.

I play rugby 3 times a week. I guess it's not that relaxing but it takes your mind off work and that's the aim.

question Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

My name is Thomas Clever, co-founder of CLEVER°FRANKE. C°F is an interactive design agency focused on information and data visualisation. 

I started C°F together with Gert Franke after finishing my studies Editorial Design at the art academy of Utrecht, the Netherlands. During my MA degree I specialised in interactive data visualisation for search results. 

What do you do for inspiration?

I don't think I do much differently from anyone else. I look around on the street, browse the web, blogs, read books, watch movies. Basically I keep my eyes open. I draw inspiration from anything. 

Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

http://infosthetics.com

http://www.fastcodesign.com

http://www.bestiario.org

What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

Starting and building a successful company with my good friend Gert Franke. 

How many hours do you work each week?

Anywhere from 40-70 hours depending on the amount of deadlines and client meetings. I must admit it's closer to 70 than 40.  

How do you relax or unwind?

I play rugby 3 times a week. I guess it's not that relaxing but it takes your mind off work and that's the aim. 

If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?

I'd probably be an architect 

What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?

A full weekend, years ago though. We started on a friday finished monday morning. That was a fun weekend, thinking back to it. 

If there are any pivotal experiences/decisions you could point to that helped shape your career, what would they be?

After finishing my BA i decided to do a MA degree. That's when I first came across with the idea of data visualisation, UX and interaction design. I would say that paved the way for the focus of our studio now. 

What software could you not live without?

OS X. Makes me happy using it everyday. 

How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?

Between 10 to 15. 

Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?

That's a difficult question. I have great admiration for Fantasy Interactive, Stamen and Moving Brands

Who is your target audience?

Companies and organisations that are data driven and acknowledge the importance of design. People that want to aim for the highest quality and are uncompromising in achieving that goal. 

Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?

I'm yet to find out, but what i can say is that it is nice being recognised for hard work. In this case the hard work of a whole team, both at C°F and the different stakeholders. It brings a good vide to the studio when you win awards. I'm sure awards have some importance when clients deciding whether to collaborate or not, but i've never been told in so many words. 

When dealing with major clients, how difficult is it to meet the needs of such wide target audiences?

It is not that difficult, I must say. We are very user centred in our projects. We have to be because most things we design and visualise is complicated content. We investigate the needs of our clients and audience in the early stages of a project. That's we you familiarise yourself with all the different needs. We try to have this crystal clear before we even design anything. So once we start designing, we know what we're getting into. 

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?

I really like KLM's social media strategy. They've done many inspirations things such as KLM Surprise or Facebook page. Such simple things can make a huge difference in the way customers perceive you as a company or brand. Nice example;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqHWAE8GDEk&feature=player_embedded

Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?

I think websites will be intertwined into our lives, habits and activities more and more. I'm interested in things like self learning systems, which i think will play an interesting role in the future of 'online'. Looking forward I think people will not 'go online' to visit a website anymore. Instead a website will contact you. I think the idea a website 10 years from now is going to be completely different from what it is now. I'm surprised that people accept that fact that the online world is being fragmented into websites, webapps, native apps and desktop applications. Hopefully in 10 years these are all merged together into a 'thing' that you start up or visit, or that 'thing' knows when you need it. 

Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?

The one we won a FWA with; consumerbarometer.com

Do you think Flash is here to stay?

No. 

What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?

Yes I do. I can only say something about the education in the Netherlands. I think art academies in the Netherlands are playing catch up to interaction and visual design developments in the field. They've waited too long with integrating expertise and knowledge of the field into their curriculum. Many schools here are very much focused on the bauhaus model of concept and typography. Right now, I see better designers coming from technical universities than art academies. However, they all lack a certain way of thinking about design for web on a conceptual level. We see a lot of interns and applicants that have no clue of what is being asked of a designer these days. That worries me a little. 

How difficult do you find employing the right people in a world where everyone calls themselves a web designer?

Very difficult. It is hard to find original interactive craftsmanship. We try and select people that understand their underlying design process and are able to critically evaluate their own process. 

How do you keep up with the latest capabilities of Flash or do you rely on other members of you team to do this?

I rely on my fantastic development team.

What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?

Bicycle, I'm Dutch. 

How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?

I follow the progression of a lot of web related startups. We work together with a few here in the Netherlands so naturally we stay up to date. I find talking to a lot of people and hearing different perspectives helps to see trends and ideas emerge. 

There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?

I love sports. So a sports company like Nike or Adidas with a project that combines interactive data visualisation with design and strategy would be a dream come true. 

What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?

As a company we try and innovate constantly. Improve our skills, our service, our working methods. We have some self initiated projects lined up that should see the light of day in 2013. I have a lot of faith in the fact that these ideas will be a success. 

What is the most expensive thing you have bought in the last week?

A plane ticket. 

What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?

Yes and no. I wear Adidas Y-3 shoes, Levi's jeans and Lacoste polo's because I like it and that choice has given me the freedom not having to think about what to wear. 

It has been a privilege, thanks very much

Thank you!


Links

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Thomas Clever
Thomas Clever

Elsevier metric visualisations app
Elsevier metric visualisations app

KPI dashboard (clients undisclosed)
KPI dashboard (clients undisclosed)

Google Consumer Barometer
Google Consumer Barometer

C°F annual weather chart 2012
C°F annual weather chart 2012

C°F annual weather chart 2011
C°F annual weather chart 2011

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