Ideas, visions and concepts

»In the beginning was the idea.«

The idea or rather the outline of a concept is always at the beginning of a project. And there are some concepts which mature and grow over time, are transformed and turn out to be something completely different. 

But to have no visions won't do – the project would remain an empty shell. 


Here are some projects — some have been realized, others are still coming of age. 



Getting things done without getting the word out

article by Frank Hellenkamp


It has been a very long time since I managed to publish an article here. And it's not because there wouldn't be anything to talk about. But we are working a lot, so there is no time left to show and tell. Why? Well, because there is always a next project waiting to be finished.  


And I am sure, we are not the only ones having this problem: A lot of freelance designers and small agencies I know don't have the time or resources, to publish what they are doing regulary. Some people just shout on Twitter or on Facebook instead, but I have to admit: I like not to brag. But I think that some of the things we do are worth seeing nontheless. 


I already wanted to write about this... more than year ago. 

But this has to change – Starting right now! 

So, what were we working on?

So first, there is Screen-Pitch: 

Screen-Pitch is an online platform which enables screen-writers to present their film ideas to producers in the form of video pitches. Originally founded by Linus Foerster, Ben and I implemented based on depage-cms. 


Here you can watch the Pitch for Screen Pitch (german)

Recursive CSS

article by Frank Hellenkamp

Cascading Stylesheets and Recursion

In my rather sparse spare time I like to test various ideas and concepts upon which I stumble during my work. One of these ideas is applying Stylesheets in a way that creates graphical structures and patterns, that you would normally implement recursively in a full blown programming language. 


This works, because in CSS (Cascading!) every element inherits properties from its parent and because relative and absolute positioned elements calculate their positions based on the next relative or absolute positioned parent. 

(There is also a live-view for the examples available: — but you'll need a modern browser to see some of the examples.) 

The basic Markup

Always the same.

article by Frank Hellenkamp

Reading? On the internet?

We read an awful lot of things on our computer displays: emails, news, blogs, encyclopedias. But literature on the internet is still being treated with neglect (although there have been some attempts in this direction). 


The sites that are moderately successful often belong to the fan-fiction genre that is generally not taken serious by the established cultural scene. As far as its literal value is concerned this may be spot on, as a social phenomenon though it should be taken more seriously. 


»Die Zeit« recently complained in a dossier that not enough people read and that reader competence is dwindling. According to »Die Zeit« even books by Astrid Lindgren have to be simplified so that they can be read in certain schools. 


One can take this seriously or one can rubbish it as exaggerated and a form of cultural war that has always been fought in some way. Alternatively one could just do what might be the most pragmatic and sensible thing: Read and write, develop ones language skills and ideally have a positive influence on others. 

It's always the same. is my own modest attempt to get people to take their time, to pause for a moment and to read and reflect upon “real language”, not only information that is easily digested. 


The texts: most of them short (I call them »shorties«), some of them of medium length (e.g. »Das Hospiz«). 


The layout: As simple as possible, black and white with a discrete navigation, completely scalable and with special print style sheets so that the texts can be printed out comfortably. 


Some specific online features: 

alony // lights on/off video

article by Frank Hellenkamp

For the same band, that we already had the privilege to do the packaging for, we have now created a video. The video is based entirely on photo material and on the illustrations that were already used for the booklet. The animation was implemented in flash and then exported as a video. 

The starting sequence

Alony Lights On/Off StartsequenzThe beginning of the video on the basis of the cover for dismantling dreams

The video starts with a 16:9 variation of the cover photo of the album. Then the illustrated dream elements come to life, a white surface replaces the “real” background and the “protagonist” of the video sets foot in the dreamworld:  

She has some encounters with other characters (a neighbour, a man who is giving a child a good telling-off, a few camels, Oscar's tin drum, the love of her life whom she has to leave behind with a heavy heart, ...). On the way she falls over a few times until she finally learns to fly. 

alony // dismantling dreams

article by Frank Hellenkamp

Songs and Soundscapes

I had the privilege to design the cover and booklet of alony's new album Dismantling Dreams. 

The jazz band Alony is Efrat Alony (voice), Mark Reinke (piano, electronics) und Christian Thome (drums, electronics).  

At first we planned the booklet as a »little book«.

Originally the booklet to the CD was conceived as a small book which — parallel to the music — was meant to take the listener on a small journey to another world (Dismantling Dreams). The listener should experience the music on several levels. Each song was the basis of a different level. 


Each level should be experienced as a new space which forms the framework of an individual »narrative«. The booklet was a stepping stone to an optical and haptic experience. Therefore it was important to us that the booklet was something you could touch and sense and could be perceived as a real object which you can hold in your hand or place in front of you. 


There are two reasons why this is important to us: 

Every Day is Exactly the Same.

article by Frank Hellenkamp

We live in a box.

Or better — we are living in a number of boxes. Small and big, open and closed, some of them have holes, others are dark like in a »maulswurfshügel«. 

One of these boxes is my computer. It has a small hole through which one can see the world — it is something people call the world wide web — but when you think about it, it is just a number of other boxes you look into. 

My box. is an attempt to visualize my own box. Every five minutes a screenshot is automatically taken. And at the end of the day an average picture is computed for the respective day. 


Here an example for the average picture of January 1st, 2009 — a day I was busy with Flash (animation) and engrossed in several websites but still found the time for a game of The World of Goo


Graphically, it would not get you very far if you just took an average picture — all you would have is a rather vague grey — that is why several versions of the same picture are calculated: