Field trips are great. You get to experience what you have been learning about in class. Yesterday, our class got to visit Grain & Mortar. They are a design studio based out of the Mastercraft building in north downtown Omaha. We were greeted with smiles as soon as we walked in the door. As we made our way through the studio, you knew they have a good eye for design and setting a mood. There were tons of industrial elements spread around the room that really fit in well.
As we sat down to eat, I got to talk with Kristin and Miranda. They talked a little bit about their space and how it evolved over the last several years. It turned out that their break room used to be the old boiler room. It was brick with old pipes hanging from the ceiling. Reclaimed wood adorned the cabinetry. We were all pretty jealous that they get to work there everyday. As our conversation continued, we started asking questions about how they work. Turns out they create every website they build by hand, which is pretty impressive.
After we wrapped up lunch, we heard a really nice overview from Eric Downs, one of the creative directors. He talked a little more in-depth about what they do and some of their design philosophies. After that, we moved into the studio to see some examples of what they are currently working on. Miranda was working on new website for a company that makes plastic shelves for big box retailers. Before G&M, the company’s website was a landing page with four PDF files. Now it’s fully responsive, and has a e-commerce shop. It was great to be able to see the before and after and understand how this will increase sales for the company.
We also got to hear from Caleb, the lone Windows user in the office. Caleb is one of those people you just know is brilliant. He talked about some of the pros and cons of using different development environments and how to get the best of each. It sounded like they run into technical hurdles quite often, but everyone rolls up their sleeves and get together to come up with a working solution. We saw a demo of their new website and he talked about how they embedded video directly into their site using HTML-5. It made me wish we were already working with CSS in class, but that will come soon enough.
We wrapped up by having a Q&A session where we asked about all sorts of topics. Everyone there was very open didn’t hold anything back. There were several comments about how much they respect what we are doing. Since I hold them in such high esteem, it took me by surprise.
Everybody had an awesome time and learned a lot. I can’t wait to see where we will go next.
As a reminder, the Omaha Code School Open House is tomorrow, March 14th, from 4:30 to 7:30 pm. We will be showing off our space and answering any questions you might have. It’s still pretty early to show off any work, but if you twist my arm I might show you something. Hopefully I’ll see you there.