From page to screen: North’s Sean Perkins on designing a website for paper company Arjowiggins

Design studio North’s website for Arjowiggins aims to replicate the experience of looking through a paper samples book online. We spoke to North’s Sean Perkins about designing the site and collaborating with photographer Dan Tobin Smith to capture the company’s paper in motion…

In March last year, design studio North unveiled an enormous paper samples book for Arjowiggins. The hardback tome featured no section openers or dividers and very little text – just the line “International standards for creative papers” on its front cover and a brief description of each paper stock on the sheets within.

The book was part of a wider branding project by North – the studio also redrew the company’s ‘folded paper’ logo and designed a new logotype and website. The site combines some beautiful photographs of samples with shots of the paper-making process and is accompanied by a film, directed by Dan Tobin Smith, which captures the brand’s paper in motion.

We spoke to North’s Sean Perkins about the project and the challenge of bringing paper to life on screen.

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Arjowiggins paper samples book brings together every one of the company’s paper stocks and is over 300 pages

Could you tell me a little more about the identity you created for Arjowiggins – what informed the new logo?

Arjowiggins have been making paper in the UK since 1761. Their logo is a tidied and redrawn version of an existing symbol that has been used by the company since 1991, a literal representation of folded paper and a real strength of expression for their business.

The logotype is part of an overall visual identity system for Arjowiggins, applied across everything and in particular for Creative Papers. The font (TPHero) has been used to identify all of their paper products, making them a cohesive family instead of individual competitive brands. Rives, Pop’Set, Keaykolour, Conqueror, Curious Collection etc are now all visibly under one roof. The type style works to signify one company; a strong, clear and contemporary expression with a clearly marked product range.

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New stationery and packaging for Arjowiggins, designed by North

And could you tell us a little more about the design of the paper samples book? It must have been quite a challenge collating and binding all those papers…

We thought about all the paper sample books we have in our studio. They’re a mess, and it takes ages to sort through everything to get what you want. This was a bit of a dream project that allowed us to create, as designers, the perfect paper reference tool.

The Paper Book is the first that has all Arjowiggins papers in one place – the ‘Pantone Book for Paper’. It’s the complete collection of creative papers, developed and manufactured by Arjowiggins. We wanted to create one single, comprehensive volume, containing every kind of paper for every communication requirement. The Paper Book demonstrates innovation, colour, range, consistency, finishes, textures, quality and performance.

There are almost 300 A4 pages labelled clearly and logically for easy use, with nothing to impede the selection of the most appropriate product. The type position is part of a structured, functional grid to aid product understanding. The paper is allowed to speak for itself with elegance and simplicity. It’s a functional tool, easy to use and navigate. Function drove all the design decision: type sizes, layout, colours and coding.

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Arjowiggins’ homepage features close-up shots of paper samples alongside a search bar allowing users to search for samples by colour, material, weight and more. North and Arjowiggins worked with developers JP74 to build the website 
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Arjowiggins homepage
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Users can also browse papers by collection
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Other pages on Arjowiggins’ website feature full-screen images documenting the paper-making process

You recently designed a new website for Arjowiggins. What are the challenges in creating a website for a paper company? Is it difficult to convey something so tactile on screen?

The new website was a massive project to undertake, but we saw it as an essential tool for specifying paper to work alongside the International Standards Paper Book

We had to photograph in exacting detail every product (over 500 images) so you can see the paper you are specifying. In a digital age, it was important to replicate the experience as closely as possible of having the book on your desk. The Creative Papers homepage is a search bar – every product has been tagged so you can search using any criteria; weight, colour, product range, material – [it’s] effortless and functional.

And what about the film you created with Dan Tobin Smith? How was it shot, and what was the initial concept?

The concept was simple: all of Arjowiggins’ papers in one place. We were so set on having Dan’s exacting eye on this we waited a couple of months while he was shooting in China for Apple until he was available.

We had considered creating this as a digital animation – [it would have been] easier to achieve and manage and more economic, but after initial discussions we decided it needed the reality and authenticity of real paper, flying and falling.

The designers in the North studio quickly storyboarded an animation of paper being thrown into the air in slow motion, running it in reverse to get the general idea across. We then experimented with wires to lift the paper invisibly one after the other in the studio, again reversing this to see it flying back into a single neat pile. Dan and his team did an amazing job creating the perfect set to blow the entire book into the air, for it to fall back down effortlessly into one place. It’s a masterpiece!

Arjowiggins Creative Papers sponsors this year’s Creative Review Annual. For more information about the Annual, see theannual.creativereview.co.uk

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