Aesthetics and graphic design seem to take a back seat to workability and programming excellence in many developments. From an engineering standpoint, this is logical when we talk about usability, but users want beauty as part of their experience too. I searched the Web today to find some of the most strikingly beautiful designs that are not only visually “sweet”, but cutting edge in function as well. Flash projects are of course some of the most beautiful, so for the sake of beauty we will not worry about load times today.
Saizen Media Studios is one of the world’s most acclaimed design firms. Their cinematic and highly detailed work is second to none for many. Highly detailed art is the International calling card for an extraordinary group of artists, engineers, programmers and of course animators there. With offices in Italy and Russia, Saizen’s latest project for Toshiba (below), reflects their ingenuity in both interactive and contextual design.
sevenedge Interactive Media is a design agency founded by Frederiek Pascal and Dries Schaballie. Their sites reflects great skill in creating beauty, interactivity as well as engineered exactness and detail. A very impressive portfolio page (below) illustrates projects from Ubi Soft’s Rainbow Six to VT4’s Temptation Island (also below).
This media company creates everything from viral games to microsites, logos and complete websites. From what I could see, every aspect of sevenedge’s work carries the same artistic balance. The only aspect of this design firms work I could find lacking was their company blog – a little dull on the cutting edge here.
Pixel Criminals is one of the most interesting design companies I ran across today. There home site is listed on virtually every publication about design on the Web as far as I can tell, and to be totally honest, theirs may be the most beautiful. Unfortunately for the “want to be beautiful” website owners out there, it does not appear as if PC has very many clients or works in progress.
The best example of their work I could find was a striking minimalistic site for RussianBodyArt. Designed around CMS, the site features a Flash, XML gallery perfectly joined with the dark understated elegance of the theme. Pixel Criminals is proof that Web design is art however few clients have darkened their door. I suspect they are doing work for clients who wish to remain anonymous, as such talent seldom goes unrewarded.
2Advanced Studios is the most visually and technically stunning of the sites listed. 2Advanced was founded by Eric Jordan, Tony Novak and John Carroll in 1999. The studio’s client list reads like a “who’s who” of the digital world including Eidos, Ford Motor Company, Lucas Arts, Nintendo, Adobe and countless others. 2Advanced Quantum of Solace Game involvement (below) illustrates clearly, the company’s continued leadership in the design arts.
The preceding examples of Web design work may not be everyone’s picks, but they are indicative of the creators of some of the most beautiful websites in the world. They show us that advanced vector graphics, flash, and other programming and engineering wizardry do go hand in hand with aesthetically compelling imagery and animation. The resultant works are simply art by definition, beautiful both in form and function. I know that there are so many others, and invite the reader to submit their favorite examples. Web development has evolved light years beyond cookie cutter Web pages and primitive applications. The world’s greatest developers are artists in every sense; the best see the Web as a canvas in motion – a living work.