20 years Less Rain
1998 – London
The idea for Less Rain was born right after receiving our 1st D&AD award.
The name emerged in a pub, after too many pints and too much talking about the London weather.
Cyderspace, a student project by Lars Eberle, Ines Pach and Vassilios Alexiou from the MA course for multimedia at Middlesex University London, wins silver at the D&AD Awards.
As a fictional community website for Apple, Cyderspace explores visual and interactive metaphors in a fun, playful way. Inebriated by the success of the project, Lars and Vassilios start Less Rain.
Walter, the Fish
We set up shop on Hoxton Square, London.
The first portfolio, Walter the Fish, is a showcase of our approach to new media: a range of fun experiences involving opera singing coffee beans, mops dancing to easy listening music, and computational animations with fish, such as flocking algorithms creating interactive, moving patterns.
The website could be changed from “the full fish” with a shockwave interface down to a – literally – barebones experience, a play on the state of the internet at a time.
“Walter, the fish” won the Macromedia People’s Choice Award in San Francisco, and earned Less Rain the “Creative Futures” award by Creative Review.
First Social Media Project
Well ahead of its time, Viva TV actively engaged their audience online. Logged in users were displayed on the website and could interact with each other, every VJ had a chat room, and parts of the interface could transform into online games.
The bold aesthetics with pixel typefaces, bright plain colours and repeating patters created a strong online branding, even though they were born from the necessity to stay below 100k in file size per page. The average page size today is 3MB.
Most Shades of Grey
With the launch of Playstation 2, Sony promised to take gamers to “The Third Place”, a strange, alternate reality, visualised by David Lynch in a series of iconic TV commercials.
As a crass counterpart to the vibrant virtual worlds the PS2 promised, we created a persiflage of the daily office grind that could not be bleaker: a grey-in-grey website that required users to “clock in”, and collect and file games data that could be printed out as drab fact sheets complete with labels for folders.
With Eyes Only users could seemingly connect to a global network of surveillance cameras to scan the skies for supernatural activity, and post their findings as annotated screenshots into an online gallery.
A unique animation technique, blending still images with tiny video loops and computational weather effects, created a convincing simulation of something unattainable at the time – full screen video.
The CD-ROM accompanied the book “Eyes Only” by John Holden, a series of photographic ‘reconstructions’ based around contemporary and classic descriptions, experiences and symbols of UFO occurrences and sightings, published by Cornerhouse, UK.
Unreal, too: Eyes Only took off to win a prestigious BAFTA award in the category “Interface Design”.
1st www.redbull.com ever
Our largest project up to this point. Concept, Illustration, UX/UI frondend development in flash and html. A truly global portal page in 23 languages launched in 16 countries.
Alongside a website for Nike’s Scorpion K.O. football tournament we developed an offline promotional campaign, with a bus route connecting Nike Town and the event locations throughout Berlin, and posters of all competing teams painted by local graffiti artists.
The portraits of the winning teams were added throughout the tournament to a billboard covering an entire skyscraper, turning it into Berlin’s largest victory monument.
After the successful campaign we were invited to produce exclusive invitations and merchandise for all of Nike’s Berlin based events.
First Japanese Project
An online rhythm action game for Mitsubishi, in which a couch potato gets dragged outside to zap away obstacles with his tv remote control in tune to funky electro beats.
With each new level he transforms into a more powerful being, until he races through the game as a Lancer Evo Pro.
I-SHAKE-U was our first project together with Dentsu, Japan. It won gold at the ONE Show Interactive, and became stepping stone for us to set up an office in Tokyo a few years later.
Haunch of Venison
First Fully Responsive Website
Spin London developed an extremely minimal corporate identity for art gallery Haunch of Venison, consisting only of a strict typographical grid system using Haas Unica.
Our task was to translate this into a website – not an easy feat at a time where web fonts did not exist.
The solution was a fully responsive website – unheard of until then – built in Flash. It could mimic Spin’s design style to the point, with HoV being able to customise the page for every exhibition so that it would closely resemble their window design and print communication.
