Leo Abrahams is many things: an extraordinary guitarist with hundreds of sessions to his credit, record producer for artists including Paolo Nutini and Wild Beasts, renowned songwriter and composer of film soundtracks.
He approached us to create a new website which, as well as being beautiful to look at and explore, would allow him to easily organise and present his 230+ recordings.
Leo is a huge admirer of Chinese artist Lui Shou-kwan, so we used a series of his “lotus” paintings as our source of inspiration for the colour palette.
The next decision was which typeface to use. It’s no secret that we are fans of London-based foundry Fontsmith and as Leo lives in east London we thought – as a joke to start with – that we should use their FS Hackney typeface for the site. When we saw “refined”, “meticulous” and “versatile” listed amongst the qualities of the font, it seemed a perfect fit for Leo. So, giggling into our typographical sleeves, we tried it, and by a curiously happy coincidence, it looked fantastic – aesthetically perfect for the design.
With the colours and typography principles in place, we were able to press on and design the site. We took care to make sure that Leo’s work was always the focus of attention, and that the navigation was effortless for the viewer.
We discovered that on top of everything else, Leo was also a fine photographer. By letting him upload his great images, and writing code to create random background selections, we were able to develop a homepage which really expressed his personality.
Behind the scenes
The biggest technical challenge was managing Leo’s extensive discography. He wanted to be able to order the recordings independently for each section; for example, when viewing the Production section, he wanted certain records to be prominent, and if looking at the Guitar section, for other records to come to the fore.
Steve decided to build a custom plugin for WordPress with an AngularJS user interface to handle this task. On seeing the system in action, Leo said, “Wow! amazing! it feels like having a really tidy sock drawer!” The application was immediately nicknamed “Sock Drawer” and remains so to this day.
I’m uncharacteristically proud when I look at what you’ve built for me. I feel like I can point to it and say this is me.’
Leo played electric guitar on the latest Florence + The Machine record, “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful”, as did our very own Steve Jones. They also both played on Brian Eno’s album “Another Day On Earth”. Small world.