“Then wham bam we’re web developers!”: Danny Baragwanath and Rifke Sadlier on their journey with DXR studio

With an enviable list of clients ranging from Dua Lipa to Dazed, Burberry, Converse and The Climate Group, the future of the studio is looking bright and purposeful.

Date
11 February 2021
Reading Time
4 minute read

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Remember the days when you could head out to the pub, meet up with your friends, get close, touch some hands and talk about javascript? Perhaps not the latter, but Danny Baragwanath and Rifke Sadlier, founders of studio DXR, speak of these particular moments rather fondly.

These chats about javascript are what brought the two together, after a couple of mutual friends introduced them in their local. “Anyone not into code with a developer friend knows how eye-wateringly boring it can be to have someone banging on about javascript frameworks and hot new acronyms all night,” Danny tells It’s Nice That, “and we’d both been very guilty of it in the past.” So when they met, unsurprisingly they got on pretty well – conversing about all-things digi, while their friends watched, “shaking their heads from afar.”

The London-based development scene is small “but welcoming”, says Danny – and the two were always keen to meet people working or interested in this realm. Due to its smaller size and increase in demand for digital projects, they both became overwhelmed with work and commissions of this ilk. Sharing the workload, in this sense, seemed like the right thing to do, and a month later they decided to launch under the guise of their own studio, aptly named DXR – an abbreviation of their combined names.

DXR is a self-taught studio that thrives off the constant evolution of the digital sphere. “It’s nice to be in a field where it’s impossible to know it all, and continually get gratification from learning new tricks that can be worked into new, fun and digital experiences,” says Danny. After building a few sites for themselves and their friends, plus a few internships at various agencies, Danny and Rifke learnt the ropes on their own terms. “These days almost everybody needs a website, whether that’s for themselves or for something they’re involved with,” Danny says. “So work began to snowball quite quickly when people caught wind that we could code, then wham bam we’re web developers!”

Danny Baragwanath and Rifke Sadlier: DXR. Climate in Colour (Copyright © DXR, 2021)

At present, DXR already boasts an impressive client list since. This includes work for Dazed, Burberry, Institute of Digital Fashion, Warp Records, Mowalola, Dua Lipa, Universal Music Group, Loose Joints, Dropbox, Wavey Garms, Converse, The Face, and Anyways Creative to name a few. The studio’s most recent commission, however, is a site development for Climate in Colour, an online education platform and community that aims to bring climate conservations into the mainstream. Founded by Joycelyn Longdon, a climate researcher currently studying A Master of Research (MRes) and PhD at Cambridge University, DXR was briefed to collaborate on a website that would serve as the hub for all of its impactful work – the central point for each of its platforms, which includes a new online course. “Obviously we were super excited, we’re huge fans of Joycelyn’s work which focuses on making conversations around climate change and social justice accessible and inclusive,” says Rifke. “We had a few meetings to work out exactly what the site would need, and various references that we sent back and forth to make sure we were all on the same page.”

The result is the elevation of the already-strong visual identity, housed amongst a playful mix of fonts, visuals and the pre-existing Climate in Colour infographics. A bashful yellow takes centre stage, giving it an almost 70s-style feel as its paired with a medley of soft and bubbly typography, plus the inclusion of more legible serif fonts.

The site is quite text-heavy, meaning that DXR needed to work out how to keep the information fresh and exciting. “In our earlier conversations,” says Rifke, “we both talked a lot about sites which used ‘scroll-jacking’ – basically where the user scrolls in the usual direction, and the page moves along but in different directions to add an element of surprise and playfulness. To prevent these changes in scroll direction from feeling too abrupt, a lot of the elements are animated to look like they’re floating slightly, or like the site is kind of breathing.”

There were two key learnings from this project. The first was induced through the Climate in Colour team who, after completing a full accessibility audit, made sure that the site is completely inclusive; this involves adding in an option for people to switch off the animations, and navigating around the idea of accessible colour choices and fonts. The second was how to host a site that’s powered by renewable energy, or writing code that’s energy and processing power-efficient – something which Rifke has come to realise over the past year after discovering the solar-powered website, Low-tech Magazine.

Of course, the last 12 months have been somewhat of a whirlwind for the studio. But the two have remained consistently busy despite it all, with thanks to the increase in demand for online services and platforms. “When the pandemic hit it seemed like the entire planet needed to go digital overnight,” says Danny. With plans to add to its repertoire in sustainable projects, to continue to “hack the mainframe for the foreseeable,” and take on causes and initiatives that are close their hearts, the future for DXR is looking bright and purposeful. That is until the pandemic ends and they can both head back to the pub and continue their chats about javascript once again.

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Danny Baragwanath and Rifke Sadlier: DXR. Climate in Colour (Copyright © DXR, 2021)

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Danny Baragwanath and Rifke Sadlier: DXR. Climate in Colour (Copyright © DXR, 2021)

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Danny Baragwanath and Rifke Sadlier: DXR. Climate in Colour (Copyright © DXR, 2021)

Danny Baragwanath and Rifke Sadlier: DXR. Harley Weir, Alzheimers Ceraics Auction (Copyright © DXR, 2020)

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Danny Baragwanath and Rifke Sadlier: DXR. Burberry x Dazed, Boundless (Copyright © DXR, 2020)

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Danny Baragwanath and Rifke Sadlier: DXR. Depop Space (Copyright © DXR, 2020)

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Danny Baragwanath and Rifke Sadlier: DXR. Eco Fortuneteller (Copyright © DXR, 2020)

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Danny Baragwanath and Rifke Sadlier: DXR. Georgia Kemball, Digital Showroom (Copyright © DXR, 2020)

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Danny Baragwanath and Rifke Sadlier: DXR. The Institute of Digital Fashion (Copyright © DXR, 2020)

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Danny Baragwanath and Rifke Sadlier: DXR. Jocelyn Antequil, Portfolio Site (Copyright © DXR, 2020)

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Danny Baragwanath and Rifke Sadlier: DXR. Sportscar, Portfolio Site (Copyright © DXR, 2020)

Danny Baragwanath and Rifke Sadlier: DXR. Noisy Copyright © DXR, 2020)

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Danny Baragwanath and Rifke Sadlier: DXR. Climate in Colour (Copyright © DXR, 2021)

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About the Author

Ayla Angelos

Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.

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