Our Work

Substantial Motion Research Network

SMRN home page screenshot


Client Since
June 2018

Substantial Motion is an international research network founded by Dr. Azadeh Emadi and Dr. Laura U. Marks for scholars and practitioners interested in cross-cultural exploration of digital media and philosophy.

Hop Studios and Substantial Motion worked collaboratively to create tools for geographically separate researchers to connect and communicate in creative ways. In addition, we built in some subtle but powerful design customization features to allow the exhibition curators to align the overall site palette and graphics with imagery from the current exhibition.

SMRN home page shown on mobile and tablet
Services Provided

SMRN members come together around shared interests in media archaeology, the migration of Islamic aesthetics, international contemporary art, media theory, and connections between Islamic and Western philosophy. The Substantial Motion Research Network will be a site for online publications, symposia and exhibitions, as well as a place of international collaboration.

Hop Studios began the project with an extensive collaborative kickoff meeting, during which both teams explored the options for powerful collaboration tools that would best serve the membership. SMRN wanted to create several levels of access. The final site is a rich experience for non-member visitors, with additional tools and features for members. SMRN was very interested in encouraging as much participation as possible from members on the site, as well as interacting with each other. SMRN members can post their own news and events, set up detailed profiles, submit artworks for exhibitions, contribute resource and publication listings, sign up to present their work during SMRN’s monthly meetings, and even set up private project blogs with other members of their choice.

SMRN was very concerned that the site have a strong visual impact, but one that does not distract or take away from the online exhibitions SMRN publishes. We spent quite a bit of time researching Islamic art motifs and colors, and sharing visual reference material. Ultimately we put two important design features in place to allow SMRN editors to refine the site’s appearance when each new exhibition is launched. SMRN editors can select a single universal color setting based off the current exhibition that updates the logo, links, and background colors of various elements. It’s a subtle but effective way to tailor a site’s appearance without requiring a lot of time on reworking code or creating custom graphics.

This site was one of the most complex we’ve created in terms of the many ways the members can contribute content and control its presentation. Of course, we’ve built many different content contribution tools for different clients over the years—but this site uses ALL of them! We’re thrilled with the final result and look forward to seeing the rich, varied ways SMRN members put them to use.


"The folks at Hop Studios are wonderful to work with. They are knowledgeable, professional, and responsive. We had some quite unusual requests for the structure and use of our site, substantialmotion.org, and Hop programmers and designers figured out functional, elegant, and cost-effective solutions for us. I recommend them highly!"

Dr. Laura U. Marks
School for the Contemporary Arts, Simon Fraser University

Notes & Takeaways

“Working with the Hop Studios team was really a fantastic experience. I have been responsible for managing the SMRN website of our research network for several months. The website was built by Hop Studios in a very functional and easy-to-use way. Even after several months of the launch of our website, they are always very speedy in response to any of my questions.  Our communications are very smooth, although I am not a native English speaker and have scarce knowledge of technical things. Their services are always supportive and reliable.”
-Siying Duan

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