Mathieu Triay

Creative Technologist

I’m a Creative Technologist with a background in computer science and a keen practice of design & user experience. For 5 years I have crafted and carried out the vision of Night Zookeeper as its Technical Director, aiming to make children more creative online through reading and writing. Now I’m working on the future of the book and interactive digital marketing campaigns as part of the Creative Technology team at Penguin.

Penguin Night Zookeeper Freelance Contact Press/Awards

Creative Technology at Penguin

Our goal as a team is to create interactive spaces which will help reach new audiences. Half of it is finding an appealing concept, and the other is helping readers see the books in a different light. Oftentimes a book, particularly non fiction, can seem a little out of reach when in reality these books are made to be accessible. It’s easy to imagine someone dismissing a book because they think “it’s not for me” even before they’ve opened it. All they need is someone to shine a light in order for them to see the book for what it really is.

Climbing Mount Improbable

30 years ago, Richard Dawkins wrote a suite of computer programmes to demonstrate evolution in action. We brought Dawkins’ code back to life, making them available in the browser for the first time. We then used the code to generate unique covers for each of the three books Penguin re-issued, each copy featuring a unique biomorph, shell or wave pattern.

Play with evolution at mountimprobable.com

The challenge in converting what’s effectively a research tool into an accessible interactive game lies in abstracting what’s not necessary for the user to understand, and emphasising what’s taken for granted in the original presentation. For instance, in the original programs you could breed to infinity but seeing the consequences of your actions over multiple generations was almost impossible. Tealising how far you had come from your original creature but how closely related they can seem is part of the magic. By using a tree, similar to phylogenetic trees, we made it possible to visualise multiple generations from multiple creatures at the same time. It now clearly shows the difference in offsprings over time.

“I’m spellbound by the fact that the Penguin computer wizards have managed to put a different random biomorph on every single jacket of both The Blind Watchmaker and Climbing Mount Improbable.” — Richard Dawkins

When it came to manually tweaking your creature, replacing the series of obscure numbers was crucial to make the process more accessible. We wanted the user to feel like they could elongate and squish their creature by hand. Direct manipulation would have been the best approach, but given that the genes have a high interplay, the resulting interaction was confusing. Instead, we paired relevant genes together and plotted them on an interactive surface. This way you can make your changes in the physical space rather than in number space like the scientific original.

Creative Review Annual Award - Best in Book winner for the categories Digital Craft & Technical Innovation and Websites

This project also won the British Book Design/Production Awards for Best Multimedia Book as well as Best Digital Marketing and Publicity Campaign at Futurebook

Pocket Penguins

The Pocket Penguins website was designed to showcase the simplicity and the quality of the book as an object. The series has a very minimal design which lets the content speak for itself and the website echoes that by putting an extract for each title, emphasising the use of quotes to hook the readers into the rest of the text. To enhance the physical aspect of the series we also include 3D renders of the books with a 360º view. Getting the homepage right was crucial, presenting all the elements we thought were essential to the series in a playful but also reminiscing of high end brands like Apple.

Explore the Pocket Penguins at pocketpenguins.com

The Pocket Penguins website has won two Lovies, one for Best Home/Welcome Page and one for Best Brand Microsite.

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

A digital narrative that brings to life Carlo Rovelli’s bestselling book Seven Brief Lessons in Physics. The book, which explains our universe and the evolution of physics in seven short, simple lessons, has a striking cover. The website uses the same visual language and crafts a unique interactive animation for each of the chapters. The resulting animations allow readers to experiment with the principles of physics in the most unusual ways, and are accompanied by audio and text extracts to explain what’s happening on screen. At the click of your mouse, particles swirl and undulate, multiply, scatter, disappear and explode, all by the hundreds.

