Mizaplas is a mobile app and digital production company founded by two ad creatives, Peter Cortez and Joe Sayaman. Peter previously worked at JWT, SS+K and Dentsu, and Joe at AKQA SF and SS+K. Randomly, we were paired up at SS+K and hit it off. We did some great ad work together (that died of course!), but to keep our spirits up, we started a side project and our first app, Recco. It was enough of a success to convince us to try our hand at conceiving and building other apps and digital projects. Fast forward 3 years later, we built five apps together (including FWA Mobile of the Day picks, Sara Jenkins’ New Italian Pantry and Citydoping NYC) and just finished our first site for a client, Sun Noodle. We also still freelance with many ad agencies.
What do you do for inspiration?
J: I like to surround myself with interesting and inspiring people. A lot of times just hanging out with friends and grabbing a beer, someone will tell you about a cool video, tech or exhibit that will inspire me later. Also, traveling to recharge.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
J & P: We Feel Fine has always been a favorite in terms of concept, design and innovation.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
J & P: Being able to come up with our own products. Being the creative and client is pretty awesome.
How many hours do you work each week?
J & P: All depends on the project, but try to keep a work/life balance. But totalling it all up, it’s prob around 55-60 hours a week.
How do you relax or unwind?
J: I don’t love running, but like it to relax. I also watch a lot of trashy TV.
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
J: Both of my parents are teachers, so I always liked the idea of being one.Or a paleontologist.
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
J: Favourite part is coming up with the ideas. Hardest part is making the idea work under budget, time and client constraints. To get unstuck, you just have to walk away for a bit. The worst thing to do is to try to will a solution to happen. It never does.
If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?
J: First, going back to Ad School after my first job out of college sucked. Second, taking my first job at AKQA SF. At that time, digital was just breaking into mainstream advertising. No one knew the possibilities. I had 2 great ECD’s that opened my mind from the beginning about the potential of thinking outside of print and TV.
How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?
J & P: All depends, right now 4 projects plus freelance.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
J & P:
CIP Creative, Melbourne, Australia
Who is your target audience?
J & P: Our target is neither design snobs nor tech snobs. It's usually a give and take and we like people who appreciate both equally.
What area of web design lacks the most?
J & P: Emotion. A lot of good design out there is so logical. We would love to see more emotion. Actually there's a lot of amazing design with emotion in people's blogs, but less so in the wild.
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
J & P: We hope so!
What was the last digital effort you saw (or were a part of) that used social media in a way that really made sense. Why?
J & P: Intel’s The Beauty Inside by Pereira O’Dell used social media in a totally seamless, entertaining and stupidly-simple way.
Have you been a part of a campaign that was rooted in digital and THEN reached over into other consumer touchpoints? Did this happen organically or was it a part of the plan from the beginning?
J & P: Our iPad app for Sara Jenkins is a digital product. The coolest and most surprising thing so far is that it’s evolved into a supper club of sorts. We decided to hold monthly dinners inspired by the recipes from the app at Chef Sara Jenkins’ restaurant, Porsena. We limit the chef’s table to 10-12 people and already had 2 installments which sold out immediately. It’s great to see that we’re not only helping Sara launch a cookbook, but also getting more people in her restaurant.
The web is getting out of the web. Do you find that thinking in digital solutions alone hinders you? Do you feel the urge to solve the problem using all mediums necessary?
J & P: We feel that thinking only in digital is just as closed minded as thinking only in print or TV. We’ve both been very lucky to work on integrated campaigns that push the idea to all mediums. We both really enjoy thinking of great ideas, then finding the best way to execute, whether it is an app, poster or supper club.
Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?
J & P: It’s not a website, but our iPad app, Sara Jenkins’ New Italian Pantry, is the product we’re most proud of. It’s an example of how digital can help simplify and enhance a craft, such as cooking, which has been around forever. The “pantry” concept embodies a great insight and approach that hasn’t been done before. The UX is intuitive and simple. Finally, we feel that we nailed the aesthetic of being rustic, but not cheesy “Italian-chain-restaurant”. Also, oinking timer.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
J & P: We both went to Ad/Design School and that was our way into the industry, so we’re always big advocates of going back no matter what age you are. That said, times have changed so much. There was a great video about how code is the new superpower, and that it should be taught early on in school. We feel that’s a no-brainer, and should be the same with design. Imagine if a kid was taught the fundamentals of design/code when they’re 8 or 9. By the time they’re 17, if they have the talent, they’ll blow every single one of us out of the water. So we say, school is great, but start early.
If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring FWA award submitter, what advice would you give them?
J: Be open to taking criticism and don’t feel like you know everything, but also trust and follow your gut. These two things seem to fight one another, but you need to strike the balance. Even the most creative people can’t work in a vacuum.
How difficult do you find employing the right people in a world where everyone calls themselves a web designer?
J & P: Needle-in-a-haystack difficult. Even if you find an awesome web designer, doesn't mean they're right for that project.
What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?
J & P: Space-enabled pterodactyl!
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
J & P: Wired, tech blogs, and nerdy, curious friends.
What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?
J & P: All countries do amazing stuff, but only because I (Joe) just watched Urbanized and just for urban planning and the Copenhagen bike lane - Denmark. Plus Peter just went to Copenhagen, and all the pictures of clean, modern architecture and design is my kind of aesthetic.
What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?
J & P: We try not to burden ourselves with expectations and just try to make cool stuff that other people will enjoy. In the short term, more New Italian Pantry apps, the chance to do more Citydoping travel guides, and releasing our new app & platform for restaurants, Daily Specials.
What are you excited about learning next and is there a long term challenge you are considering tackling?
J: I’ve been putting it off, but always wanted to learn a 2nd language - maybe start with Spanish.
What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?
J: Apartments on AirBnb for Paris, Barcelona and Venice.
P: Kaws Boba Fett
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
J: Don’t be an a**hole. Collaboration is key to making amazing stuff.
P: Always be open to what your idea can become and collaborate with talented people that bring a lot to the table. Be inspired by working with them and above all, stop holding on to what you think the idea is in your head.
It has been a privilege, thanks very much
J & P: It’s been our pleasure.