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Adding a new dimension

Adding a new dimension


Design is a creative discipline centred on both the contrasts between the various elements used and the surrounding environment.  Exemplars of the art are out there to be found and occasionally, something is distinguished by its quality, content and originality.

For example, Hereford-based InDesign has cleverly combined a disparate range of signmaking skills with Metamark media, aged oak and leading edge technologies to create an effective and highly attractive sign package for The Old Mayor’s Parlour, a newly renovated commercial exhibition space located in Hereford’s Church Street Conservation area.

Tony Brooks formed the company some six years ago, when, after looking, as all businesses must, for a competitive edge, he decided that his company would become more deeply integrated than most in the design aspect of signage by getting involved in jobs a stage earlier in their production.

Consequently, in addition to delivering signing of a particularly high calibre, InDesign also crafts websites, printed collateral and more. The company’s entire output is distinguished by aesthetics and everything in its portfolio bears the evidence of its design-led business ethic, which helps to distinguish it from the sign-scape surrounding it.

The sign it has created for The Old Mayor’s Parlour, is entirely bespoke and features some novel design and construction techniques, all of which were executed in house.

Its main focus is centred on a substantial and solid character oak panel, which looks like a product of an architectural reclamation but, was in fact underwent treatment best described as ammonia fuming at InDesign’s premises. Contained in an airtight enclosure, it was subjected to ammonia fumes in a convection arrangement, in order to simulate the passage of time without ‘overcooking’ the attractive figuring of the natural wood.

Mediaeval finishing strategies then made way for more modern signmaking technologies. Five coats of thoroughly up-to-date marine quality varnish were progressively applied into a uniform layer of protection for the ammonia aged finish to ensure that the panel’s distinctive colouring remains stable while locking out weathering elements, such as UV light and rain.

The sign’s lettering is white enamel paint, hand applied to the varnish layer through a stencil cut from a Metamark masking material.  This contrasts agreeably with the surrounding figured oak without overpowering the design. Great durability is expected of the enamel finish and it too will remain stable over time, its crisply detailed edges remaining a pristine white.

A fabricated tray made from routed and folded aluminium composite was then used to surround the oak panel. Once the panel was folded it assumed the right proportions to partially enclose the figured and lettered oak, thus adding a very attractive design counterpoint.

The assembled tray was wrapped in Metamark MD5 with a special printed motif, which takes its design cues from selected areas of old decorative plasterwork within The Old Mayor’s Parlour itself. The design detail is rendered in a very subtle contrasting colour with the flawlessly printed background. Metamark MD5 resolves the detail wonderfully and the printed result establishes a cool contrast with the warmer oak tones of the figured oak panel.

The wrapped and fabricated aluminium tray was overlaminated with matching Metamark satin finished laminate that protects the print from the elements and imparts its own attractive finish to the plaster detailed print wrapping the tray.

So far, so good, but The Old Mayor’s Parlour signs saves what may be regarded as the best trick for last. It’s hinted at in the MD5 print wrapping the fabricated tray. Sharper eyes, particularly those conversant with modern communications technology, may spot an icon hinting at a relatively new communications medium and it will have them reaching for their smartphones.

Under the laminated Metamark MD5, is an NFC chip that enables the sign to communicate with suitable smartphones nearby. The chip is capable of invoking the phones’ web-browsers and of starting a session that provides details of the latest exhibition taking place in The Mayor’s Parlour.

Near-Field-Communication chips are a long way removed from the premises’ origins, but the sign does a wonderful job of integrating the technology in a work that really is distinguished by design.

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