Like many who now work in the web design and development sphere, Martin Wecke taught himself to code as a teenager. “Back then, I was fascinated by the ease of self-publishing and the anarchic nature of web design in the age of myspace and Geocities,” he recalls. These self-taught skills later combined with a formal education in visual communication from the University of the Arts Berlin and, today, Martin’s work sits in the sweet spot between the two, “combining thoughtful graphic design with surprising forms of interaction.”
For about four years now, Martin has been running his own practice called Design Code Lab out of Berlin, a space to “create a conceptual space for my interests both in the fields of design and technology.” The crossovers of Martin’s interests are visualised on his site as an interactive map of his projects, an almost Venn diagram of how design, coding and research overlap each other in his practice.
On what excites him most about working in the web design world, Martin says: “The web with its ever-changing ecosystem of technologies and devices is definitely challenging and exciting at the same time. On the one hand, ‘the mess that’s the internet’ can sometimes be frustrating for me as a developer – like supporting older browsers and platforms. As a designer, however, it’s thrilling to follow the rise of technologies like WebGL and WebVR and to explore how they can be translated into unexpected visual effects and interactions. What I really admire about the web development community is the culture of open source and the sharing of tools and knowledge. It’s great to see that these values are more and more becoming relevant in the design sphere, too.”
While design plays a major role in Martin’s practice, prescribing his often slick aesthetic, the backbone of his projects are always led by interaction. “Often in my projects,” he explains, “the interaction and content dynamics are the starting point of the design process: How content is arranged on the screen, how elements react to user input and how the user is guided from point ‘A’ to ‘B’ lead my creative process rather than formal design parameters like type and colour.” As a result, Martin’s works are entirely engaging, capturing user interest through surprising and unexpected elements.
With projects for the likes of NoShade, a Berlin-based DJ collective that features a hypnotic use of colour that changes as you interact, or an online shop for eyewear brand Seymoure which harbours a pair of 3D glasses through which you can view the site, a personal favourite project of Martin’s is a microsite for a photography exhibition, designed and built with Johannes Arndt.
“The starting point for the design was the actual photos shown in the exhibition," says Martin on his and Johannes’ approach to the site. "Turning them into 3D landscapes based on the brightness of each pixel, we metaphorically brought back the dimensions of time and movement. Conceptually this reenacts the moment the photo was taken in and at the same time turns them into an abstract visual that works well as a teaser for the event. Controlling the rotation of the object it’s really surprising to find the right perspective in which the object reveals the original image again.”
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