The site doubled as an online sales tool, with a private log-in area where the HoV sales team could host virtual exhibitions for their customers.
Ryu ga Gotaku
Known in the west as “Yakuza”, this video game series became an immense commercial and critical success for SEGA. It follows the story of yakuza Kazuma Kiryu, as he fights his way through the virtual underworld of Japan.
For the UK launch, we’ve created a virtual crime scene with an interactive version of the protagonist’s back tattoo, which could be inspected to reveal clues about the game.
The oldest Flash Website still online
The somewhat questionable accolade of our “oldest Flash website still online” goes to the interactive portfolio for one of the world’s most prolific car photographers, Uli Heckmann.
The site plays with photoshop metaphors such as masks, layers and ant trails, creating a design so timeless that in 12 years Uli hasn’t felt the need to replace it yet.
Red Bull Flugtag Flight Lab
Most Critically Acclaimed Project
Flight Lab is the online equivalent to the Red Bull Flugtag; a global event taking place in 23 different countries around the world where people build homemade, man-powered flying machines and pilot them off a 30-foot high ramp.
The online game includes a fun-to-use workshop where people can build and paint their own flying machines. Physical qualities – material, size and shape – all influence the flight behaviour, giving each plane unique characteristics.
One of the very first commercial Flash sites using the Papervison 3D engine, Flight Lab became Less Rain’s most critically acclaimed project.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the bar has been officially raised.”
— Carlos Lunetta, Papervision Mailing List
“I’m in awe. This is a truly incredible use of the engine, or any Flash 3D engine for that matter. The overall implementation is incredible. Truly awesome work.”
— Ralph Hauwert (core dev-team of Papervision 3D), Papervision Mailing List
First Buttonless Project
Interactive prototype of a future interface for Sony TVs. Featuring a buttonless remote built by Sony R&D, and a 3d interface that would tilt and rotate, depending on the user’s position inside the contents.
Red Bull Soapbox Racer
The Red Bull Soapbox Racer lets you build your own car in 3D. Just draw the outline with your mouse. It’s really that simple. However – everything you draw will have an effect later in the game.
The more round the wheels are the better, reconsider materials, use more stickers, paint, use colors, use more colors than your opponents, use every tool you have at least once.
And winning races will get you even more of those. (THERE IS A NAILGUN!)
Red Bull Music Academy Japan
First Mobile First
A bi-lingual English and Japanese online music magazine and event guide, developed by our studio in Tokyo.
As mobile surpassed fixed internet access in Japan, the responsive design was created with “mobile first” in mind, scaling up gracefully from smartphone to desktop.
The site doubled in functionality. Initially it served as an event schedule for Red Bull Music Academy’s ‘Weekender’, a three day (and night) club music event. Afterwards it was turned into the Academy’s permanent web presence.
Atomic Custom Studio
First Product Customisation Tool
Custom Studio is a powerful online design application developed for Austrian ski manufacturer Atomic.
Instead of starting from scratch, users customise readily prepared design templates made by international artists.
Custom Studio runs on computers, touch devices and in-store kiosks. A powerful CMS allows to administer products, assets and tools, as well as creating design templates in an interactive WYSIWYG editor.
It is currently being developed into a universal 3D design tool for customising any product.
Internet of Things
First IoT Project
The Internet of Things brings physical devices online, from home appliances to entire production lines. Paul Hopton, formerly technical director at Less Rain, started IoT company “relayr” in 2013, quickly it growing into a major international player.
Today we are working with relayr on visually clean interfaces, representing live data from the connected devices in lightweight, responsive mobile applications, through a single, comprehensible illustration.
First Cargo Bike
Currently in development, the heavy duty cargo bike A-N.T. With a new type of e-motor and a steering mechanism designed specifically for this cargo bike, the A-N.T. can carry heavier loads while remaining easy to navigate.
Less Rain is not only creating the A-N.T. brand, but also actively involved in the design of the bicycle itself, aimed at the delivery industry and larger cargo fleet operators.