Pokers By Night

Written by
Jiayi Wang

Here at POKE, we love a good passion project. Our CEO Nick Farnhill produces Same Old, a vintage skateboard magazine that sits on an office shelf lit up by Plumen LED lights, manufactured by our co-founder Nik Roope. 

Since side projects seem to be a big part of our culture, we sat down to chat with some Pokers to find out what fuels their creative juices when they’re not at the office – from 5 to 9. 

Here’s what we found:

Our technical director taught his Alexa, Spotify, and Sonos to play nicely together

...which sounds simple, but was actually quite complex. 

Jamie was eager for a new challenge, so he decided to teach his Amazon Alexa (the interactive intelligent voice assistant) to play his Spotify at home through existing Sonos speakers. The task involved creating a custom Alexa skill - a list of sentence structures for Alexa to understand and to transmit to Amazon’s server. The latter then forwards the message to Jamie’s server and back to the internal network via a socket server, so that it can find the tracks on Spotify via a locally running Sonos API.


Although there are existing mechanisms to achieve some of this functionality, Jamie found it more interesting to do the work himself. “We design voice interfaces for a wide audience at work”, he says, “so it was fun to make something that was just for me and suited to the way I speak, like Alexa, tell Sonos to play Bonobo in the living room.”

As there’s no rest for the wicked, Jamie’s also currently working on creating an automatic watering system for his bonsai trees!

Our creative director makes furniture

Malin has always been into crafting and making things. Not only does it run in her family, she also learned basic woodworking in school (how cool is the Swedish curriculum?). She took on furniture-making seriously after joining an intro course to woodworking with traditional hand tools, where she created a whiskey cupboard. She also likes to collect abandoned or discarded pieces and repair them. This project, called Teenage Mutant Orphan Furniture, has so far given a new lease of life to a damaged rubberwood tripod lamp and a discarded chair to which she gave a new bottom.

The one piece she’s most proud of is the 150kg record cabinet (pictured above) she made from reclaimed oak for her vinyl-crazy husband. “I had to work with boards that varied wildly in thickness and nothing was ever straight or flat – a woodworker’s nightmare”, she shares. Vigorous work, “but in the end”, she says, “it’s probably the nicest thing I’ve ever made for anyone.” It looks like this is only the beginning too, as she’s hoping to set up her own workshop in a shed next summer, and has just built herself a handy portable workbench. You can keep up with her creations here!

Nimo’s Instagram helps you eat without remorse 

Nimo, one of our creatives, observed that people may have a pretty good idea about how many calories they take in, but not necessarily about how far they’d have to run to burn them. So she and her partner devised Social Calories, a playful guide that tells you just that - through delicious visuals and cheeky, pun-laden captions of encouragement. 

Through social listening, the duo also identified and surprised a few of their runner followers with special direct mail packages containing clever rewards such as wine and brew, obviously with a fun guide attached to encourage them to run them off. “We want people to smile about it and feel motivated”, says Nimo. And motivate them it did, as their Instagram raked in more than 15k followers so far. In Nimo’s own words, “it made us really happy when people said they didn’t feel as bad about the food they ate anymore because they’re empowered to go running.” 

Catch up with their Instagram for more drool-worthy pep talks!

You don’t need to sell work to be an artist least not if you’re @LikeLewis.

This POKE creative has been painting since he was a kid but is currently not interested in having exhibitions or actively trying to sell his work. So he started giving away his artwork for free on Instagram. And that’s how the GiveAwayGang was born.

“Giving work away forces questions”, he explains, “people want to know why you’re doing it. It’s interesting and demands thoughts and conversations.” Using wall paint and cardboard boxes as tools, @LikeLewis combines and connects logos, words, and phrases from pop culture that haven’t been connected before. “My work doesn’t contain pointed messages – I don’t really know what they mean”, he says, “I just put them out there, and they trigger thoughts.”

@LikeLewis also loves applying skills and tactics he learns in his job to promote his art. “It makes work feel like a university for my own project”, he confesses. “I’m a full time artist, and an essential part of that is having a full time job.” 

If you’re interested in participating in one of his giveaways, he’s doing one right now!

A few more 

Kish, another one of our creatives, has been building and designing his own road racer on a budget. He calls it his track-ready MX5

Production director Sonia has a food and travel blog full of captivating photos and engaging lifestyle tips. 

And last but not least, account director Sophie absolutely loves hunting down faded painted adverts around London and capturing them in photographs.