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Elegance is an extra with catalogue clicks

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The web can be wacky but let's get serious for a bit. There are, naturally quite conventional information sites for architects, effectively conversions of products catalogues. One such is Erco's.

As you might expect, www.erco.com exudes elegance in greys and black and white, with terrific photography.

However, the consequence of all this minimalised stylishness is a rather slow download. The main menu is a model of simplicity. You click on, say, 'projects' and you get a list of building types. A click on one of the subheads, 'airports', produces either Stansted or Dubai with a picture of the aforementioned and a succinct description. Useful and really cool - apart from the longish wait at the beginning during which less aesthetic souls might well have switched over to Concord or iGuzzini or some other rival - if, that is, Concord had a website.

IGuzzini is at www. iguzzini. co. uk and there is a parallel site for each European country. This site loads quite speedily but a particularly elegant experience it is not. Given the time it takes to download the index, you imagine the catalogue is held deep in some Alpine vault: accessing it is a tad tedious, probably not a lot faster than grabbing the printed catalogue from the office bookshelf. But there, the fittings are quite nice.

Given the problems we have been having with hamsters, I approached Terrapin's site with some care. As one of my sources noted rather pointedly, the site is named www. terrapin-ltd. co. uk so you don't think it is about endearing aquatic creatures. Actually, you would need to know already that Terrapin makes steel-framed buildings because the home page merely abjures you to 'open your mind . . . by design', and offers half a dozen market sectors to click. Only when you click do you learn Terrapin's business and are offered the chance of looking at some examples in the current sector. The designers are not credited but this is one fast site.

Visit and emulate: the speed that is.

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