As a first-time visitor to sketch, I am immediately taken aback by the intimacy of the space, particularly in The Glade, where we were invited to enjoy a spot of breakfast and trial the new website. The carpet is thick and green, crafted to look like a meadow of luscious grass, and rotating mirrors placed where the walls meets the ceiling reflect twinkling coloured lights, giving the whole room a magical touch. Bathed in shades of fuchsia, lilac and green, the room has the ambience of a woodland forest, acting as a stark contract to the visuals we explore when trialling sketch's digital platform on various iPads dotted around the room.
Whilst exploring the visuals and navigation, it is clear to see that Hato and sketch wanted to move away from traditional website characteristics when developing the new platform. Rather than seeing a traditional menu, search bar and drop-downs, the homepage consists of five floating objects, each representing one of the rooms within sketch London. Despite being seemingly randomly shaped 3D models, each is easily recognisable due to their distinct patterns; The Glade's object being covered with the same pattern as the carpet we are standing on. When one of the spinning shapes is selected, the user is taken to a unique interactive mini-game, including playing Jenga with elements of an afternoon tea on a tea tray, designing a soundtrack by tapping brightly coloured blocks, drawing in neon light to create a 3D spinning object, and more. Along with appealing to the child in all of us, the platform gives users a real idea of the differences between each area within sketch, and invites visitors to be creative in their browsing, forging their own journey through the site. The booking process in itself is unlike anything provided to customers before, with the details inputted to make the booking (party size, date, time etc) creating a unique avatar object, different for each visitor and resulting in a completely one-of-a-kind and personal booking process which is a novelty in itself.
The Booking Avatar
“We are celebrating 15 years of sketch this year and wanted a website that reflects everything sketch still represents - fun, playfulness, experimentation, forward-thinking. With this website we wanted to create something special" Mourad Mazouz, owner of sketch London, explains. Ken Kirton, founder of design studio Hato, talks us through the design process, expressing their emphasis on 'learning through play' and the importance of letting users explore the platform, and looking around without following a forced journey.“We want users to have playful interactions that capture the excitement of being at sketch, either igniting a memory of the place or the imagination of what it could be. sketch is a really unique place."