Responses by MerchantCantos.
Background: This site relaunches Larry Ellison’s philanthropic foundation and tells the story of how his success in business has influenced his approach to philanthropy. The foundation was originally founded to support biomedical research but has since broadened its remit to now include a focus on global education, improving agriculture and protecting endangered species.
Design core: We wanted to create something very personal that reflected Larry’s unique personality. The design is inspired by his love of traditional Asian art. Working with asymmetrical techniques and large colored surfaces, the site blends elements and techniques from the past with a contemporary aesthetic. The crane motif and the translucent canvas combine to give the site a handcrafted feel.
Working with a fine art illustrator, we created a series of hand-painted Japanese cranes in various positions of flight. Our concept was to utilize the cranes as the central brand element, representing Larry Ellison’s ever-evolving perspective. Different paintings of the cranes are used at the top of each section of the site, supporting the narrative and telling a visual story as the reader scrolls through.
Inspired by traditional silk painting techniques, we also wanted to give the site a textural feel. In addition, bold colors, transparency and overlapping layers create a layout that gives the homepage real depth and character. The transparency also makes the bird denoting the next chapter visible as the reader scrolls through, making for an engaging user experience.
Challenges: One of the key challenges we faced during the build was retaining our discipline in maintaining the quality of the layouts and the pockets of negative space, which offset the text and content. Following some initial prototyping and tests, we decided to use a fully fluid grid with only one breakpoint. This approach ensures we retain the proportions of the design and integrity of the lockups, regardless of what screen or device a viewer is using.
Navigation structure: The original concept was focused on a one-page website, but as the project progressed, we recognized that additional pages would be required. In keeping with our desire to keep the user experience and navigation as simple as possible—and our wish to maintain the overarching aesthetic of the site—we decided to make the colored layers animate out to reveal the subpages underneath. This was an effective way to retain the visual focus on the homepage, while also giving the reader a clear differentiation between the main narrative and supporting pages.