Reflecting on Early Work


Last month one of my oldest clients JDDK (formerly Jane Darbyshire & David Kendal) launched a new website which included a fascinating heritage timeline dating back to their first building in 1987. Looking back I was reminded of the lovely projects we have worked on together like The Parks Sports Centre (at the time the largest recipient of Sports Council lottery funding) and more recently St Columba’s Hospice. One project in particular stood out as I’d forgotten all about it.

The Riverside Early Years Centre opened in North Shields in 1995. Up until then I’d been working for my first employer designing various signage schemes for polytechnics converting to university status including Kingston, East London and Humberside and large corporate clients like American Express and British Airways. All of these were giving me brilliant experience in my chosen field, but each one demanded I work to corporate identity manuals with prescribed colours and typography.

Designing the signage for The Riverside Centre was one of my first opportunities to experiment, influenced by the environmental graphic design work in the US that I was learning about at the time. A chance to move away from silver anodised aluminium signs and black Helvetica medium graphics which is what I saw everyday going through the factory.

The finished scheme comprised rigid banners, room signs and 3D letters painted one of three colours, pink, turquoise or airforce blue. The typeface was VAG with proportionally designed arrows and pictograms. Trust me this was ground breaking for a small project up North ! Special thank you to JDDK for embracing it.

Top image: central street at The Riverside Early Years Centre by kind permission of Sally Ann Norman.

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