by Geoff Somner
Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes
Back in 1983, when computers needed dust-free environments and punched cards seemed like a reasonable way of storing data, Geoff Somner moved to Norwich to study Computer Science at UEA…
After three years of hard work and learning to play pool, Geoff graduated and stayed on at UEA as a Research Associate. Whilst being the programmer of the research team, Geoff did manage to get his name on a couple of scientific papers, but an interest in design was already showing through and he was found designing logos at lunchtimes rather than playing computer games with the rest of the team.
Creatively frustrated, Geoff started Accent in 1990 as a computer-based service to design studios – when only a few of the larger agencies actually owned computers. With a grant from the Prince’s Youth Business Trust of £6,000, Accent purchased a second hand Macintosh II FX with 4Mb RAM, an 80Mb hard disk and a 14” colour screen. Heady times!
After a year working from home, Geoff moved into a small office on Upper St Giles, sharing with a design company. After a successful time there, the ensemble moved into the studio on St Benedicts in 1992 and spent several years sharing the space with a number of symbiotic companies. Accent continued to grow, moving into computer training, taking on its first members of staff, offering a complete design service and began working for the likes of Kettle Foods and Greentours. Then in 1997, when it was finally accepted that the Internet could be used for commercial purposes, the company expanded into website design. Accent was one of the first companies in Norwich to offer web design and the service, along with the team, soon grew to include database driven websites and bespoke software systems, winning contracts with the likes of the Norfolk Constabulary and the Learning & Skills Council.
Dave joined the team in 1999 to bring web development to the next level, Sally joined us in 2001 to bring some organisation to the company and Tim came along in 2004 as a Junior Designer. We finally took over the whole studio in 2005 and Craig joined us in 2007 as our first full-time programmer. The web team grew with Leon heading up a new batch of developers as we needed to cover more specialisms and we took on larger and more prestigious projects for clients such as Agency Express, Sixteen47 and the Association of Police & Crime Commissioners. To secure that growth we made Dave a Director of the company in 2014 – and revamped the studio to allow the team to grow a little bit more, bringing in Nick, Stuart, Ben, Mark and Adam.
So what does the future hold? Moving forward, we aim to keep our core services of high quality design and production for print, exhibitions and websites, but also to add mobile app development to the list and to look at bigger non-web-based software projects. We may see some further expansion, but will still aim to keep Accent as the tight, flexible team that our clients appreciate.
A Computer Science graduate way back when, Geoff is an experienced programmer utilising his system analysis and interface design skills to enable the team to build effective applications.