Liverpool-based SB Studio has designed some striking signage and wayfinding using reclaimed materials for this year’s British Ceramics Biennial.
The studio has been working with the Biennial since 2009 after BB/Saunders, which launched its visual identity, closed its doors. For this year’s show, SB applied the fuchsia and white colour palette and ribbon logo introduced by BB/Saunders to exhibition information and reclaimed chipboard signs.
The Biennial takes place at a disused ceramics factory in Stoke-on-Trent, which was used by the Spode family for more than 200 years until the company closed down. “It’s a derelict site and we wanted the signage to be part of it. The exhibition is spread out over nine-and-a-half acres, so the signage had to be bold and easy to spot,” says SB Studio co-founder Benji Holroyd.
Reclaimed materials were also used by exhibition designer Mr Masters, who used porcelain pieces and objects found around the venue to create furniture and stands. “Everyone involved in designing for the show felt it was only right we used objects found in the space – the factory used to be a huge part of Stoke-on-Trent’s industry, and the British ceramics industry, so we wanted to reflect that,” adds Holroyd.
The studio also worked with Leeds-based photographer Lindsay Broadley on a range of promotional imagery featuring shots of porcelain roses covered in fuchsia paint. The imagery was used on hanging banners placed around the venue.
The roses featured were created for a ceramic garden display at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, made up of 800 bone china brick and flower sculptures. The roses used to be widely made in Stoke-on-Trent but are now produced by just one factory and the Biennial has been hosting workshops in local schools to teach students how to create them. “It seemed fitting for them to be a part of the Biennial campaign,” says Holroyd.
While posters and signs use the Biennial logo, the banners rely on colour only. “Part of the brand development since 2009 has been about adding more elements to the BCB identity. The distinctive colour of the Biennial has always been a big factor, and we felt it had the confidence to stand on its own in many different forms, whether that’s paint, ink or dust. If it was pink and was in the right environment it suddenly became a powerful brand image without using the BCB marque and that was our aim from day one – for every element of the brand to stand on it’s own and be identifiably BCB” says Holroyd.
Since 2009, SB Studio has been working on making the Biennial brand feel more accessible, he explains. “It’s become more commercial, so we’ve had to think of ways to make it more approachable but also in a way that celebrates the heritage and spirit of the industry. The biennial site is so vast that it has three post codes, so creating that powerful brand image – a visual device that was both beautiful and worked with the space – was important to help guide visitors around,” he explains.
SB also produced some lovely signage and promotional material for 2011’s Biennial. This year, they’ve taken a different and bolder approach but have retained the key elements of the original brand identity.
The British Ceramics Biennial runs until November 10. See britishceramicsbiennial.com for details.