So here's the scoop: the new group94 website will be released on January 10 2007, exactly 4 years after the current version... now that it's been said there's no way back... (*)
It's been over three years and a half years since we last interviewed you. Please update us on your bio and what you've been up to.
Well we’ve been busy. Group94 is currently 7 people and although it’s always been the idea to keep the company as small as possible the amount of work requires that very soon we’ll have to find a few new talented people to join the team.
How many hours do you work each week?
Most g94-team members work 8hrs/day, we try to limit overtime as much as possible.
Usually I spend a few more hours behind the computer in the evening at home. Being a creative director I have to dedicate a lot of my time during working hours on coaching and discussing, answering emails and dealing with clients...
Evenings and weekends are a time for reflection. Thinking about stuff, trying out ideas, figuring out concepts, that kind of stuff, making designs… answering FWA interviews ;)
How do you relax or unwind?
Actually I don’t consider my job as stressful. I’ve always enjoyed what I’m doing and in fact designing is relaxing to me.
And I think that goes for all team members: we work hard but we try not to be stressed. We laugh a lot and every noon we play pool (we have a professional 9 footer at the office and there’s a tough competition going on…).
Is there a particular moment in your career that stands out?
I don’t really think so. Not in my perception anyway. Things simply went the way they went, there’s never been a big plan or a career strategy…
My business model is very simple: we try to produce top quality work and that keeps clients coming. We get many more requests than we could ever handle.
In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?
Not really. I’m not the kind of person that kicks on the latest toys. People at g94 were quite happy with the latest version of iTunes…
How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?
Really a lot. Not only there’s the ongoing flow of new projects, also past projects need updates or new functionality… as opposed to printed matter digital design is a never-ending story.
Are there any websites that have shone through as being pioneering in the last 5 years or so?
Absolutely. As we all know the circumstances have dramatically changed over the last years: the limitations of web technology and of Flash in particular have been pushed back and also broadband is wide spread nowadays.
This has allowed creative minds to focus on the essence of their story rather than on the technical aspects of the job. And the result has many times been stunning. I’d rather refer to the www.thefwa.com SOTD list for examples than naming a few and forgetting a lot ;)
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
Yes sir! FWA is definitely one of the most prominent design portals around and, amongst others, it has brought our work to a worldwide audience.
I’m sometimes amazed about how many people know g94 or are familiar with our work.
Recently a client of ours from the US got visited by an art class and when he told these students that a company from Belgium was going to do his company’s site they replied with “not group94?”… I mean, to me that is amazing…
The cool thing is that also a lot of designers and art directors seem to know us or even check our portfolio on a more or less regular basis. Then one day they contact us when they’ve got a project they’d like to do with us.
So yes, I’m convinced that being displayed at FWA has helped us in reaching an international audience. Thank you!
When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?
Well that depends on the type of job. When an advertising company contacts us for a ‘commercial’ project (like Sprite for instance www.sprite3g.be) then they obviously have strategic goals to achieve.
At the time we get the briefing they already have a vision or sometimes even a rough design or mood boards. It is then a matter of translating this vision to the web in the best possible way: the job is about proper and efficient communication and obtaining measurable results.
On the other hand, when a photographer, or another design related client, contacts us then the job is about design as well.
All credits must go to the work on display and the website must be crafted accordingly with only this in mind: try to make the work look even better than it already does.
Either way, I actually think we’re quite good at finding the right approach, we obviously always try to push the envelope, and then once the client is convinced as well then we try to stick to it and be consistent, even in the slightest detail.
Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?
Wow man… beats me. And if I knew I wouldn’t tell anyway. Otherwise all readers would know it as well and that might impair our future chances in the market ;)
Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?
I think it’s fair to say that I’m proud of about 80% of what we produce. Most proud:
I’m still very happy with Carl De Keyzer, OurType, Douglas Fisher, Jill Greenberg, Sean Kennedy Santos, seems like people also really like our approach for Annie Lennox - more recent: mortierbrigade, handelsbeurs, Atelier. Obviously Magnum In Motion and Lauren Greenfield. And most recently Schierke.
In the UK, television programmes covering the web are way behind what is really happening in terms of web design and development. Is it the same in your location and why do you think this is?
Consider yourself happy that at least there are TV programs in the UK that cover the web. There are none in Belgium. On second thoughts: I’m happy that there are none over here ;). I mean: I don’t think web design is important enough to spend TV time on the subject…
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
I’ve always been astonished with how easily trends get adopted in web design. I’m sometimes even shocked that there seems to be such a thin line in our business between influence and flagrant copying, and how these copycats seem to get away with it.
What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?
I have no favorites. Since web design is a global activity the only correct answer seems to be ‘the world’. Indeed the cool thing about the Internet is that the whole world is just one click away.
There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?
A new website for group94. Our current site is almost 4 years old and it’s really getting outdated in my opinion.
Also it doesn’t serve our needs anymore from a content point of view: we’ve done too many different projects and we cannot list them properly. We’ve been talking about a new version for ages but client’s projects always push it back.
So here’s the scoop: the new group94 website will be released on January 10 2007, exactly 4 years after the current version… now that it’s been said there’s no way back… (*)
How difficult do you find employing the right people in a world where everyone calls themselves a web designer?
I reckon I’ve been lucky. All team members seem to have been the right person pushing our doorbell at the right time. They all share the same obsession for detail and perfection and they’re all very good at what they do.
And I presume they’re all happy at g94 since nobody seems to consider quitting… (Or at least they don’t tell me haha).
How do you keep up with the latest capabilities of Flash or do you rely on other members of you team to do this?
Well yes, my job has changed over the years as I explained above, and I’m not really coding on a daily basis anymore. It’s unpleasant to admit but there’s people at g94 nowadays that are much better at Flash tricks than me...
What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?
The Batmobile definitely scores high on my wish list because of its illustrious back seat. Yet my real wet dream would be a transporter.
Can it get any better than to be beamed up by Scotty?
Do you have any links to photographs of your offices you could share with us?
We’ll put some on our new site…
What does the future hold for your company?
Don’t know. I hope something like this but then obviously related to web design…
Once again, it's been a privilege. Thank you very much indeed.
Ouch yeah obviously I need some sleep ;)
(*) Unfortunately Tamara, our project manager, will kill me when she reads this and I’m already afraid that we’ll never meet the deadline…