.
Eventually this love of all things physical would lead me to invent MoviePeg – a really simple iPhone stand that for me is probably the purest most perfect thing I've ever made.

Your name, plus your original "web name/handle" 

Brendan Dawes 

Your first web encounter, year etc. 

It was 1995 and I was reading Computer Arts when a small preview magazine fell out called ".Net".

I'd heard and seen  things like Compuserve and even Prestel, but this was something that seemed completely different and much more exciting.

Almost immediately I found a service provider called RedNet, signed up, bought a modem and plugged it into my Dad's 7200 Mac – but there was instant disappointment. Because the Web was so new RedNet didn't support it except through a text based browser.  

So in fact my first experience of the Web was actually all text! I remember it was the official site for Elvis's Graceland - it kind of blew my mind that I could look around a house on the other side of the world using my computer  - albeit only in text form!

The next day I bought a huge heavy book called The Internet Starter Kit which had a tiny chapter at the back about this new part of the Internet called The World Wide Web. It said it might be kind of big. 

What our readers might recognise you most for, when you first hit the web. 

Well I guess the tribute site about Saul Bass was the first thing I did that got noticed and then the quirky spin-off Psycho Studio which allowed people to edit their own version of the Psycho shower scene, way before any kind of video support in Flash.  

I remember when I first came across Flash – I think it was version 2 that I first got into it – and thought it was pretty amazing especially when you consider that back then people got excited about a three frame animated gif "under construction" graphic.

That Saul Bass site was all about me learning about what Flash could do and playing with it as a design tool. I was a huge fan of Bass' work so I wanted to take his design motifs and use them as inspiration for interfaces without it being overtly a Flash site without all that preloading XML bullshit.

It was also a vehicle for me to try and further my career.

Through that site I met Hillman Curtis who introduced me to a load of people and we worked together for a while in New York. I was also interviewed by Imaginary Forces to head up their planned New York office but the dot com crash came and they abandoned their plans.

I remember thinking "what the hell am I doing at The Mercer Hotel in New York chatting to Imaginary Forces about a job? How did this happen?".

All of this pretty much came from that Saul Bass site.

It's still online and most recently got a lot of attention because Google did a Doodle on his Birthday earlier this year.

You look at the site now and it's the size of a postage stamp compared to sites these days, but I refuse to update it. For me it's a moment in time that is frozen forever - a reminder of where I started. 

I think the other thing that got my name around was my first book Drag, Slide, Fade which I think was the first Actionscript book that talked about code in a design context.  

It was a complete nightmare to write and I hated every minute of it. I was proud of the final thing but it pretty much scared me from writing a book for a long time, though I did eventually do another one in 2006 called Analog In, Digital Out which was actually a real joy to write.

It still sells even today and apparently it sits on the same bookshelf at Ideo as Bill Moggridge's Designing Interactions which makes me very happy.

It'll soon be Kindle only which saddens me a little. Reading it on the Kindle is just not the same experience as holding it in your hands – I don't care what anyone says. 

Your digital journey since.  

After getting back from New York I got offered the job as Creative Director at magneticNorth in Manchester and I ended up staying there for just over ten years working on some nice brands but all of which no longer exists online, such is the nature of digital and particularly the web.  

All that time though I was continuing to make my own things and sending them out into the Internet to see what reaction those things would get.

I never want to make anything that is so-so or doesn't get people hot under the collar. I need to incite some kind of emotional response from the person using or viewing my work otherwise what's the point?  

A lot of that was me simply pushing buttons so to speak to see what did and didn't work. Cinema Redux – the project that would eventually end up in the permanent collection at MoMA – was me playing with code on a Saturday afternoon.

I first published it in 2004 but it wasn't until 2008 that it was featured at MoMA.  You just never know who might have noticed the work which is why it's so important to publish your stuff, whether it's perfect or not.  

During that time I really started to get into making physical things – like many others inspired by the ease-of-use of Arduino as a platform.  There's something nice about holding a physical form in your hands, something that you can feel and touch that has always appealed to me.

Eventually this love of all things physical would lead me to invent MoviePeg – a really simple iPhone stand that for me is probably the purest most perfect thing I've ever made.

And it's simply a piece of rubber with a slot cut in the side.

Beep Industries was then formed to sell MoviePeg and then went on to make Popa – the big red button for your iPhone which was an idea that came about after playing with my Makerbot and the influence of my Dad who was a sports photographer and all the things he taught me about the importance of single moments.

There's too much that went on with Beep Industries that I can actually write in the context of this article, suffice to say I was very proud of that thing not least because it was a Kickstarter project that did actually ship! 

What are you up to now? 

I parted company with magneticNorth last year and now work in my studio at home and loving every second of it.

My first big commercial project was for EE who commissioned me to create a series of eleven art works to capture the three days during the roll-out of 4G across the UK.

It was such great project to work on not least because of all the challenges I faced in making that work.

I'd never worked with data that was clocking in over six million rows in a CSV file so there was a lot to figure out for not  only processing that much information but also taking all that data and making it look beautiful.

It was all done in Processing which continues to be my tool of choice – I've been using it now for ten years and it just gets better and better. The reaction to the work was pretty fantastic – I even had to travel around the country presenting the work at civic receptions in the various cities. 

I'm still continuing to do lots of seemingly disparate stuff but I can't remember the last time I designed or made a website. It's not what I do now and in fact anything to do with HTML and CSS fills me with dread.

To my mind it's just so unintuitive compared to how I make things with code, mainly because HTML is a markup language not a programming language. Yes Javascript is great and there's some wonderful stuff being done in Canvas and the like, but then there's the pain of making sure it runs in this browser or that browser.

It does my head in.  I shouldn't need to worry about that crap - that's plumbing and I'm not a plumber. Design in the browser? I'd rather have nails hammered into my eyes thanks.  

It also suggests that the web is tied to this thing called a browser which of course it isn't – it just happens to be one way of using it. It's a system that is agnostic to the way it is outputted so when you think about it in that context the idea of *web design* is much larger than we might first think of.

If I design an object that tells me the weather by rotating a series of dials is this not web design? It uses the web as part of its bill of materials yet its output is a physical object not a page metaphor stuck under glass. 

Right now I'm working on a fabulous project for MailChimp in the states who've commissioned me to make a series of Internet connected objects with email as a core component.

Connecting objects to the Internet is interesting but I think it's much more than having your dishwasher tell you its finished the wash cycle!

I'm interested in what conversations as such we can have with an object when it's connected to a large network and consequently each other. What conversations will we be having with these things and how does it alter the shape so to speak of that object and our relationship to it?

And then there's all this data flying around. What happens when we use data as a malleable material? What about data as furniture? Data you can trip over.

Yeah I'm up for that.

hr
Brendan Dawes... then (plus Todd Purgason, Colin Moock, Robert Reinhardt, Craig Swann and others)
Brendan Dawes... then (plus Todd Purgason, Colin Moock, Robert Reinhardt, Craig Swann and others)

Brendan Dawes... now
Brendan Dawes... now

Saul Bass
Saul Bass

Flashforward
Flashforward

Analog in, Digital Out
Analog in, Digital Out

The mN Team 2009
The mN Team 2009

MoviePeg
MoviePeg

Popa
Popa

One year with the Makerbot
One year with the Makerbot

EE London
EE London

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