An interview with CG's creative director, Nathan Riley
Just like Nightingale isn’t any ordinary communication agency, the new website isn’t your standard webpage either. Green Chameleon, an award-winning design agency based in Bristol, created a 3D particle system resulting in an eye-catching browsing experience. Nathan Riley, Green Chameleon’s Design Director, tells us more about it.
Hey Nathan, let’s go back to the beginning. How did your collaboration with Nightingale start?
Nathan: ‘Nightingale got in touch with us about two months ago: they wanted a new portfolio website. Quite early on we established that they weren’t looking for a standard website, but they wanted a website that reflects the quality and level of detail and innovation of the projects they do. This new website mirrors that.’
Can you guide us through the initial design process?
‘We firstly spent time looking into the work they execute. From that we put down two or three concepts that we presented to them. All of them had very different features: some of them were more project-based, so the first thing you would see when entering the website, was their work. The last concept we put forward, was a bit of a wild card: we were pushing the boundaries of what we could do by designing a particle system. The idea behind that was to showcase Nightingale’s approach to projects, their forward-thinking kind of attitude. Instead of just visualizing that approach, we wanted to create something that’s engaging and interactive. On a technical standpoint, the concept is impressive. The mechanics keep people on the website, keep them interested and straight away they realize: this is not just any website, this is very much an experience.’
Tell us more about this 3d particle object…
‘Essentially, it’s thousands of very smart particles mapped onto a wing shape. It’s quite a literal visualization of Nightingale’s bird-logo. But we tried to make sure it’s not just a bird flying, but an abstract version of it, so we focused on the wings itself. The wings are flapping up and down, making a flying motion; in that motion, the particles are coming off of the wing shape. With that, it’s a 3D object: you can see different angles, it’s like a free world we’ve created.’
Did you encounter any creative challenges during this project?
‘The 3d particle system is an out of the box solution, meaning it hasn’t necessarily been done before the way we do it. So yes, there was a lot of research needed. After settling on the initial design, we had to move into the code and development-side, so: creating the design in a code-base. It was challenging to map the particles to a 3d-animation file, which is not something that has been done before. But somehow we managed to pull it off, within a very tight time frame of 3 months: a challenge on its own.’
How did you experience the collab?
‘Nightingale definitely challenged us, but we welcomed that challenge. We don’t often work with other agencies in this matter. We might work with them on a client project, but creating a website for a communication studio like Nightingale is a unique project for us. Very early in the project we could tell that they weren’t after an average looking website; similarly to us, they weren’t interested in the standard. That pushed us to go hard at this and come up with some original and forward thinking, hence the particle system. When we discussed our initial ideas, we noticed that Bram and Stijn were on the same page as us. That made it a smooth process. Lots of the time, when you’re dealing with clients, you have to do a hard sell: why are my ideas good? What are the ins and outs of this? But these guys just got it on another level, which was nice.’
So it’s quite clear that you guys design awesome websites. What else do you do?
‘We’re a true multidisciplinary agency. We don’t just do websites; our service skills span 3d-design, graphics, packages, identity, branding, as well as websites. So with that I suppose our client list is quite extensive and varies a lot per project. For instance, we work with the New York Times, we do animated graphics for them. But we also work for smaller clients, such as a local gym company in Bristol. We do packaging, branding and website design for them. We don’t really discriminate, we like to work with all different sizes and types of clients. We like new things and work on various projects all at once.’
On a more general note: do you feel that this website concept reflects the the future of website design?
‘What we did for Nightingale is not applicable for every website, meaning it’s not necessarily relevant. But if you look at the way in which web technologies and browsers are evolving, the support for 3d-space visualization is increasing at a rapid rate. With that comes a lot more opportunity for design and there are less boundaries which you might have had before. It’s literally another dimension we can work in. For any forward thinking company it’s an exciting phase. Not every website needs it. But if you want to come across in a certain way – let’s say as an innovative, contemporary and interesting brand – it definitely is a future-proof way of building your website.’