Interaction designer and maker of things Brendan Dawes has announced the closure of Beep Industries.
The organisation was most famous for the Popa, a “big red button for your iPhone camera”, and intends to continue supporting the Popa app – a new version is already in beta with filters and image editing.
Dawes (BD) spoke to .net about his decision, what he thought Beep Industries achieved, and what’s next for him.
.net: What was the reason for closing Beep Industries?
BD: Even though Popa was getting rave reviews and could be found in wonderful places such as the V&A museum store and the Pompidou centre in Paris, the truth was it just wasn't selling enough, and without massive investment in marketing the product, the sales were just never going to come.
The final catalyst for taking the decision to close Beep was when Photojojo went with the incredibly ugly – and cheaper – rival product from Belkin. I'm not blaming Photojojo at all – they own their shelf space and they decide what goes on it, but I took it as a sign to say: "OK, time to shut this down".
.net: What do you think were your greatest achievements? Are you proud of the output from the company?
BD: I’m incredibly proud of what was achieved. What many probably didn't realise was that the other three original members of Beep left back in October last year, before Popa had shipped. I then had a choice to either close Beep there and then, and not ship Popa, or take the risk and give it a go. Against all the advice from accountants and lawyers I decided to carry on and I don't have a single regret. I'm very proud of Popa especially as so much of me is in that product; I did the website, designed and coded the original version of the app, the brand art direction, the packaging and all the photography and of course worked on the design of Popa itself together with Danny Kane at Meso Design in Scotland. Popa shipped – it's a real thing that you can hold in your hands and use and that's what matters.
I'm also very proud of MoviePeg; in fact I'd say as an object it's probably one of the best things I've ever designed, especially the first version. I love its almost ridiculous simplicity yet incredible usefulness. I still use it every single day, and that makes me smile.
And then there's the store itself, the logistics system and the support system. I'm really proud of the feedback we got about the whole Beep Industries ordering process and our customer service and support. And there was just me and my PA!
.net: What's in your future: more web work, or something else?
BD: There's a lot of possibilities ahead of me but I'm not going to rush into anything just yet. Right now I'm in the middle of planning an exhibition of some of my work that will take place in Manchester in September, which I'm really excited about, and I've also been commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company as an artist to work with data they're collecting from all over the web.
The common thread for me is interaction in the widest sense of the word. These are exciting times where designers can twist and mutate objects into beautiful things. It isn't about computers or even ‘screens’ – it's about about our interaction with the world around us and that's what fascinates me right now.