Posted at 2 Dec 2015
Interview with Jake Dow-Smith
The founder of Dow-Smith Studio and master of tiny details tells us how his exploits in interactive design started with a Flash tour of his house at the age of 13.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to start Dow-Smith Studio
It happened very naturally—I’ve always enjoyed experimenting with interaction and layout. One of my first experiments was designing a Flash-based tour of my house when I was thirteen. In 2008 I founded triangletriangle.com, a popular photography website with a design that focused on creating a neutral environment for viewing and navigating photography. From this I was introduced to artists, designers and photographers who liked my approach, and since then I’ve worked with these practitioners as well as larger creative and cultural institutions on a range of web-based projects. As well as undertaking client projects, I also teach occasionally at Central Saint Martins.
I don’t think of it as staying ahead of the curve—with each project I seek to achieve an outcome that translates the client’s work into a new and unique interactive experience where the website and work become intertwined
Your approach to site design is consistently original—you’re always surprising us with unexpected twists! How do you stay ahead of the curve?
I don’t think of it as staying ahead of the curve—with each project I seek to achieve an outcome that translates the client’s work into a new and unique interactive experience where the website and work become intertwined. I ensure that I understand and respond to the content provided by each client, and try to use their work as the interface wherever possible, often leading to unconventional results.
Much of your work is for creative companies, artists and designers. Are you quite selective about the projects you work on, or has that kind of work just found you?
A mixture of both. I really enjoy working with artists, designers and creative companies—I find they understand my process and are happy to give me the freedom and trust to interpret their work in a new format. I’m aware that for a lot of artists and designers the environment their work is displayed in is paramount, and I think my style is well suited to these projects in which unobtrusive yet memorable interfaces are required.
Name a website you’ve seen recently that made you go, wow.
hand.gallery is one I particularly like—it’s original and communicates the message unexpectedly yet very efficiently. Aside from that an app for kids (bugg.gg) which converts colour into sound; converting non-visual sources of data into visual outputs is something I’ve been experimenting with a lot recently.
If you could partner up with any other practitioner in the world, who would it be?
So many it’s hard to choose, so I’ll name a few for different reasons. Right now I’m quite fascinated by Neil Harbisson and recommend watching his TED Talk ‘I listen to colour’. From a design and interaction perspective I really enjoy the focus on process by Studio Moniker, and have long followed Folkert Gorter who has a wide and varied understanding of interacting with media, which is of real interest to me.
See some of Dow-Smith Studio's latest work here.