Q+A: Radish Lab

Looking to find out more about the great companies that make DUMBO what it is? 20 Jay St creative agency Radish Lab tells us how they use creativity to change the world one pixel at a time.

Tell us about Radish Lab. Radish Lab is an interactive creative agency focused on people and projects changing the world. We work directly with clients focused on social impact, building interactive experiences (think web or mobile apps, or embeddable interactive infographics), websites, content strategies, and pretty much anything else pixelated.

What prompted the use of a radish in your name? Is there any significance? There’s no significance, other than it’s quirky, and memorable. We started the business quickly, and without ceremony, but I think we’re growing into the name.

You guys try to work with clients who make a positive social impact. Explain why you feel this is important. Most of us have over 10 years of experience in our respective fields and we came together because we were all sick of working on projects that didn’t mean anything with people who didn’t like or care about what they were doing. When we sat down to think about creativity and what it means to love what you do, the two seemed very much connected. Our social impact focus is mainly selfish. We want to live vicariously though clients who are engaged in projects that mean more than money, and who are genuinely passionate about what they do.

Walk us through how you find your clients and what would make them appeal to you.>/q>

Almost 80% of our clients come from referral, or are repeat offenders (meaning, they keep brining us creative projects). Because we’re focused on the social impact arena, and we’ve got some great and reputable clients like the United Nations, the American Museum of Natural History, the Central Park Conservancy, and Columbia University under our belts, we’re able to leverage the great work we’re doing for existing clients to bring in new ones. We’re expert storytellers, which I think is a bit of a secret weapon because the bulk of every project we tackle is really helping our clients figure out what their story is; why are they doing this project in the first place?

Tell us about your design philosophy. How do you strike the perfect balance of what you think will be great and what the client wants?

We have a general theory about generating any kind of content, whether it’s a user flow, an interactive, an infographic, a piece of web copy, or a website. We believe that if something is fun, and it’s also functional, the experience will be memorable, which is what you want. We also believe that content should be generated with intent, and also leverage intuitive user flows whenever possible. You should be able to read your newspaper in the order you want (style section first, obviously!), just like you should be able to browse a website or dive into an interactive experience quickly and in a way that feels natural to you.

Most of our clients are able to get behind this philosophy, but the biggest obstacle we face is usually budget. Nonprofits, for instance, have a hard time justifying to their partners and board members why spending 20K on an interactive experience with a shelf-life of 3 months is going to be worth it. A lot of what we do is try and shift the mindset of our clients to be one that’s focused on impact and return on investment, rather than sticker shock. If a 20K interactive can get a million views in three days, it’s probably worth it.

What is the creative process like at Radish?

Awesome. We have a really amazing team of talented and committed people working here. We’re extremely collaborative and thorough in our sharing and conception of ideas. We’ll often sit everyone down (from the office admin to the lead writers, designers, and developers) in the initial phases of a big project to brainstorm ideas and ask questions. We’re really interested in the user experience and we spend a lot of time rethinking what seem like obvious solutions because we believe that design should always be evolving.

What was the most challenging project that Radish has completed since its founding?

Projects are challenging for all sorts of reasons. I think some of the most satisfyingly challenging projects have been data visualizations or interactive projects where we’re working with a team of PhD scientists (for example) who’ve spent years on a single data set and can only really imagine it being displayed one way, or as a complete set. We’re really good at finding the stories within complex data sets, and also at deciding which data tells the real story for a general audience, and which can be left out. It’s usually challenging get the client on board with our plan, but once we do, the product is pretty awesome.

What made Radish Lab choose DUMBO for a home?

Well, duh. Aside from being Brooklynites at heart, DUMBO is an obvious choice for creatives. It’s teaming with exceptional talent from all creative fields and we’ve found there’s a lot of cross pollination and collaboration that happens here. You’ll overhear someone’s conversation in line at Foragers for lunch, and get their details because you’re working on the same thing for another client. It’s also becoming a pretty cool neighborhood. The park is turning into an amazing asset for team lunches and creative brainstorms (or just long walks to clear your head!).

Radish Lab's client base spans the globe. Do you see Radish opening another office?

Absolutely. We expect to open West Coast and Europe offices in the next 3-5 years.

You guys were founded in 2012. What do you see in the future for Radish Lab come 2022?

We want to become one of the leading agencies in the world committed to social impact projects. We’re in the process of developing tools and platforms to actually help our non-profit and cultural clients to educate themselves on the creative process and connect with the right people to help them execute their ideas. We believe that real social change is so much more than a great website, or cool interactive piece. It’s about shifting people’s mindsets, which can take generations. We’re hoping we can enable our clients around the world to influence their local communities and target audiences through the creative process and also, grow large enough as a business that we can support these clients through channels that don’t cost them anything.