Interview: Sennep at 10

Interview: Sennep at 10

London-based digital studio, Sennep just celebrated it’s tenth birthday — no small feat in an industry which is constantly changing and pushing what’s possible.

We’re long-standing fans of the studio‘s work here at FFF. So we caught up with founder Matt Rice, to hear how things have changed over the last decade and learn more about the studio’s work and approach.

Inside the Sennep studio (illustration Nic Tual)

Congratulations on the 10 year anniversary of Sennep. So, how have things changed for you as a studio since you set up a decade ago?

“We started out doing websites for friends, or friends of friends, in the creative industries. These days we are lucky enough to work with large global clients across many sectors whilst balancing that with the smaller projects we enjoyed working on in the early days.

Obviously technology has changed dramatically and job roles have become more specialised as a result. This means we have grown the team (from 2 to 12) so that we have the in-house skills to tackle bigger and more technically challenging jobs.

More recently we have developed our own games and applications that can generate their own revenue. This has been an exciting development and something we intend to do more of. As part of this evolution we have one full-time developer concentrating solely on experimenting with creative coding and prototyping ideas that will benefit client work and our own ventures.”

You describe yourself as a studio ‘bringing a human touch to the digital world’. Could you talk a bit more about this and how you achieve this.

“I guess what we mean by the ‘human touch’ is that we always seek to inject personality and charm into our work. This can be represented by subtle humour, playfulness, the attention to detail or an element of surprise. What we like to do is to evoke an emotional response that has its own value beyond pure functionality.

Hopefully this makes our work linger in people’s memories longer.”

Bus O’Clock and OLO are both great side projects. How do these self-initiated projects come about? Do you have a process?

“From the very beginning we set out to work on at least one personal project a year, and we have pretty much stuck to that. These projects are a big part of what we are all about, as they provide a platform for innovation and learning, and ultimately enhance our client work. In the past these projects have evolved quite organically, out of lunchtime conversations or in the pub. Recently we have formalised the process a bit more; we have to write a one-page pitch document whereby the idea has to answer a list of criteria.

Then if everyone loves it and it won’t bankrupt us then we will try and make it happen. There is no shortage of ideas and enthusiasm, just time and resources!”

OLO game for iOS

TEN game for iOS

What projects do you currently have underway in the studio?

“We are currently working on updates to TEN, our new iOS game that we developed to celebrate our tenth birthday. We are due to launch our R&D blog called Seeds where we will be sharing our experiments in creative code and with new technologies. As part of this we are working on our second collaboration with YOKE on a new interactive installation called ‘Bubble’ (a follow up to ‘Dandelion’ exhibited at the V&A in 2010).”

Concept for the upcoming ‘Bubble’ installation

“On the client side we had a busy end to 2013 completing projects for London Symphony Orchestra and Nike amongst others. Right now we are working on some exciting data visualisation projects, an experimental website for a clothing brand, and putting the finishing touches to a website for a leading architect’s studio.”

MGI Urban world

What are your hopes and dreams for the next 10 years of Sennep?

“Our plan is to stay relatively small, creative and agile. We want to continue to build a specialist team and an inspiring workplace, where people enjoy working together to create great interactive work.

We want to keep learning and challenge ourselves to constantly improve on what we do and our hope is to find more clients that share our passion. We love the idea of using our skills and design sensibilities in projects and applications that make a difference to people’s lives – we hope the next ten years of Sennep is filled with ‘Projects with Purpose’.”

Many thanks to Matt and the team at Sennep for their time and the awesome FFF header (seen at the top of this page).

Guy Moorhouse