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Matt Spiegler/Andrea Stein, programmers
Knowawall, Inc., project design and development
SHSK'H, client

Launch Site

"A beautifully minimal UI that doesn't sacrifice usability or fun. I only wish there were more albums so I could click around more!" —juror Michelangelo Capraro

"The display of the information is impressively turntable-like. And, I love that the name is whispered as the site loads" —juror Jason Ring

Overview: SHSK'H is an avant-garde classical music label; this site showcases its diverse roster and serves as the exclusive (and free) distribution point for all releases. It complements the unique and immersive nature of the music while still being simple to use. As a result, the experience of using the site becomes as much of an attraction as the content it presents. A rotary music selector/player makes choosing different releases and tracks engaging but also provides direct access to the content without toomuch interlude. Scaleability for future releases was a key concern, so the site is equipped with extensive administrative functions that allow the client to add audio, releases, customize release color palettes and edit text.

• From concept to completion the site took ten weeks to produce.
• It was important to be able to stream the music as well as download it so both options are supported.
• The site received 25,000 visitors during the first 3 months.

Comments by Knowawall:
What inspired the rotary-style player? "Our designs were inspired by the simple geometry of vinyl LPs and the colors and geometric patterns of avant-garde record covers. The circular pinwheel plays off the ideas of discs and rotations. The spokes of the pinwheels, stretching the full breadth of the screen and responding to mouse movements, engage the user with play and the interplay of unexpected geometric forms as the lines cross and interact."

What was the most challenging aspect of the project? "The most challenging aspect, unexpectedly, was to build a site dedicated to music without relying on the conventions of traditional music applications. Our original designs utilized the pinwheel on the homepage but transitioned to a straightforward track display and controller once album views were selected. But we, and the client, were dissatisfied with this approach, so we went back to the drawing board in pursuit of a solution that carried the unique pinwheel interface through to the audio player. The Flash 9 Player and ActionScript 3 offered unique opportunities in working with sound. The new Sound Spectrum method reads audio data at run-time, providing a breakdown of the sound signature and allowing for complex audio-driven animations. The sound waves cascade along the pinwheel lines as the track plays, gradually melting back down into the track line as they approach center, allowing the user to interact with the music on visual and aural levels."

How did your relationship with the client evolve over the course of the project? "SHSK'H is a label with a dedication to a spirit of experimentation and innovation in musical forms—simultaneously rigorous and playful. While developing the site we sought to carry that through into design and functionality. With many clients one must restrain the desire for experimentation and unconventional designs, but with Igor and Jody of SHSK'H it was never a problem; they encouraged us to think outside the constraints of a traditional site and continuously pushed us to present them with something unexpected. They became an important part of the creative process."



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