The Making Of

Fountain of Youth Gold

It took a lot of thought and months of work to build this website. I thought it would be nice to share a little of that journey.
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We built our first Fountain of Youth website back in 2012. We used it for over 10 years, with its Story of Monkey and its cheerful little tune. In that time the internet changed a lot and so a new one was well overdue.

The very first step was to go to see the how and where of it, to stick my nose into every detail of the production. After that trip I became convinced that the most important story to tell is the one of the place in which our drink is made: the magical, mysterious and powerful country of Thailand. 

We can make coconut water and I can draw monkeys, but we can’t build websites. So the next step was to find the perfect collaborator. I searched and searched and finally I found the right one, a website designer called Samuel Day. We chatted and it soon became clear that this was very much a meeting of minds, with strong, shared opinions about what is interesting and what is not. 

We would develop the conceptual ideas together. Sam would design and build the site and I would handle the illustrations. Sam would build the site using Webflow and we’d use Miro as a tool to work collaboratively and remotely from one another since we are based in different countries.

We laid a few ground rules. We definitely wanted to make something out of the ordinary; a memorable, immersive, discoverable experience rather than a conventional information-driven site that is the norm now. We wanted to make something that wasn’t instantly understood or super-convenient to use, something that forces us to think a little. After all, if everything is easy then everything is bland. All the information and transparency would be there… you’d just need to look for it, like in a game or a story. We wanted to come up with an experience rather than an explanation. We didn’t want to be concerned with analytics and data because if you use empirical, statistical information to lead the creativity, again, you almost always end up with something dull and homogenous. We wanted to find a more grown up, mysterious Fountain of Youth, something past the beaches and palm trees. And definitely no green coconuts! We’ve seen enough of those right?

We looked through lots of books about Thailand. Not the things we know of - sandy beaches and street food - but the more unseen side: art, magic tattoos, the occult, Buddhism, holy people, sacred places and temples. 

A lot of our customers use the Fountain of Youth after sport; running, yoga, crossfit, indoor climbing and so on. Therefore the human body felt like an important territory for us. Doing all that research, we often came across representations of the body as almost structural, portrayed as a microcosm of the wider environment or universe or as a container for other kinds of symbols such as the 5 elements. This works in reverse, for when you then look at a pagoda, temple or stupa you then see it too as a representation of the body! The temple as a kind of body is expressed literally when you see the vast statues of Buddha which are both body and temple…

The statues you see are often golden so what is the meaning of that? The gold signifies the sun, purity, happiness, knowledge and of course enlightenment. In Thailand they will apply gold leaf to statues as a dedication and sign of respect.

The temples you find in Thailand are often highly syncretic. You can find references from religious cultures from all over Asia. In fact, this integration of external influences into many aspects of local culture is quintessentially Thai, which is why we also opened ourselves to inspiration from further a field too.

In the end we came up with the idea of following our Monkey going through a golden temple. Of course, with his superpowers, he would start from the top and come out of the bottom. This would echo the journey of a drink through the body. Monkey enters through the third eye and comes out at the feet of the statue/temple and it’s only right at the end that we reveal that this temple is in fact the body of the monkey who is exploring it!

We thought that each level of the temple should have a different use and that the various spaces should relate to the categories of information we wish to communicate. So for example, the dojo room to train the body is also the FAQ place where you can learn and train the mind. Thailand has a very strong ghost culture, which is of course fascinating to us. We just had to make our temple a bit haunted!

Over months we slowly built up an unconventional but easy to navigate website, which works mainly using scrolling down and up. There’s a navigation tip to follow the Monkey, and by clicking on him when you see him, you will be taken to the relevant information. There are 4 talismans which function as a kind of menu and take you to the specific level you might be looking for. There is a Vajra cursor which helps you locate all the little easter eggs that are hidden away there. 

The colours we used are all based on the 3 brand colours of red, blue and green with gold added in. The illustration style was inspired by the decoration you can often see painted onto trucks in Thailand. Colour gradients on svg artwork can crush website performance, so this way lets us have a kind of gradient effect without breaking the internet. 

After the site came together, we felt like music was going to be a vital ingredient to make it feel more immersive. We reached out to our buddy Jeremy Black who took a look at it and came back with the perfect musical response to what he encountered. 

We hope you enjoy exploring our new website as much as we enjoyed making it!