A labour of love

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This a short blog about a small job, but one that plays well to one of our guiding principles, to “Find a way”. We wanted to invite people to a day at the Wimbledon Championships, but to tell the story right we need to start at the beginning.

Badger and friends

At the start of the year we set up ‘Badger and friends’ – a series of irregular, informal events for friends of Red Badger. The first of these was a dinner in Quo Vadis in Soho. In the run up we thought about how we should engage this particular audience, concluding that we should be friendly, but also sharp and to the point.

Incidentally, we got to those words by considering a fork… bear with me. I’d read about this exercise in Do Improvise. You take a group of people and together you frame a problem you want to solve, then as a facilitator you suggest an ordinary, everyday object and ask the group to list out everything they can say about it. Then the group looks at this list of observations and qualities and tries to use them in any way they can to solve the problem that was framed earlier. For us a fork proved quite a fruitful way to think about how we these events should work, what tone and feel they should have and how best to communicate them.

Here are some of the materials we created for that first dinner.

Wimbledon (Badger and friends 2.0)

The second event that the team has been planning is a day at the Wimbledon Championships. The day itself is going to be absolutely amazing so there was not a lot of value we could add to the experience itself, but we could help set the right level of expectation. For this we decided to focus on an invitation. One that would exemplify on the tonal qualities we’d already established, but also help communicate how special this day was going to be. We explore a bunch of ideas and approaches, but kept returning to the idea of making an invitation card that looked like a flat tennis ball. If we could pull it of we thought it would be quite memorable because of the surprising and highly tactile use of materials.

The problem then become one of finding a way to make it happen. We explored the idea with printers, getting costs for printing on flocked paper that we thought could replicated the tennis ball texture we were after. Perhaps it could, but the costs we prohibitive, especially for the very short run we required. This turned out to be a blessing because it made us start to look for where we could source actual tennis ball felt, and that lean us to WSJ Textiles, the makers of the felt used by Slazenger, to produce the balls used at Wimbledon. We had an interesting chat and I’m very grateful to them for agreeing to sell me a metre length of their felt (probably one of their smallest ever orders)

We’d sorted the design for the back of the invites, and had asked Maxim to print and back them on to heavy-duty greyboard. We matte laminated the print to give a soft, rubbery feel – we were looking to replicate the feel and heft of the rubber layer that lies under the felt in tennis balls.  

While that was going on we looked to find a way to apply graphics to the tennis ball felt. We discovered that tennis ball logos are applied as heat transfer vinyls. TotShirts in Tottenham use this technique to apply graphics to t-shirts and they agreed to run a test for us. It worked really well, so we went ahead.

 

 Test of heat transfer vinyl graphics by TotShirts Test of heat transfer vinyl graphics by TotShirts

 

 

 Measuring out Measuring out

 

 

 Cutting Cutting

 

Now we had both halves we used slightly watered down PVA to glue the felt to the backs – bookbinders apply fabric to board in the same way. These were left overnight under the weight of a load of books to ensure they dried flat.

The last thing was to trim them. Maxim kindly agreed to do this for us, and then we were done!

All in all this was a bit of a labour of love, but we’re really pleased that we stuck at it and found a way to make it happen because it’s something we’re pretty proud of.

Check out more of our design work here.