What is Meide Studio, and who are the people behind it?
Sarah – Meide is a creative technology and design studio that formed out of a collaboration between Elly and I. The idea is that it’s a collective for us and our talented friends to produce work together.
Ellyn – Our name Meide is a play on our Chinese names Mei Che (Sarah) and Mei Ying (Ellyn) and the word “made”. Mei means beautiful in Cantonese, and thats what Meide is all about, building and making beautiful things.
Ellyn – Sarah and I are sisters and now creative partners! With me living in Sydney & Sarah in Auckland we’re able to tap into the creative communities of both cities which is really really cool. I’m a motion graphics designer and self-taught developer, where Sarah is an all round engineering boss who’s been part of growing a well- known tech startup among other things.
Sarah – We were inspired and impressed whenever we found an intriguingly beautiful or fun web experience and wanted to be part of it. It’s a tad boring, the constant and similar rectangular template sites that are being produced, even by brands that in real life create amazing experiences. We figure that it’s because web work is traditionally very expensive, mysterious and intimidating. So we want to contribute to the resistance against that reputation, and be a little different.
What initially drew you to code and making websites?
Sarah – I wasn’t enjoying university much when I somehow chose Programming 101 as an elective. In the 1st lecture we were shown “Hello world”, my jaw dropped and I became the heart-eye emoji. It was the 1st I’d experienced of how computers truly work. I ended up switching courses and acing a Software Engineering honours degree, there was no looking back.
I think coding is a powerful creative tool where I can mesh logic and creativity. I am big into sci-fi and imagining the future so I like being in the industry and a part of it all. It’s cool being able to understand how these things work, in both a development and business sense, all these things being created that are changing the world and how we live in it.
Ellyn – Moving to Sydney straight out of university, I was broke and living in Dulwich Hill which gave me quite a lot of spare time lol... so to accompany my dinner of shin ramyun noodles I started 'code academy' tutorials that Sarah had suggested. While doing digital design internships here and there, I was drawn to code. It gave me the opportunity to really develop my ideas, I wasn't bound to a set time frame animation or a single piece of paper. I could make something that everyone experienced or interacted with differently and it was SICK!
The work you produce always has a strong focus on interactivity and animation, as well as having some great design. Could you expand on the process behind the websites you create?
Ellyn – Thank you, neither of us are traditional print designers so we are probably breaking all sorts of design rules often haha. Yeah with our backgrounds, interactivity, animation and fluidity always find their way into our designs. We really want to change the perspective of what a website is, we LOVE being inspired by tactile things like paint strokes, paper, fabrics, scrapbooks etc and finding a way we can replicate that online.
Sarah – Our process is usually to get the story then smash out as many ideas as we can, link each other related websites, graphics, photos that inspire us, Elly creates some moving brand collateral (e.g. the China Girl rose gifs, or the Kiss Kiss colour changing logo) and then we refine by finding patterns and making sure they are repeated through the site. We usually continue designing during the build too, trying to imagine ourselves as the visitor: what do we want them to feel, can they find what they want? can we make them smile while they do?
Being a digital designer myself, I’ve always seen a strong split between design and development – and being a designer, and a developer. But from your work, it’s clear that you must see both sides of a project with equal importance. Is it right to assume that you see the internet as a platform for creativity, and code being just another tool to express this creativity?
Ellyn – Absolutely, we see the internet as a never ending canvas, there are no limitations. We often pitch ideas that we have no idea how to pull off but for us thats half the fun because not only do we think of the idea but have to somehow work out how to make it work.
Sarah – wow you really get us haha. Thank you. As a coder and designer, I love the idea of full collaboration and overlap of skills. We have also collaborated on projects where someone else takes the design lead, and our responsibility is the development of it, e.g. We recently worked on a site for Auckland based label Wynn Hamlyn with a talented designer Son La Pham, and our design thinking helped us to be better developers on the team.
Due to some major diversity issues, the technology industry and learning to code is often a hard thing for women to break into. What advice do you have for younger women who may be considering technology as a career path or hobby?
Ellyn – There are so many stereotypes and ideas about coding and those who code. But anyone can and should give it a go! We really want to break the mould of what type of people are into this stuff and what type of things they can make. It would be amazing for young woman actually young people to start bridging the gap between traditional graphic design, fashion design, painting and so on, with web and tech. And it would be amazing to see more perspectives changing up the technology that’s being built for the world. The potential here has not been reached at all
Sarah – Try it and if you’re into it, just do it. Don’t let the fact that no-one else like you is doing it stop you. You may encounter hard bits, but it’s worth it and you will carve your own place in the industry. A place that probably doesn’t exist yet, because it needs you! As Elly mentioned, there is still so much potential, and there are a range of roles in technology too. Come be on the forefront and make things happen. It’s actually really necessary that more women and people of all kinds start to see this – technology is the future and we need that future to be decided by a diverse range of people. Making web art, meshing fashion, art, style and technology, building web apps, deciding what AI (Artificial Intelligence) become, the lot.
What has been your favourite project you’ve worked on, and what types of projects do you enjoy working on the most?
Ellyn – For me my favourite project is still whirlwind, this is pretty much where Meide all began. I wanted a place to upload my travel photos with the idea of an online scrapbook, and asked Sarah to help me. Everyday we just kept coming to each other with more and more ideas, bouncing back and forth, learning from and for each other, it was so fun to collaborate and push the super simple initial idea into something I am still so proud of.
Sarah – We also had our friend Amy Kang illustrate the logo for us which we LOVE and are so into. This is the essence of what we’re doing. Appreciating the talent around us and channelling it into projects we can all be proud of <3. I can say this about many of the projects we have coming out soon: Wynn Hamlyn, Kiss Kiss, The Mercantile, NK essentials. Talented brands doing cool things we are lucky enough to work with and learn from.
What's next for Meide?
Ellyn – We're working with another ace designer and friend Helen Keen on crafting our own branding at the moment and it really illustrates who we are so we are looking forward to launching that properly early 2017
Sarah – We have more collabs coming soon, but we will also spend time on projects for ourselves, and future projects may even involve breaking out of the web browser and creating experiences that leak into the real world. We have tons of ideas, some sprung off the popularity of whirlwind. So we will be creating creating creating in the coming months.
You're talking to us really at the beginning of what we envision becoming, so there's actually so much next for Meide!