From a second-floor storefront on Chattanooga's Fountain Square downtown, more than a dozen computer programmers, designers and strategists are building digital connections around the globe in what is often an increasingly disconnected era.
Triptych, which recently rebranded itself from its original name, Level 2 Dynamics, or L2D, has delivered web-based interactive design and development services to clients worldwide over the past 16 years.
Led by brothers Nate and Tyler Johnson and their business partner and chief strategy officer, C. Eliott Johnston, the firm works to solve the complex, interactive design and development problems for clients as varied as EPB and the Creative Discovery Museum in Chattanooga to national work for clients such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and The North Face.
"Our portfolio is extremely diverse because many of our relationships begin with a client asking if it is possible to realize an innovative vision or address a significant problem," Tyler Johnson, partner and chief technical officer for Triptych, said in an interview in the company's Georgia Avenue office. "From that starting point, our talented people work to tackle the need, regardless of its requirements."
Less than two years after its start in 2007, the FBI contacted L2D to help develop an interactive children's program based on previous websites the company had helped develop for historical storytelling. The company developed a number of interactive games for children about the FBI and its history that are used around the nation, Tyler Johnson said.
"We do a lot of either really complex application development or merging interactive experiences with the web," he said."We try to be digital problem solvers."
Triptych began in 2007 as L2D in Chattanooga's incubator and two years later moved to St. Elmo, before later moving to sites on Main Street, in Hixson and finally in 2019 to its current location on Fountain Square in downtown Chattanooga.
A new identity
The company has gained clients from referrals and word of mouth, Johnston said, but as L2D grew, the founders began pursuing an updated name and branding to fit how the company has evolved over the past decade.
"We hit an inflection point for both our company and technology in general and decided it was a good time for us to create a brand that provides more meaning to who we are as a business," said Nate Johnson, partner and chief creative officer.
The new name is intended to highlight the diverse and artistic work of the company.
A triptych is an artwork made of three pieces or panels, usually depicting a sequence or telling a story. The three partners have backgrounds in fine art, and each manages different divisions of their business. Like the way a triptych comes together, collaboration is key for providing a cohesive finished project to the client.
"It also showcases how we tell the story of our clients," Nate Johnson said. "We try to honor their past in projects that are moving them into the future."
Working with major advertising agencies and the leading big tech firms around the nation, the company works on complex application buildup or emerging, interactive experiences for the web, Nate Johnson said.
Company at a glance
Name: Triptych, formerly Level 2 Dynamics (L2D)
Services: A strategy, design and development agency that specializes in interactive campaigns, complex web-based applications and 3D motion
Partners: Brothers Nate and Tyler Johnson and C. Eliott Johnston
Headquarters: Fountain Square in downtown Chattanooga
Triptych has developed a fun and imaginative way to instruct children about internet safety for the FBI and created a web-based 3D Himalayan mountains feature for The North Face that allows you to move about Lhotse Mountain, the fourth highest mountain in the world on the border between the Tibet Autonomous Region of China and the Khumbu region of Nepal.
"You can experience what it is like to be camped at that location" seeing the oxygen levels and altitude along with the satellite images, Nate Johnson said,
At the Creative Discovery Museum, the company helped develop a robot and other interactive features for children's play. For EPB, Triptych developed a smart grid game to highlight the utility's diverse services and which also has helped develop applications for EPB's account management, bill processing and other back office work.
Triptych helps EPB with its web-related projects designed to help customers' experience online, EPB spokesperson Sophie Moore said.
"They assist us in designing and developing portions of our customer portal along with specialized landing pages, including EPB Quantum Network," Moore said in a statement.
EPB has not only been a client of Triptych, it has also helped provide the high-speed internet links and Gig City connections to help the web-based company grow in Chattanooga. Although its headquarters are far away from the technology hub of Silicon Valley, Boston or Austin, Texas, and Tripych is not in a major advertising market like New York or Los Angeles, the company has worked with such tech giants as Google, Microsoft, Meta and Mastercard on interactive web-based technologies, Nate Johnson said.
Triptych also works with top advertising agencies such as The Bunton Group in Nashville and the Atlantic in New York to develop digital strategies for an array of businesses and nonprofits.
The company has recruited programmers and other tech workers both locally and nationally to Chattanooga to work in its office, Tyler Johnson said.
"We're very focused on our staff, and I think Chattanooga is a great place to live and work," he said.
The business is relational, with the average client being a customer of Triptych for about five years, Nate Johnson said.
When starting a new project, Triptych begins a discovery phase in order to get to know its client, its client's aims and to ultimately craft a solution, Johnston said.
"I believe that is truly one of our strengths. We want to know our clients and their goals intimately, and work with them to realize their vision," said Nate Johnson.
"We're very nimble," he said, explaining how the Chattanooga firm is able to compete and cooperate in the digital arena with major technology companies.
With recent advancements of generative AI models such as ChatGPT, Midjourney and others, many in the interactive design industry are quickly adopting this still-developing area of technology. Triptych sets itself apart by being aware and knowledgeable of advancements while advocating for ethical and efficient use of technology, Nate Johnson said. They use technology in a way that does not detract from the human experience of the creative process.
"Technology is ultimately a tool, and it's our desire to use that tool to promote human flourishing and connection," Johnston said. "We attempt to employ a measured approach with wisdom surrounding these rapidly changing advancements."
The business partners hope their projects can inspire and encourage people to achieve something they did not think was originally possible.
"We don't want technology to be the destination but rather a conduit that helps you find it," Johnston said.