“The site is serious, yet playful, and we think that’s very important. The interactive diagrams offer another level of understanding and playfulness which you can’t get in print.”It’s Nice That

Discover what the universe has to offer at sevenbrieflessons.com

Little Black Classics

The Little Black Classics website is now in its second iteration. The first version was an iPod clicking wheel inspired interface which allowed the user to flip through the list of 80 ttiles very swiftly. For the second version, which included 46 more books, we revamped the interface with a familiar bookshelf look, echoing the way these books were presented in bookshops, whilst retaining the original functionality of the first website.

“This is how you sell books in the digital age”FastCo Design

The first version’s introduction screen

The website was extremely successful in driving pre-orders and was an important point of contact for customers to discover the series.

See the 127 books at littleblackclassics.com

Grayson Perry’s Default Man

Default Man is a satirical mini game that plays with the ideas of male stereotypes explored in the book. Players first act as Default Man, the archetypal manly persona, then as Tender Man, itself a stereotype of metrosexual character, overcoming different challenges to reach an elusive end goal. Intended as an exaggerated and tongue-in-cheek way to talk about Grayson’s everyday challenges, the game is a humorous way to talk about a big subject. It’s Nice That

Play the game at default-man.com

Night Zookeeper

Night Zookeeper is a website to help children to be more creative online. It’s a writing tool that takes the shape of a game that students can play and teachers can monitor. Entire lessons, custom or pre-made, can be taught through the website whilst the story, characters and game encourage children to produce their best writing.

Night Zookeeper was nominated for a Children BAFTA award as well as received accolades from The London Book Fair, BETT and Design For Experience.

“My students were able to make a year’s worth of progress in their writing in one term, as a result of their involvement and enthusiasm for Night Zookeeper.” – Emma Cotton, Langham Village Primary School

As one of the founders and Technical Director of Night Zookeeper, I was in charge of full stack development and project management. We built and designed a cross platform client side architecture, hybrid mobile apps all supported by the same API backed by Node.js. I directed and carried out the technical vision of the business, consistently allowing it to move fast, innovate and experiment. To that effect, I was heavily involved in the product design process and user experience, leading student test sessions to come up with features and refine the interface.

Technologies used include Node.js, Hapi, HTML5 Canvas, MongoDB, Backbone.js, CoffeeScript and Phonegap.

Freelance Projects

I’ve worked on numerous freelance projects of various sizes. Highlights include pelicanbooks.com (maintenance, improvements & new checkout flow), thehappyreader.com (bespoke CMS & magazine subscription backend) and studiojoyride.com the in house agency of The Lad Bible (landing page development).

Contact

I’m available for freelance, feel free to send me an email at my name dot my last name @gmail.com. You can also follow me on Twitter and Github, should you be so inclined.

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Press/Awards

In the last few years my work has been featured in magazines, on television and radio. Some people have written some very nice things about it too and some even have awarded us prizes. Here’s a short selection.

Press

Guardian, Guardian, BBC World Service, BBC News, New Scientist, It’s Nice That, It’s Nice That, It’s Nice That, Creative Review, FastCo Design , FastCo Design, FastCo Design, The Bookseller, The Bookseller

Awards

Children BAFTA

Nomination, Primary Learning, 2015

Creative Review

Winner, Best in Book, Craft and Technical Innovation, 2017

Winner, Best in Book, Websites, 2017

Lovie Awards

Winner, Bronze + Popular Vote: Best Home/Welcome Page, 2016

Winner, Bronze + Popular Vote: Best Brand Microsite, 2016

FutureBook

Winner, Best Digital Marketing and Publicity Campaign, 2016

Nomination, Best Digital Marketing and Publicity Campaign, 2015

British Book Design and Production Awards

Winner, British Book Design & Production Awards: Best Multimedia Book, 2016

Book Marketing Society

Winner, Book Marketing Society: Best Multi-Title Campaign, 2016

Design For Experience

Winner, Experience for Children, 2013

The Drum/DADI Awards

Finalist, Best In-house Website, App or Campaign, 2015

The Drum/MOMA Awards

Commendation, Best User Experience and Usability, 2015