Responses by Stefan Lechleitner, founder and creative director, Huangart.
Background: Ceramics manufacturer KARAK produces handmade tiles in raku, an ancient Japanese technique. The ambition was to create a new website after KARAK’s eleven years of operation, one that would not only represent the ceramics manufacturer but, above all, shows its work and enables interested parties to dive into and discover its ceramic world.
Design core: Our approach was to present the beauty of the product and the claim for design and craftsmanship in a simple, clear structure while still providing detailed insight. In doing so, we chose sophisticated technologies and creative approaches. We created a digital workbench to exhibit the numerous variations of KARAK tiles. Using this tool, users might combine different ornaments, colors and shapes to discover the craftsmanship of raku tiles.
Favorite details: The tiles’ unique diversity can be tried out on the Workbench, the Collection page offers an overview of the individual components, and on the Handcrafts page, visitors get closer to the manufacturing process. Moreover, tile combinations can be favorited on the workbench page or gallery to simplify the shopping process.
Time constraints: We worked on the project for a long time and kept improving the details. The contract work became an ideological project at some point. By the end of the implementation phase, we had the misfortune of a Chrome update causing us quite some trouble and delaying the release. The fact that we were not limited by time was both a blessing and a curse. The harmony of the whole project was so positive that we decided to take the time we needed to achieve the desired result.
New lessons: KARAK’s site was one project where we could push our limits. But we grew enormously and learned what it takes to be able to realize such projects. We didn’t make it easy for ourselves in any area of the website and tried to achieve the best possible results everywhere, be it in the layout, the content or the technical implementation.
Special navigational features: Whenever I return to the site myself, I’m fascinated by how the three main areas—Collection, Gallery and Workbench—are intertwined and how intuitively one can switch between these views. This makes it extremely easy for visitors to dive into the world of KARAK.
Special technical features: We aimed solely to use open-source software for this project. KARAK’s front-end logic is based on Angular and follows a modular approach. For the back end, we implemented a headless CMS on top of WordPress using the power of the Advanced Custom Fields plugin. Our choice was mainly driven by its intuitive GUI for content auditors. Moreover, our developers like WordPress’s powerful API, how it can be extended in many ways and its performant caching techniques.
Using this stack, we implemented lazy loading throughout the site and, hence, improved the overall user experience. We also used Locomotive Scroll to trigger our animations and three.js to display 3-D tiles.