Hi Ahmed, thank you for giving this interview!
Hi man, thanks for having me
How did you come in touch with coding for the first time?
My first encounter with coding was in junior school with MSDOS. My second encounter with coding was around 2007/2008 through friends who were making a skateboard website lesiteduskateboard.com, and crazy SEO ninja stuff.
At that time i was in College in Paris studying History and was about to pass exams to become a teacher. Then i bought a laptop to do ninja SEO website stuff with php, movable type, early wordpress.
Finally I installed Flash 8. And started to do some animations for a friend who was a director. Spending time in forums and google i came around some tuts showing how to fetch xml and display content. I was blown, i knew i could make something out of this. In summer 2009 a friend Nao had an Advertising Agency called Soixanteseize, back then they did a lot of flash websites, they agreed to welcome me and test me.
So i did my first website with videos in the background, huge xml, font animations, the FWA websites kind. It took me a month and half of pain, and struggle to make it, waking up at night daydreaming about eventListeners and tween, but i did, and they decided to keep me.
I learned a lot. Then Apple decided to kill Flash, so i had the choice in order to stay at the agency, either i would become a graphic designer, either i would stick to coding. So i learned php, wordpress, html5, js.
Most of your projects like http://theskateboardsoundtracks.com/, https://t-e-l-e-p-o-r-t.me/, http://m-o-n-o-m-i-x.com/, http://mixtubetape.eu/ have a strong conceptual component. Some of them went viral. How do you develop ideas for that kind of projects?
https://t-e-l-e-p-o-r-t.me is defently the most viral one (150 000 visitors), everyday people tweet about it, that’s sick. Ideas like that are slowly developed. Usually i’m browsing, then in some websites i feel there is something missing, then from that void comes the idea, i search if it has already been done, if not i rush to buy a domain name, then i start some sketch.
For the design it is always some lineal font (grotesk) or monotype and blue (the internet blue). i like to have this Visual Identity for all my digital projects. All of these are just fun to work with, it usually push me to use some new tech, new framework. I still have a list of ideas that i’m willing to work on in the future. But it needs time.
What is your artistic approach?
If i can come back to history, there was a mouvement called l’école des annales which made history out of everything and not only wars and politics. You can apply that to digital projects, make website out of everything.
A friend of mine Olivier Lebrun is a Graphic Designer. He makes books out of content available. I copyed the method to the web. Content are available everywhere (GAFA provide APIs), you just have to mix an idea with some database and make it look cool.
It has to be simple, people on internet are lazy, within a day if you look your browser history, it is huuuge. The goal of a website has to be understood, and in a glimpse. The less diversion you have the more efficient you’ll be. My goal is to entertain, say something or at least give something usefull.
Which artists and designers inspire you most?
Mr Doob (the engineer of interaction design), Moniker are full of poetry and use all the digital spectrum. For example when i discovered them they had a website with a webcam pointing on a table and cell phone on some paper race track, on the page you had telephone numbers and when you called on of these numbers the phone was vibrating and moving toward the finish line. I loved the idea, users controlled an object somehwere in The Netherland. Proto Internet of things, that was brilliant.
Dia studio for the crazy AR work with type design. Also some Pitchfork’s cover stories are ill. Dieter Rams, Saul Bass, Experimental Jetset, DADA, Enzo Mari, skaters like Mark Gonzales, my friends.
You work a lot with APIs. How did you came up with it?
Contents are available everywhere as i said, usually the form is web 1.0, so let’s give it a younger look with a tricks that makes it worth the visit. My first API project was fetching trending hashtags on twitter and for each keyword i called the google image search api, in the end the object is some king of digest of today’s hot subjects. Another useless website, but fun to do.
Tell us about your tech-stack
I use WordPress for regular websites, Node js with express and Mongodb for digital projects built from scratch, Angular for SPA, but moving to #React with a headless cms like cockpit or firebase or graphcms (this is endless). My goal is to be as much serveless as possible with the backend in order to focus on the frontend.
For all these environments i like to use yeoman, it comes handy with gulp, preprocessing sass and js, livereload, build dist files. I have 3 screens and i’m sitting like a latinos in a lowrider.
What are you currently working on?
A website for la librairie des archives (check their instagram). A Foundry for some friends. Some Contemporary dance festival with the design of a cool studio called Spassky Fischer. Some stuff for friends who makes music.
An instagram aggregator for a skateshop, plenty of stuff.
I refurbed the mixtubetape.eu on react. It took me a week to understand redux, but i’m psyched now, it makes development so clear, and modular, you can build isolated ui components and reuse them as we did in the past with Flash.
Make the new Instagram, hire super tech guys and Crazy UX Designer and hopefully change the internet game, create a new way, a new USAGE of making people interact. But one of my main goal is to make the post internet, make forms that comes from internet but live outside IRL.
I’m also tryin to have a workflow more efficient so that i can develop faster, in order to get more free time.
I had the opportunity to teach but couldn’t make it, i’m looking forward to do it. Improving react, graphql and all these new stuff (graphql is the future, can’t wait).