.

I was pretty proud of the first website I built with something like the Tripod Website Wizzard, when I was 13 years old. But it never had more then 10 visitors, I guess.

Please give us a brief bio of yourself.

Hi, I’m Kai, a digital creative director working at Jung von Matt/Neckar (http://www.jvm-neckar.de) in the beautiful south of Germany. Here at Jung von Matt/Neckar, I lead interactive and integrated projects for clients like Nike Running, Mercedes-Benz, Bosch and Bitburger.

I studied media design a while ago, made my way into advertising, but still love to go back to university now and then and lecture about good design.

What do you do for inspiration?

Get out and do something completely different.

Please list 3 of your favourite sites.

It’s not really a website, but I recently really enjoy using Path (https://path.com/) because of its lovely UI. I’m a huge Twitter (http://www.twitter.com) fan, just because it’s fast and short and I love looking at foreign places at Flickr (http://www.flickr.com).

How do you relax or unwind?

I try to do things that have nothing to do with my job. And I try to go running as often as possible. 

If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?

Good question. I don’t know. In my dreams I would be a professional snowboarder, traveling the world, always looking for the best spots. But I doubt that this would be realistic ;-)

What software could you not live without?

I guess that’s probably the software running on our coffee machine.

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

North Kingdom (http://www.northkingdom.com): No surprise probably, but they have an incredible level of production. So I guess I have to mention them.

AKQA (http://www.akqa.com): There aren’t many agencies that push the line so continuously as AKQA. Projects such as the Heineken Star Player or Fiat Eco Drive really change industry standards.

Farfar (http://www.farfar.com/) (RIP): Every project produced by Farfar had such a great sense of humor combined with great ideas and perfect production level. Still can’t believe they don’t exist anymore.

What area of web design lacks the most?

I gave away my home computer a year ago. No more computer tower or laptop standing around, which is great. Since then I only surf on my iPad and my iPhone at home. It actually works pretty well, most of the time. But still a lot of website owners are not aware that there are more devices than computer stations and laptops. So in my opinion the whole mobile market is just at the beginning but getting more and more important in a very short time.

Are there any websites that have shone through as being pioneering in the last 5 years or so?

Sure!

North Kingdom’s “Get The Glass“ (http://www.gettheglass.com) was a fantastic milestone in terms of online games. The NikeiD (http://www.nikeid.com) site by R/GA (http://www.rga.com) pushed the limits for product customization. “The Wilderness Downtown“ (http://thewildernessdowntown.com/) by Google & Chris Milk is a great example of how new technology can create something completely new. And of course, the “Nike Better World“ (http://www.nikebetterworld.com/) website. Since then, I can see scrolling websites everywhere.

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

It looked horrible! Luckily it's not online anymore.

I hope.

Let me check that...

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

I’ve proofread the German version of Rob’s “The Internet Case Study Book“ – that was enough for me. Haha.

The web is getting out of the web. Do you find that thinking in digital solutions alone hinders you? Do you feel the urge to solve the problem using all mediums necessary?

Do you feel the urge to solve the problem using all mediums necessary?

I guess you always have to think of what makes the most sense for the job definition. Is it a digital solution? Fine! Or is it something analogue maybe? Also fine. I guess we have to get away from thinking in strict silos such as “digital vs. analogue”. Because our clients do so as well. They have certain problems or job definitions, and they want the solution that fits the most. No matter if it’s digital or not. That’s also why we at Jung von Matt/Neckar work in integrated teams:  So we can always look for the best solution without being restricted by the medium.

Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?

I was pretty proud of the first website I built with something like the Tripod Website Wizzard, when I was 13 years old. But it never had more then 10 visitors, I guess.

Regarding my client projects, the one I am most proud of is a very recent one:

In Fall 2011 Nike launched the Vapor Flash Jacket in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. A running jacket that is unique, because it fully reflects. Every runner wearing it is safer, since the Nike Vapor Flash Jacket makes him visible in the dark.

Our idea was “Catch the Flash” – a chase that made the invisible visible. On the dark streets of Vienna and at the same time online.  50 Nike Runners, the Flashrunners, wore Vapor Flash Jackets. The whole of Vienna was chasing them in the streets. Because those flashing most of the Flashrunners with their cameras and thereby revealing their jacket numbers, won a 10,000 euro platinum bar. Simultaneously, the rest of the world took part on our microsite, since all 50 Flashrunners transferred their GPS data to the “Catch the Flash Online Game” in real time by using an app.

So it’s not only a website, but a very unique on- and offline experience with a strong digital focus. The whole project contained a lot of technology, local imponderables, and we had a very strict and short timing. So the whole team did an amazing job to realize this.

Do you think Flash is here to stay?

I’m pretty sure that Flash is here to stay for another while. Probably not forever. But who knows.

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

Since I give lectures at a design school, I personally think that a solid design education is something very good and important. You get to know a lot of things you probably wouldn’t just by yourself, you broaden your horizon and you build up a network, which is a very important aspect for your future career.

However, I don’t think you have to go to design or graphic school to be a good designer. It always depends on your own personality and on your own curiosity, passion and, of course, talent. I’ve worked with some very talented designers, who never saw a design school from the inside, and on the other hand with people, who went to a good design school but had hardly any talent. So I guess you can’t generalize.

What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?

Definitely a Land Rover Defender (http://images.google.com/images?um=1&hl=de&tbs=isch:1&sa=1&q=Land+Rover+Defender&aq=f&aqi=g6&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=&start=0). It's just so much fun to drive off-road with this car...

How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?

I try to read and surf a lot. But it’s getting more and more difficult to find the time. Luckily I have some fantastic team members that also keep me updated with all the latest trends and stuff.

What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?

For a long time the Nordics were really exciting to me. For some reason they were, or probably still are, a few steps ahead compared to the rest of Europe in terms of innovation. 

There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?

I was a huge LEGO and LEGO Technic fan when I was a kid (I am still a huge fan though) – I really would like to do some kind of web driven, online/offline interactive LEGO installation project one day. Or something that heads in this direction. ;-)

What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?

Hopefully, a lot of challenging and interesting projects. But I’m pretty sure it will.

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

Not expensive, but the last thing (http://www.43einhalb.com/nike-t-shirt-futura-extra-bold-navy-orange-4462) I bought, I guess. And yes, it only works for design geeks probably.

Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?

Stay curious. And friendly.

It has been a privilege, thanks very much

It’s been a pleasure. Thank you.


Links

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That's me.
That's me.

Catch The Flash for Nike.
Catch The Flash for Nike.

Catch The Flash for Nike.
Catch The Flash for Nike.

Catch The Flash for Nike.
Catch The Flash for Nike.

Mercedes-Benz Tweet Fleet.
Mercedes-Benz Tweet Fleet.

Club der Töchter for Nike.
Club der Töchter for Nike.

Driven by Fashion for Mercedes-Benz
Driven by Fashion for Mercedes-Benz

Trashtalk for Nike.
Trashtalk for Nike.

Website for recom.
Website for recom.

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