.

Our next big thing is certainly the most exciting project in years - we are setting up an office in Tokyo.

  Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

My career path was set when I saw a PET 2001, sometime in the 80's. I couldn't believe my luck when 'interface designer' became a job title, rather than an obscure hobby.

In the mid-90's I studied graphic design at the Merz Akademie in Stuttgart, which was one of the first schools to offer a new media design course in Germany.

When I saw Less Rain's first portfolio in 1998, "Walter, the Fish", I decided to move to London.

After graduating from the London College with an MA in Interactive Media I joined Less Rain as a designer.

I am now one of the directors, and mainly responsible for the Red Bull UK websites.

  What do you do for inspiration?

It's the everyday life really that is most inspiring, and my colleagues of course.

  Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

Matthew Mahon's portfolio, simple, engaging, funny.

The Saab Saibu Tour, even my parents could navigate this one. And they drive Saab, so they'd probably like it.

And for your German readers – I really like BildBlog, dissecting daily the lies of German tabloid Bild.

  What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?

Being where I am. But that is hardly my personal achievement. More something of a team effort.

  What software couldn't you live without?

My favourite piece of software is definitely Photoshop. But I was working as a designer before, without computers, so I'm pretty sure I could do without it if I really really had to.

  What projects do you have in the pipeline?

Our next big thing is certainly the most exciting project in years – we are setting up an office in Tokyo. Which brings me back to question 2 – this will certainly provide an ample amount of inspiration.

  Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?

I don't have an 'all time top three', but if I have to name some, well: Eikes Grafischer Hort, Wefail, and Group94 all have a solid portfolio of exceptional work.

  What effect on traffic do your new designs have?

It takes the right mix of design, interaction, content, sound, user experience, technology, and marketing.

Most internet users don't really care for a specific design.

My parents for example still don't really understand what I'm actually doing for a living. It's just us designers who value design so much, because we love our jobs.

  Who is your target audience?

We have quite a varied client list, so that changes all the time depending on the project.

  What area of web design lacks the most?

Humour.

  What did your very first site look like? Is it still online?

I wrote it with Notepad for the first version of the Mosaic browser – so this must have been in 1993.

To save on filesize, all graphics and headlines were tile-based, created from a set of small two-colour GIF's. They looked a bit like from the Büro Destruct Designer tool.

It's not online anymore, and if I have a backup it's on a now extinct medium, in my parent's basement.

  Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?

I'd love to, but unfortunately I'm not good at telling stories.

  What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?

I usually start designing in Photoshop or Freehand, and then just copy everything into Flash.

So the hardest thing in Flash until now was probably pressing command-v.

  Do you think Flash is here to stay?

For a little while, sure. But it's the third authoring system I am using now, after HyperCard and Director, one day something different will come up.

  What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?

Many people have.

But college gives you a lot more freedom to think and experiment, and you'll find more like-minded people there than in any work situation, so my advice to anyone would be to not miss out.

  When your company was just getting started, what did you find was most effective for getting new clients?

Delivering good work to get word-of-mouth. Which is what we're still trying to do.

The most effective way though is to know the right people in the right places.

  How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?

What influenced me most were always the people around me, at college, and later here in London and at Less Rain.

My advice would be to get influenced by the way people think, rather by their design style.

  What is the most expensive thing you've bought in the last week?

Dinner at the Fat Duck. In the end the bill was an amazing £250 per head.

  What type of overcoat do you wear when Flashing, basically are you a labels man?

As long as I can wash it in the machine without shrinking the thing two sizes I don't care what the label says.

  Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

Buy cheap sweaters, they shrink less. A family member I won't name here just ruined all my woolen sweaters in the tumble dryer.

  It's been a privilege, thanks very much.

Cheers, Rob. Keep up the good work with FWA!


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