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Christo­pher Mur­phy takes us on a tour of Lit­tle Thun­der’s Belfast stu­dio, nes­tled in the city’s cre­ative quar­ter

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Christo­pher Mur­phy takes us on a tour of Lit­tle Thun­der’s Belfast stu­dio, nes­tled in the city’s Cathe­dral Quar­ter cre­ative district

A bou­tique ex­pe­ri­ence-de­sign busi­ness based in Belfast, Lit­tle Thun­der ( lit­tlethun­der.co) was founded in 2013 by de­sign­ers Gaby Mul­doon and Tim Pot­ter.

Over its half a decade his­tory, the com­pany has grown from a two-per­son team to a rapidly ex­pand­ing dig­i­tal agency that in­cludes de­sign­ers, de­vel­op­ers and an­i­ma­tors. With a fo­cus on the de­sign of dig­i­tal prod­ucts, the stu­dio counts Elec­tronic Arts (EA), Visa and PwC as clients.

Nes­tled in the heart of Belfast’s bur­geon­ing ‘Cathe­dral Quar­ter’ cre­ative district, Lit­tle Thun­der’s stu­dio is a hot­bed of ac­tiv­ity with a steady stream of vis­i­tors. Just five min­utes from Belfast School of Art – where many mem­bers of the team give their time as guest lec­tur­ers – the stu­dio is of­ten a de facto tu­to­rial space.

A large LCD screen [1] oc­cu­pies pride of place in the cen­tre of the stu­dio. In ad­di­tion to act­ing as a fo­cal point for client pre­sen­ta­tions the screen is also use­ful for get­ting a feel for games, help­ing to in­form the stu­dio’s work for Elec­tronic Arts (EA), one of its cen­tral clients.

The team are firm be­liev­ers in map­ping ev­ery­thing out be­fore mov­ing onto screens. A por­ta­ble white­board [2] is where new prod­ucts are imag­ined and brought to life. Post-it Notes aplenty help to map out in­for­ma­tion ar­chi­tec­ture and cus­tomer jour­neys, re­flect­ing the busi­ness’s ‘plan first, de­sign later’ ap­proach.

[3] Chalky the Cat – the star of a suc­cess­ful ~£15K Kick­starter cam­paign ( j.mp/chalkyth­e­cat) to il­lus­trate, de­sign and cre­ate a chil­dren’s pic­ture­book – is never far away. The book, and its as­so­ci­ated re­wards, in­form the stu­dio’s side-project work, fo­cused around de­sign­ing dig­i­tal prod­ucts for chil­dren.

The stu­dio’s board­room ta­ble [4] dou­bles as a ta­ble ten­nis ta­ble and it’s a mea­sure of the re­laxed stu­dio cul­ture that ta­ble-ten­nis tour­na­ments are a reg­u­lar – and noisy – oc­cur­rence! Some of the team’s best cre­ative dis­cus­sions oc­cur over hard-fought games.

With stu­dio mem­bers in­clud­ing a for­mer Ker­rang! com­pe­ti­tion fi­nal­ist and a for­mer record la­bel owner, it’s no sur­prise to dis­cover that sound is a big part of the stu­dio’s of­fer­ing. [5] A gui­tar, a key­board and a suite of au­dio pro­duc­tion soft­ware are al­ways on hand should a sound­track ever be needed.

A dig­i­tal strate­gist, Christo­pher Mur­phy (@fehler) works closely with Lit­tle Thun­der, help­ing to cham­pion a hu­man-cen­tred de­sign ap­proach.

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