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Sexy stone is still a chore to explore

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This column doesn't often take peeks at commercial websites - that's partly because they are rarely anything like as intriguing as architects' sites. However, there are always exceptions to the rule.

Architect Richard Pain has just sent me a 'snazzy website for your pleasure. Who knew stone could be sexy?' And indeed, Kirkstone's web designer has really sexed-up www. kirkstone. com.

The visual theme is the Froebel solids, sphere, cube and cylinder. Alright, on the site the cylinder is actually a pyramid. Maybe Froebel, maybe not.

Whatever, the three shapes are used on the homepage to symbolise the three choices: pyramid means skip the introduction, sphere for a Flash plug-in, the cube for site entry.

There follows a lot of meaningful text swimming about nicely that then coalesces into the company name with interlinked wireframes of the three shapes. Then up come the shapes as big grey solids. You idly move the cursor across the screen and various planes of the solids light up in different colours.

At the same time as the circle goes acid green, for example, the words 'Latest News' slide in from the right. Click on the dark-green side of the pyramid and across slides the word 'Clients' and the page goes green and there is a list. And so on for 'Product', 'Order Brochure', etc.

In the 'Gallery' section you have a choice of domestic and commercial, then interior and exterior expandable thumbnails. And on the 'Contacts' page you get an envelope endlessly unfolding itself into a paper aeroplane and flying off to the right. As 'Clients' or 'Product' slides in from the right, the selection of shapes - now small, disassembled and in grey - slides in from the left with the client or product shape in colour. Among these shapes is a mysterious triangular segment that fails to respond to clicking.

Maybe this is where the designer hid his/her name. Quite right that it should be hidden. Because, despite the visual pleasures of the site, it can't be viewed in anything other than Internet Explorer.

sutherland. lyall@btinternet. com

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