When it comes to rebrands, some identities are more delicate than others. Take the World of Wedgwood, the Stoke-on-Trent-based experiential site of the renowned and beloved pottery company. Not only does it have to represent this historic brand name, but it also has to accommodate the V&A Wedgwood Collection and Niall Keating's restaurant, Lunar.
With so many different and important elements to balance, the World of Wedgwood had to be handled carefully. One false move and instead of being a world-leading name in the field of ceramics, it could risk being consigned to the factory seconds shelf of graphic design. Fortunately, SomeOne wasn't about to let that happen.
By working closely with the World of Wedgwood, SomeOne could live up to the maxim of former managing director of the Wedgwood pottery firm Josiah V, who said: "The Wedgwood tradition prescribes a duty to the future as well as the past." And it's this duty which underpins the experience's development to this day.
"It was a really beautifully craft-based project as we got to meet and work with the people in the factory who make the Wedgwood by hand and see behind the scenes to get into the materials and textures used in the creation of the objects," SomeOne founder Simon Manchipp tells Creative Boom.
Visiting the site in person and taking in its historic Wedgwood factory, marvelling at its stunning contemporary tearoom, and tasting the world-class cuisine at Lunar all added up to the perfect representation of the Wedgwood brand. And it was this feeling of excitement for the past while inventing for the future that the SomeOne creative team wanted to capture in their identity. "The site is Everything Wedgwood - on a plate."
For a brand as well-known as Wedgwood – with its own distinctive visual assets to draw inspiration from – it would be criminal not to refer to what people are familiar with. In this case, it's the iconic light blue jasper first invented by Wedgwood founder Josiah Wedgwood in 1774. This colour is so famous that it has even given rise to the expression 'Wedgwood Blue' and has become a shorthand for the brand worldwide.
"It was clear that this blue needed to form the basis of the colour system for the brand – complemented with a palette of seasonal and year-round choices to enable applications to work well across print, pixel, on and offline," says SomeOne.
Bolstering this approach was the celebration of the idea of craft and the process of creation. This was done by creating a library of textures associated with the Wedgwood factory and creative studios. Elements such as covering clay, powder, paint, bone China and slip were all beautifully photographed to help with storytelling and add visual interest to the designs.
"They can be the hero image or become a recessive background," SomeOne explains. "Each comes with a wealth of detail; they can be cropped into and rotated to best find a composition that works for any design."
Accompanying these textures are 11 illustrations that lead to an infinite number of options. Taking their inspiration from the lines formed in clay by a potter's wheel, these illustrations depict what's on offer at the World of Wedgwood, from a humble tea cup to a Portland vase.
"The illustrations can be used on their own or combined to form a group," SomeOne reveals. "These can be used as both small details or as hero graphics. A system was developed to enable the illustrations to depict any of Wedgwood's thousands of products."
Finally, a new messaging system was created to invigorate the well-loved Wedgwood brand. Crisp, clear and informative, the voice welcomes visitors to the World of Wedgwood while carrying a gravity befitting such an important institution. But if there's one thing that isn't, it's stuffy.
"With a brand established for over 250 years, there is more licence to play with preconceptions," SomeOne concludes. "Josiah Wedgwood was a radical and progressive figure, so there is no reason for the written brand to languish in the past."