15 Jun
   Filed Under: Announcement, Commercial Work, doubleTwist, News   

On March 30, I raised quite a few questions on Twitter when I changed my handle from the old @cocoia to @sdw — a shorthand for my full name, Sebastiaan de With. I also bought (and put some pages up for) domains like dewith.com and sebdw.com. I mentioned that I’d announce my motives sometime in the future. Some people speculated I was going to expand Cocoia, others (interestingly relevant today) assumed Cocoia was acquired.

It’s none of the above. I’m putting Cocoia in carbonite for a while as I start my first full-time job in the United States: I will be joining doubleTwist as Chief Creative Officer, responsible for overseeing and working on the design, interaction and polish of all their apps and services. I’ve been working with the awesome people at doubleTwist as a freelancer for years now and I’m really, really stoked to give them my full attention. We’ve been working on some extremely cool stuff.

I’ve interviewed with over a dozen companies early this year, and my joining doubleTwist is the conclusion of a long period of weighing all the awesome opportunities I had. You may have seen me traverse all the valley campuses on social networks as I ‘shopped’ around. A luxury problem if there ever was one: picking a job from all these kickass companies. doubleTwist is undoubtedly the best choice, though: working with Jon (– of ‘DVD Jon‘ fame) and Monique has always been a pleasure, and the other staff are some of the most detail oriented and talented I’ve known in the industry.

In related news, I will be moving to San Francisco soon. As a city, it’s a fantastic place to live. As a place, it’s where I truly feel at home out of all the places in the world. I can’t wait to be living and working there.

What does this mean to you, my reader and / or customer, and my ‘behavior’ online? Icon Resource and other Cocoia products will still be supported and developed. I will still work on side projects, UI breakdowns, speak at conferences and (loudly) voice my opinion on things. I will be working more with Android (and possibly, as they emerge, more mobile OSes).

I will, however, no longer accept freelance work. After six years of freelance designing, this is truly the end of an era. Thanks to all my awesome clients, large and small, and my ‘competitors’ for being awesome inspiring designers I was proud to share a market with. You know who you are. I’m sure we’ll work together again in the future. For now, goodbye.

And, of course, I’ll be showing off some of the awesome things I’ve been working on for doubleTwist very soon.

03 Jun

It’s always a huge leap for a designer to come up with designs for a platform you’re not familiar with. I remember feeling extremely uncomfortable at first when I designed my first iPhone icons and interfaces, and while the iPad was a logical extension of the iPhone UI, it still felt like a significant step to take.

Androids and doubleTwist

Imagine how I felt when I was sitting at my desk, Nexus One in one hand and pen in the other, after being asked to design doubleTwist’s media player for Android. Android doesn’t have a very nice media player in terms of design (I’m carefully picking my words here – I don’t want to offend the undoubtedly hard working people at Google) and it was easy to just go the way some developers go: make an iPhone app, shoehorn it into Android, and call it a day.

We wanted something that actually advanced the state of the art. I sure as hell wasn’t going to use an entirely new platform for months just to ape another. It was a mixed blessing to have so little limitations on what constituted a ‘native’ user interface.

Android has its guidelines, but most apps (even the Google-sanctioned Twitter app) have a very ‘custom’ appearance. We opted for a look that works well on the various devices and custom ‘shells’ (notably, HTC’s terrible “Sense” interface) and arrived at this muted, native-looking yet polished visual scheme, which also helps users navigate the app in direct sunlight, where OLED screens like the Nexus One’s tend to be hard to read. Subtle usage of textured surfaces in the application also help prevent color banding on the color-limited OLED screens.

I’m happy to have this in the hands of Android users. It’s sometimes depressing to read comments on tech websites of people exclaiming: “Why would you even care about how a media player looks or works? You play music and turn off the screen!”, but I am sure there’s a lot of people who will appreciate the thought and details that went into this app. And that makes it all worth it.

The player is available on the Android Marketplace for free for a limited time.

16 Mar
   Filed Under: Commercial Work, Design, Icon Design, News   

Interarchy is a Mac app that’s almost as old as I am: it was first created in 1993 as one of the first FTP clients for the Mac, and in 2007 it was sold to its current owner and long-time developer of Interarchy, Matthew Drayton of Nolobe. Matthew contacted me with a request for new icons for the big upcoming version 10. This was no small release, so it had to be worth it.

Like several other FTP clients, Interarchy has always been known and discerned by its icon. By now, it’s a powerful brand. Matthew also expressed his desire to maintain the filing cabinet metaphor in the application icon, and I agreed. Changing the icon now would mean neglecting its long history and evolution.

Continue reading…

13 Mar
   Filed Under: Commercial Work, Design, Icon Design, iPhone   

A while ago Buck Wilson, the designer in a small team of Portland-bound guys, contacted me about icon design for Here, File File!, an iPhone app that lets you connect back to your Mac from anywhere and read, view, and stream your files. As opposed to the popular Dropbox and iDisk apps, it allows full access to all the files on your Mac, instead of just a few hand-picked ones.

I happily started working for them to make a kick-ass icon. There was an additional challenge as multiple icons were required: a Mac icon, a menubar icon, and an iPhone icon, which required a metaphorical connection between all of them. Buck mentioned they had an idea for using a doghouse for the Mac app and a dog with files on the iPhone, but I recommended against using animal motifs. Not only do we have the classic divide between ‘dog people’ and ‘cat people’ to worry about; animal motifs are just not very suitable in iPhone icons.

Continue reading…

12 Dec

Warships, a game designed by me and developed by the Canadian Edovia is now available on the App Store. It’s a great, simple game of naval conflict, and I had a lot of fun designing it. You should get it (while it’s still a mere $1!) here.


However, I won’t be doing a lengthy post on its design process this time around. Instead, I made a video in which I tell you a bit about the process and show off some timelapses of the game graphics and icon. Consider this an experiment, and let me know what you think!

Viewing in HD at Vimeo is recommended!

22 Sep
   Filed Under: Commercial Work, Drawing   

It’s no secret to my Twitter followers that I’ve been very involved in games for the last few years, and I’m happy to announce that a part of my working time goes to UI and concept design for a game company. Apart from a lot of fancy interfaces (yay, holograms) I’ve been doing environments for an upcoming science fiction game, and I’m very excited with one I’ve come up with and was allowed to share: the Captive Planet.


The Captive Planet is a planet rich in natural resources, a valuable asset in any star system that’s just begging to have its riches extracted. Appearance-wise, it’s somewhat similar to Mars, but with its denser atmosphere and extremely hot temperatures, that’s about the only similarity they have. It’s mined by Hephaestus, a ‘wall’ that spans the entire circumference of the planet, and contracts into itself as it scrapes layer after layer off the surface of the planet, leaving behind little more than dust. Hephaestus is a crawling city, inhabited by miners and their families.


In the game, the player gets stranded on the Captive Planet at some point and is presented the harsh realities of living in ‘the Wall’ and choices that will determine the future of the planet and its inhabitants. I’m having lots of fun with this assignment, and I hope to keep you guys in the loop with several other very cool environments and designs I’m creating.