How School injects humanity into digital spaces

The New York-based creative studio School aims to spark curiosity, joy and interaction in its designs. But none of it is frivolous, its founders explain

A studio’s website can say a lot about what it offers – in terms of services, yes, but also in what flavour and style of work it wants to bring to the world. Hard edges and minimalism might suggest a business built on prestige, while an interface boasting the graphic design trends du jour may help to show that a company has its finger on the pulse.

The website belonging to New York-based creative studio School holds up to that same logic of doing what it says on the tin. Like a sandbox game that begs to be tinkered with, it serves as a manifesto for their design practice: one that is rooted in continual exploration and experimentation. It also illustrates the way their digital experiences somehow manage to conjure a sense of volume and space within the confines of a flat screen, something they’ve translated to client work for the likes of the New Yorker and Mailchimp – much of which is often, in simple terms, a joy to use.

“I think there’s definitely an emphasis on putting interactivity into it,” co-founder Nicky Tesla says, however the suggestion that their designs sit in this vein came as “almost a surprise”, he admits. “We had to take a step back from it to be like, yeah, I guess the work is fairly playful compared to other studios that maybe are in a similar category as us. It does tend to come out that way, it seems.”

Yet so far as computer science is concerned, and by extension digital experiences, most argue that there is no such thing as randomness – and that’s reflected in the way Tesla talks about their practice. “It comes from a place of trying to inject some interactivity and fun into it, but also sense. I feel like things aren’t just frivolously placed there. There’s an under-girding of logic about why things are the way they are, or we try to make sure there’s that foundation in most of our work I think.”

School founders Nicky Tesla (left) and Andrew Herzog (right)

SENIOR DESIGNER

MANCHESTER