Ok, as you’ll have gathered if you’ve read any of my posts I’m passionate about design in all its forms and functions. Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some great people in many areas of design – architects, interior designers, retail designers, point-of-sale designers, signage and directional experts, retail merchandisers, illustrators, photographers, sculptors, all manner of web and digital developers…I could go on and on. The one thing we all have in common is a passion for what we do, we are each personally invested in our work and with every project we deliver, we want great results for our clients. When I was asked to develop the brand identity for Interior FM I knew that I needed to capture some of this passion.
We are often told how great brands are developed and finely honed over years, sometimes decades, to connect and deliver for people (customers and clients). By and large I’d agreed with that statement, but there’s other branding that just happens within our social culture. It’s more organic, more personable and connects with people instantly…yeah I did say that, and this is a branding blog- bare with me.
There are marks and icons that have become deeply entwined in our culture, so deeply entwined that we often don’t acknowledge them for the ‘brands’ that they are. The smiley…originally created in the early 70’s, this has evolved and embedded itself into just about every culture. It’s an instantly recognised icon for happy, well, good…pleased and so much more. When did that happen? It’s hard to pin point, it has certainly been accelerated by the prominence of mobile technology and emoticons, but it was a global brand way before that, back when mobiles were still bricks (sorry showing my age now).
And the smiley is not on it’s own, the rainbow, another instant, globally recognized symbol of openness and pride. When you stop and look a little deeper at any culture, whether local or global, there are more of these then you’d first think.
For me one of the strongest cultural brand icons is the heart icon, is says so much in an incredibly simple and effective way. Sure it can be over used (and often is, so there’s a fine balance to be struck).
In my opinion, any brand that aligns itself or associates with something as strong as the heart icon will be clearly understood (coming back to my above point, we’re not talking about adding hearts to every piece of comms you do, that will just make people want to puke, myself included), but if it is delivered with style, subtlety and used sparingly it will work (errrrr…I think I got the sparingly bit right…fingers crossed).
At the heart of the matter
Interior design is all about passion. Sharing a passion for places and people. How these elements interact to create an atmosphere, a home or an office… whatever the space, it connects with people. Incorporating the heart into the Interior FM logo felt like a natural thing to do. It also sits beautifully within the risers of the M, bringing from and function (top interior design terms) to the simple shadow lines of the two main letterforms.
I really wanted to explore the idea of interior space within this identity. The final result is a drop shadow font/text execution for the two main letters. Hopefully this helps people to think about inside spaces and the three-dimensional place that they inhabit in ways that will challenge and excite.
For me, the best brands not only look visually pleasing to the eye, they also tease you and take you on a journey of discovery. At first glance, good branding, should tell you everything about that business, then when you study it a little longer there should be something less obvious but very much connected with the product or service, I guess you could describe it as a hidden gem. That was what I wanted to achieve with Interior FM.
What did I learn?
First a confession, I think doing this project confirmed something that I’d thought for a long time, my passion for design most definitely extends into buildings and interiors, I have to admit that I was torn at college, whether to pursue graphics or architecture as a profession. Graphics won as it just seemed cooler, looking back I just wasn’t exposed to enough architecture growing up in Yorkshire during the 80’s and 90’s. There simply wasn’t the public visibility (or appetite) for inspiring architecture in the UK at that time, and certainly not in my part of Yorkshire.
The biggest thing about this project wasn’t so much a learning as a reinforcement of a theory. The way client presentations are delivered by architects and interior designers reinforced one of my long term beliefs, you need wavables.
What are wavables?
Within the world of interior design and architecture there’s still a heck of a lot of touchy feely stuff going on. Physical hand-made models (absolutely stunning and seldom 3D printed), materials, textures and all the tactile stuff that I absolutely love about design in general. Yes, there’s the technology, the renders and auto-CAD…even augmented reality, but the meetings, the physical face-to-face sit down meetings involve a true feast for the senses.
I can see why that’s the done thing within these circles, I get that there is a lot to think about when you’re working with living spaces, the materials and textures can have profound effects, but what this style of presentation really confirmed to me, was presenting from a laptop or screen just doesn’t connect well with clients. You need what I often call ‘wavables’, physical objects, bits of paper, samples, swatches that you can show people and discuss what that product will bring to the overall piece.
Having an open and engaged conversation is priceless for everyone who is involved, it enriches the process, building trust and improving the overall outcome of the solution. My ‘design’ projects always feature wavables of some sort, giving people physical things to touch and feel, keeping things human and not letting technology take the lead, connects much, much better in my opinion. There’s also less chance of a technical glitch screwing things up.
Here’s to wavables, long may they remain part of the presentation process.