Posted at 4 Nov 2015

Interview with BONG International

Ben West and Simon Sweeney talk simultaneous coding and working when they’re not working.

We’ve featured your work numerous times on Hover States, most recently Activia Benz. Can you tell us a little about this project first of all?

Activia Benz is the world’s silliest record label, bossed by our long-time chums and clients Jake and Greg. They have recognized that while it's very nice to have a physical representation of music you've bought, like a record, most people will only ever listen to the music in a digital format, so the record or CD or whatever becomes ornamental and needn't be a record at all. So their new business model is to sell music 'on' other things, like tracksuits or balloons for example, which we think is way more clever than it sounds.

How did the two of you start collaborating?

We met when Simon moved from Dublin to London on an exotic world travel experience. He did a six-month stint on the Graphic Design course at Kingston University, which Ben was already neck-deep in. So we became friends and had our first collaboration there, but then for years nothing happened. In mid-2014 we were both freelance and tried doing a project together, then another one, then some more, and more, and then we did this interview.

Your work is so prolific, you seem to produce knockout websites at an alarming rate. Do you spend most of your time working?

Maybe we do! It doesn't feel like it. In the past we've taken on everything we've been offered, but more recently we're having to learn to turn things down, and how to recognise which clients won't be such a good fit for us. If there's not mutual enthusiasm for a project, from both designer and client, the process will be slow and the outcome will be limp.

We often code simultaneously in the same document while attempting to sync YouTube videos of tracks from the Lord of the Rings OST across an ocean. Isn't that modern?

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

When we're not working, we are usually working, or not working. And when we are working, we are often not working.

Do the two of you share a studio?

No, because the bong.international studio we would need would have its front door in Dublin and its back door in London, and would be a nightmare to clean. But seriously folks, we are actually connected by Skype most of the time listening to each other chew food and wander off. You would be amazed at how little difference not physically sitting beside each other makes to our lives; we often code simultaneously in the same document while attempting to sync YouTube videos of tracks from the Lord of the Rings OST across an ocean. Isn't that modern?