Marc Kremers and Tommi Eberwein met at London’s Hi-ReS! studio in 2003. Having previously sent their portfolios across to creative director Florian Schmitt, both started at the company on the same day and, a little under four years later, left together to set up Digital Club. “We really hit it off from the word go,” says Kremers of the pair’s first meeting at Hi-ReS! “I don’t know how Florian did it, to get a really like-minded group together, but we progressed together and so we decided to make the next step together too.”
Kremers is South African and studied briefly at Natal Technikon before cutting his teeth art directing magazines and working at a motion graphics studio, while Eberwein is from Germany and moved to Switzerland to attend the acclaimed Ecal School of Art and Design in Lausanne. Both were exposed at an early age to design: Eberwein was obsessed with graffiti and Kremers remembers poring over tDR’s Pop Will Eat Itself covers and being amazed by the first issue of The Face coming into South Africa when the apartheid sanctions ended.
Significantly, by their late teens both were beginning to become aware of the internet. They also saw that designers in particular were, says Kremers, “years ahead of the social networking revolution… making their own homes on the net.” By the time both had finished their college courses (Kremers dropped out early and worked on magazine design) they knew that the internet was going to be the place where they would hone their creative skills.
“I always liked the fact that, with design, you could get your message out there, you could construct an identity or a reality,” says Kremers. “So I decided that I was going to go to Europe and that I should make a website to get my work out there.” Kremers put together tex-server.org (which remains his personal site) and decided to send it out to some studios to see what would happen. The first person he sent the link to—Schmitt at Hi-ReS!—promptly replied, asking if he did freelance work. On meeting Eberwein at the company in June 2003, they both realised that they had trodden a similar path to London.
In 2007, Kremers and Eberwein are not yet a year into Digital Club but they have already chalked up work for Michael C Place/Build, Sony Bravia, mtv and, as of last month, The Designers Republic, for whom they’ll be creating a brand new website. “At first we were asked by friends to do things and this helped to give us some great opportunities,” says Eberwein, of the days leading up to their first commission proper, for Build. But how they © ß actually got the Build job is down to the kind of serendipitous activity that’s particular to the web. “Michael [Place] had posted a site he’d made with another company on cpluv.com,” says Kremers. “He’s obviously a highly regarded designer and lots of people love his work but, I have to admit, I didn’t really know who he was. So everyone was saying how this site was amazing and I just ripped it to shreds saying
‘it’s no good’, that kind of thing. People were going, ‘I can’t believe you just did that!’ But Michael said he understood what I was saying – and it was only then that I realised he was one of my heroes! I think I said, ‘Sorry about that, I still love your work!’ But that’s how we started talking. A few years later he said he needed a new website and asked if we wanted to do it.”
Following Build’s site the pair worked on one for directorial collective, Minivegas, which involved layering all the company’s information on screen. There was the business side of the company; their showreel, contact information etc and then a ‘fun’ side; a Pop Art background upon which users could exterminate various members of the Minvegas staff with a pivoting laser gun. Such is the diversity of skills within Digital Club that it’s no surprise that they were also able to find an appropriate solution for Sony Bravia when asked by Dare Digital to work on The Bravia Experience in July and August this year. “They had drawings of what they wanted to do and the themes were clear,” says Eberwein. “We then came in and worked on the animations.” That’s being rather modest as Digital Club’s input was, for one of the executions, to take the idea of a droplet falling and creating ripples in water online. Clicking and holding the mouse button affected the heaviness of the drop and, hence, the intensity of the sound and colour experience that followed as it hit the water. It’s beautiful stuff.
While they’re gaining clients quickly, one personal project for the Club continues to develop and helps facilitate their decidely artistic leanings. As-Found is their archive of imagery collected from the countless files on Google Images. They search daily for themed work—group portraits, swatch cards, military equipment, for example—and organise the results as online exhibitions. The collections, devoid of their original context, provide a glimpse of the internet as it is, in all its surreal glory. “It’s the way that you can use the web as a landscape, like source material,” says Kremers of the pair’s love of working with the internet. “If you can just use the web in slightly different ways, then you can get really creative results.” Digital Club are already testament to that.