Amsterdam-based Ben West and Dublin-based Simon Sweeney are co-founders of design and development agency, BONG International. Working intercontinentally, they create playful websites for clients including Bloomberg and design studio johnsonbanks.
How did you first start working together?
We didn’t really plan on working together. We both found ourselves freelancing at the same time, and doing a little bit of web work. A semi-serious development job came to one of us, and it would have been too hard to tackle alone, so we decided to share it. We were both learning web development, and made some exciting money from that. We’d worked together as designers in the past, so sharing more work came quite naturally and it felt easy and fun.
We didn’t make a big intentional commitment, like quitting our jobs to work together, and couldn’t even consider finding a studio to work in because we’re based in different countries. So we swerved the biggest and most frightening steps in starting a partnership. It’s been four years now.
What are some of the pros and cons of working in a pair?
It’s easy to lack confidence when you’re working alone, so having someone else involved – whether they’re a collaborator or a second opinion – makes you feel better, and makes the work better too.
Early on, we split everything down the middle, coding in the same document at the same time on the same project. We’re quite rationally minded and try to design things which ‘make sense’ and are ‘correct’, so our process is logical. That’s a good fit for a long rambling discussion on Skype, working out the puzzle of it. On the other hand, many decisions do come down to aesthetic preference, and if we disagree we can get stuck, because neither of us is in charge.