The Whitaker, redevelopment
Rossendale BC – The Whitaker Museum & Art Gallery
Concept development, design development, branding, visualisation, 2D & 3D design and interpretation, illustration, plans and technical specifications, artwork, display, installation
A forward-facing museum and art gallery who ‘looks creatively at the past and present to help develop and influence our future’, The Whitaker in Rossendale is ‘dedicated to supporting people’s rights to a cultural life and working for a valley and world where people and nature flourish together’.
Appointed as design lead, and working with The Whitaker’s project lead and extended team, and an independent museum consultant (Henry McGhie), we were tasked with looking holistically across design, interpretation and experience as part of The Whitaker’s £2.2m NLHF redevelopment. Originally commissioned to deliver the graphic and interpretation scheme for use within the re-imagined gallery spaces in the original house, and in the new purpose building, we first proposed a brand clarity exercise to determine the Whitaker’s position, purpose and personality as they started an exciting new chapter. The result of this exercise quickly saw our brief expanded to also include the design of a new logo and complementary visual language.
“Massively appreciate all of your input and pulling together all of this in time for us. Everyone…is so impressed. We had a visit from Heritage Lottery this week and they loved the new look and felt the whole visual impact around the building worked so well.”
Creative Director | The Whitaker Museum and Art Gallery
Enabling connections between people and nature was clearly a key focus of this Museum and Art Gallery wide project. Drawing inspiration from the valley’s natural surroundings and its industrial past, we designed a new logo and visual language that reflects the Whitaker’s aim to be a place where – through art and collections, and through active participation in events and experiences – people are enabled to consider their role in nature and society.
‘Explore the Past, Meet the Present, Create the Future’ was established as a public-facing strapline; we identified a colour palette inspired by the Valley’s natural surroundings and industrial past and; we chose a typeface with unusual stroke angles to further reflect the Whitaker’s creative and unconventional personality traits. Our completed logotype – featuring three shapes that together form the letter ‘W’ and reflect Past, Present and Future – also provides the pattern-based element of the complementary visual language.
Following this we then designed and created a cohesive and robust graphic, exhibition and interpretation scheme. We tailored the scheme for use across the many different spaces, galleries and collections including; social history galleries, natural history galleries, community rooms, art spaces, cafe and public areas.
Inspired by nature and society throughout, our scheme includes a host of elements; from interpretation graphics to case graphics, large format wall installations to wayfinding and signage. Featuring our bespoke illustration and pattern applied across fabric banners, 3D graphics and lightboxes, graphic wallpapers, birch ply panels and cut to shape labels, the resulting scheme provides a flexible and thought-provoking backdrop for The Whitaker’s collections, art and events.
In keeping with the values of The Whitaker, existing cases, materials and fittings were recycled and reused where possible and; a complementary paint, material and finish palette for use within rooms and circulation spaces was established to ensure cohesion across the original and new buildings.
Following completion of the visual language commission and in parallel with exhibition design development, delivery and install of the interpretation scheme, we were commissioned to create a series of design assets for print and digital. These assets included a keepsake brochure, exhibition posters, roadside banners, a building banner, a ‘What’s On’ guide, and exhibition space/gallery lead interpretation & signage. In addition, we also designed and created the logotype and menus for the Whitaker’s new restaurant and catering kitchen ‘Bar and Kitchen’.
On completion of all three commissions, we designed and created a full style guide and handed over to Rossendale Leisure Trust, who will be providing all of The Whitaker’s core graphic design support going forward.
The Whitaker has since won the Lancashire Tourism Awards 2021 for best Cultural venue/Organisation.