We just founded our own police department, the LRPD, with a special task force fighting online graffiti…
Please give us a brief bio of the Less Rain team.
Less Rain is a creative new media agency based in London and Berlin. Founded in 1997, Less Rain has quickly established an outstanding portfolio, including work for Nike, BMG, Sony Playstation and Red Bull.
The broader network of Less Rain consists of over thirty members, encompassing designers, programmers, illustrators, sound engineers, photographers, architects and artists.
Key Less Rain members:
VA: Vassilios Alexiou, Founder, London MD, programming.
LE: Lars Eberle, Founder, Berlin MD, creative director
CS: Carsten Schneider, UK creative director
TM: Thomas Meyer, Technical Director
GM: Gordon Midwood, programming.
Q. What does the team do for inspiration?
GM: Keep our eyes open.
VA: We look at how people interact with the physical world and each other and then we abstract and apply this knowledge to our software interfaces.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
Q. What software couldn't you live without?
CS: Super Mario 64. Any office/design package is easily replaceable.
TM: My Browser.
VA: I can easily live without any software but I couldn't live without music.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
CS: Being where we are now without ever having had to compromise much, really. But I'm not sure if that's an achievement or sheer luck.
TM: Having an independent company that survived for 5 years and still being able to do things for fun.
VA: Not selling out or closing down, which is what happened to almost all new media agencies in this country.
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
VA: This is a bit difficult to answer so we'll pass.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
TM: Our Lessrain shop: http://shop.lessrain.com
CS: We just founded our own police department, the LRPD, with a special task force fighting online graffiti at www.vandalsquad.com . We got tremendous response and a lot of traffic so we're quite excited about it; we're constantly adding new features to it.
What effect on traffic do your new designs have?
TM: Well, www.vandalsquad.org is receiving about 40.000 unique users per month.
Who is your target audience?
CS: Our target audience differs from project to project. For the same reason we try to create a new visual style for every site we do.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
TM: The LESS C.H.A.T. http://chat.lessrain.com/urbandrift. We have been developing it for almost 2 years and we still keep making it better.
What area of web design lacks the most?
CS: Humour, warmth, and self-irony. Flash-designer portfolios certainly lack a clear navigation and a bigger type.
TM: Conceptual work.
VA: Most websites lack a concrete metaphor. Design agencies always produce style guides that define how an identity is applied. Web design agencies however, very rarely produce specifications of how visual design, sound and interaction should be applied as the website grows. A metaphor is usually a very straightforward way to communicate this.
What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?
TM: Fishy - www.lessrain.com
CS: The first pop-up you see there was originally not there. We just needed something to re-direct the traffic to our .co.uk and .de portfolio sites, but I guess we'll change that soon to something more interesting.
VA: Unofficially, the first one was Cyderspace (www.lessrain.com/apple), winner of the 1997 D&AD student award. Although Less Rain was not formed yet, it is definitely a Less Rain project and pretty cutting edge for the time.
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
CS: Not yet. The planting of a tree is not in sight either.
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
CS: Of course not. Well, maybe in a museum for retro-website collectors.
TM: Forever? No way. I give it a few years life.
GM: It needs to learn to behave more politely before it gets invited to stay.
VA: Even if it is, we are not counting on it.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
V.A.: A good design school is very important. It is possible to manage without it but it takes a special person to do it. Going through an academic institution is not so much about being trained, it is mostly about learning how to learn and communicate. It kind of prepares you for life as an adult.
When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?
V.A.: Putting work online and getting coverage from the press - that's still the easiest thing to do for people to like us. Going out? Not a chance – too busy.
What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?
V.A: A ticket to Paris for a few days.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
GM: Try to realise your own ideas.
CS: It is important to not focus on software-specific skills or techniques. Once a certain software becomes obsolete, most of the knowledge oneself has about it is rendered useless. It's always better to be able to understand abstract concepts, and to come up with creative solutions.
TM: I couldn't agree more. General programming skills are much more important than Flash skills.
VA: Study graphic design first and stay away from computers for as long as you can.
What type of overcoat do you guys wear when Flashing, basically are you labels men?
CS: Of course our own t-shirts, from shop.lessrain.com. Luckily we don't have to pay for them. Otherwise an eclectic mix from catwalk to charity shop, combined with Gucci glasses.
VA: The only labels my clothes have are names of bands.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
VA: Stop the war. I think that's pretty wise.