Anil Dash.

Favorite tools

Figma, Notion (for taking notes & planning), React

Jon Rohan, Systems Designer

@jonrohan
What drew you into design systems?

I have had a fascination with front end engineering and UI for all of my career. Early on at GitHub I recognized the need to organize our code into reusable components. When the team formalized I had to be involved.

Who have you learned from or been inspired by?

Both past and present I have to acknowledge that Nicole Sullivan has been profoundly influential in the way I front-end and write CSS. When she introduced concepts of OOCSS it brought me from thinking very linearly about CSS to a whole new range of systems thinking.

Favorite tools

Atom, Bash/Shell, Figma, GitHub, iTerm, Javascript, MacBook Pro, Things

Diana Mounter, Design Infrastructure Manager

@broccolini
What drew you into design systems?

I was drawn to design systems for many reasons—the opportunity to improve design and development workflow efficiency; the potential benefits well-design systems can bring to the user experience; I like to bring order to chaos and enjoy working at the intersection of design and code. I also love that there is still so much to learn in the field and really enjoy the passion of the community behind design systems.

Who have you learned from or been inspired by?

I don't have room on this webpage to list everyone! SMACSS, The Art and Science of CSS, and Veerle Pieters were some early influences. OOCSS by Nicole Sullivan, CSS Wizardary, Basscss, Tachyons, and BEM influenced my approach to CSS architecture. More recently I've been inspired by Rune Madsen's Programming Design Systems, Compositor, Dan Abramov, Sebastian Markbage, and so many design and code wonder women like Mandy Kerr, Marcy Sutton, Lea Verou, Mina Markham, Sarah Drasner and Jina Anne.

Favorite tools

Hyper, Atom, Figma, MDN, and Quip

Past interns and apprentices

Zain Khoja, Systems Designer Intern

@zainkho
What drew you into design systems?

I love organization and lists. I have a lists for things from movies to boba tea orders. I like to bring this into my design work as well, creating components and cohesiveness across platforms to make it easier for people to create great products.

Who have you learned from or been inspired by?

When I first began learning about design, I was inspired by the people who contributed back to the community by teaching and opening up to students. Resources like Students Who Design and Design Details helped me figure out how I wanted to make a positive impact in tech.

More recently, I've been inspired by design agencies and companies that are testing the boundaries of design outside of what is accepted as 'common pratice'. I enjoy seeing unique animation and motion used to convey information, emotion, and storytelling.

Favorite tools

Sketch, Figma, Atom, Dropbox Paper, Twitter, Ping Pong, Ukulele

Joshua Shao, Apprentice UI Designer

@jhuashao
What drew you into design systems?

I first found out about design systems through my last internship, which was focused on building up a design system for the New York Times. I kept learning more and more about this emerging field, and really started to grow an affinity for it.

Design Systems seemed to blend all aspects of my interests: Product Design, Front-End Development, Graphic Design, Typography, Illustration, etc. I’m drawn to design systems as it’s a field that welcomes individuals who have too many interests to count, and find themselves at intersections of many different passions.

Who have you learned from or been inspired by?

I draw in a lot of inspiration from so many different facets of my life. I’m really fortunate to come from a diverse set of backgrounds to be able to see parallels that emerge from a variety of industries.

The field of Graphic Design has a tremendous influence on me, and some of the designers and studios I’m inspired by are: Natasha Jen, Barron Webster, Maxime Buschi, Michael Bierut, Eric Hu, Micah Barrett, Draw Down Books, Wei Huang, Josh Schaub, Morcoskey, and David Rudnik. I’ve always been inspired by those who are experimenting at the intersection of design and technology: Tristan Harris, Brad Frost, Studio No-Plans, Marie Otsuka, Ben Wilkins, Jon Gold, Bret Victor, and Chris Novello. I also love typography, and have a lot of admiration for type-designers and foundries: Colophon Foundry, Kris Sowersby (Klim Type), Matthew Carter, Richard Lipton, Lucas Sharp, Grilli Type, and James Edmondson (OHnotypeco). There’s so many more people that I’ve learned and drawn inspiration from to mention and praise, so feel free to reach out! I’d love to share and discuss. <3

Favorite tools

VScode, Figma, Adobe Creative Suite, Zero-Sugar Redbull