Monday 13 June 2016
I have just completed a new logo and business card design for the lovely Jane Crisp. Jane’s signature piece are her beautiful trugs which she makes from steam bent ash, cherry and oak. In her hands, however, this very traditional craft process produces strikingly contemporary designs. The shapes are fluid and sculptural, and the inclusion of flashes of brass panels and copper fixings contrast with the texture and colour of the wood.
Jane has an excellent understanding of her brand and her target audience, which made the briefing process very straightforward. In her brief she highlighted the juxtaposition of traditional techniques and contemporary design, as well as her clean and simple designs, and their sculptural and textural forms. She was able to profile her clients, which magazines they read, their interests and typical ages, as well as the insightful view that her products act as ‘a form of refreshment for city dwellers’ as well as connecting with rural customers.
Jane also had a good idea of the colour palette that she wanted to use (soft greys, greens, and blues – no black) and the thoughts on typefaces. She particularly wanted her logo to be round, or rounded, in shape.
The logo needed to work in a variety of situations, including her website and online profiles, packaging, stickers and on show stand plinths. In fact, the deadline for this project was driven by Jane’s appearance at the hugely popular annual Craft Festival in Bovey Tracy in Devon this weekend, making the turnaround time on the project quite short.
I began by creating a range of five design options. These used a range of approaches to the idea of the circle, as well as a choice of typefaces in order to create a balance between traditional and contemporary.
Typographically, I felt there were two possible approaches. The first was to reflect the idea of fine craft by choosing a face either from or in the style of the Arts and Crafts movement. The other was to reflect the shapes created by the overlapping pieces of wood by selecting a typeface with high contrast between the thick and thin strokes. To this end I presented designs using Scala by Martin Majoor and Didot by Firmin Didot.
Scala was in fact designed in the 1980s, but it has a lot of similarities to Joanna, which was designed by Eric Gill who was part of the Arts and Crafts movement. Given the characters involved I felt Joanna had too many quirks, but Scala retained the organic feel, but without the distracting irregularities.
Didot was originally designed around the turn of the nineteenth century. The interesting thing about this typeface is the part it played in the fashion to refine everything in traditional printing as far as possible. The ink was made blacker than ever, the paper as smooth as possible (even being ironed), and the contrast between thick and thin within the strokes of the letters increased dramatically. The effect was dazzling to readers at the time who claimed it might blind them. It was still type, but it was a totally different approach to anything that had been seen before. Today it is considered to be classic and elegant.
The final design uses Didot italic together with a motif I created which loosely represents the forms of Jane’s trugs. The stroke thicknesses in the type and the motif are matched to create harmony between the two elements.
I decided to present the logo in a palette of colours based on Jane’s suggestions, rather than limiting her to just one colour. Consequently, I selected shades of blue, green, and biscuity brown which would be easy to reproduce in four colour printing. I also added in a darker shade of the same colour to ensure than Jane had a palette of colours which would work for foreground and background elements.
For the business card I wanted to pick up on the contrasting materials and tactile textures of Jane’s pieces. Working within the soft colour palette, I selected Keaykolour Biscuit, which is a toothy uncoated paper in a soft biscuity colour. I contrasted this with a crisp copper foil to match the nails and roves Jane uses in the construction of her trugs. The foil was applied with enough pressure to create an indent into the spongy surface of the paper, but without bruising the back.
Design wise the use of Didot is carried through to the web address, which Jane wanted to highlight as the most important piece of information. The remaining text is presented in Gill Sans which works well with Didot because of the shared proportions of the letters, but which is easier to read at smaller sizes.
The layout is biased towards the bottom of the card in order to allow Jane to get maximum value from the print run by having a design which would also double as a swing tag for her products.
Jane launched her new logo at the Contemporary Craft Festival in Bovey Tracey in Devon this weekend where she also won the Tony Piper memorial award for craft excellence. Well done Jane!