Thursday, 1 November 2012

Bespoke Design

One of my favourite things to do is design a set of stationery which is truly unique, something that no other couple will have. It's not always (or ever) easy to get a truly bespoke design right, because more often than not it means starting with nothing but a hazy concept or theme. Often the couple also have a strong set of expectations which cannot easily be expressed, especially if the conversations are happening at a distance, over email or telephone calls, without being able to sit down together and discuss requirements.

However, part of what I enjoy about bespoke design is the challenge and the ability to say yes, I can do that for you. From snow leopard print to autumn leaves, I like to be able to give every couple I work with exactly what they are looking for. Sometimes that means making revision after revision as we experiment and narrow down a concept, sometimes it means spending a lot of time drawing or researching something very specific. Producing something unique rarely includes the use of pre-made parts, either illustrations or embellishments, and that's where Graphic Ember's ability to illustrate and laser cut comes in useful.

So what bespoke design have we done previously and how did we come up with a design?

One of my favourite pieces of bespoke design so far was for a wedding last month. The bride contacted me initially for her invitations (which I unfortunately didn't photograph). What we were given was a theme; autumn. This theme influenced the colour scheme, which in the case of the invitations became brown and orange. From the theme we designed a tree with falling oak leaves, which became the cover design. Oak leaves also featured on the inside of the invitation.

We wanted to have a strong level of contast between dark and bright, which we felt suited the season. After creating a few artists impression images in a few different colours the couple settled on a brown and orange. Honesty to materials played a part in the design, paper comes from wood and we wanted paper, not ink, to be what brought the design to life. This gave the perfect reason for using the laser cutter to cut a silhouette of the design into a brown cover sheet and have an orange insert sheet shining through the cover to create the contrast.

This design then became the bases for the couples Order of Service booklets as well.

Honesty to materials also gave us an idea for a table plan. Why not get to the heart of the autumn material and make the plan from wood? Having discussed an initial concept with our laser cutter we came up with an idea, the table plan was to be laser cut into a wooden plank and inlaid with mahogany. Not the cheapest table plan in the world, no, but something that really embodied the concept, something that would be a piece of artwork and something that could be kept forever as a reminder of the day.

Again, the initial invitation design informed the imagery used for the table plan although it in itself became something truly unique.

The couple made the decision to name their tables, rather than number them. The theme for this would be leaves. With this in mind I began researching leaf shapes, looking for the most distinguishable silhouettes to give each table it's own character which could then be carried through to table name cards and even to the individual menu/place cards. The couple then narrowed down a list of leaves to their favourites, Red Oak, Hawthorn, Horse Chestnut and Maple.

The table names themselves were laser cut from the same brown card that had been the predominant colour on both the invitations and order of service but the templates for these became the inspiration for the combined menu and place cards which alternated colours between orange and brown at each place setting.

This whole bespoke range was developed from one word, 'autumn'. We worked closely with the couple, keeping in constant contact even though we didn't meet the bride until we hand delivered the table plan in the weeks leading up to her wedding. We took a concept, looked at not only the imagery and colours relevant to the theme but also the materials in order to come up with something completely unique, something that no other couple will ever have.

The set took work, it took revisions, brainstorming, a good bit of time. It was also one of the most enjoyable sets of stationery I've had the pleasure of working on. And in return, we've received some of the most lovely comments we could ever have dreamed of getting.

“As a bride-to-be, who has been planning 'my' big day for 18 months I've felt a little let down at the fact
I've never experienced 'The One' feeling that so many other brides have. BUT!!! I can now say I have had my 'The One' experience!!! I am shaking, I have an aching jaw, I want to cry, I'm dizzy with excitedness. Why? Because my amazing bespoke autumn theme invites have arrived!! If you're waiting on an order you will not be disappointed!! Thank you so so much, you have been brilliant, the customer service is as good as the  products you have supplied, I look forward to part two in the summer!” - Sara

There is nothing better than knowing we got it right, we created a collection that worked with the couples idea of their wedding and will hopefully be kept forever as important keepsakes.

We have of course worked on numerous bespoke designs (most of our work is either bespoke or heavily customised). While the autumn stationery above is currently my favourite, with the wooden table plan being the inspiration for our upcoming signature range, I will include a few other images showing some of the other bespoke work we've done.

 Hot Air Balloon - Laser Cut Invitation
 Snow Leopard Print Invitation
 Gerbera Invitation
 Christmas Hand Made Wallet
 Invitation Using Client's Artwork
 Snowflake Invitation
 Las Vegas Travel Wallet Invitation
Indian Save the Date

Of course, the benefit of doing our own illustration and cutting is that we can modify and customise standard designs to suit a specific couple. We're currently working on a variation of our Midsummer Night's Dream laser cut wallet where the butterflies on the inserts have been changed to dragonflies and the colours have been modified. We might show the set in the future once the couple have their order. However, you can see some of our other customised pieces below. 

 Wishing Tree Tags
 Customised Laser Cut Lace Pocketfold
 Customised Damask 002 Invitation
Customised Elegance Wallet

We really do love getting each set of stationery perfect for each couple, that often includes incorporating a bit of their personality, whether the couple wants something completely bespoke or customised. So if you want stationery made specially for you why not contact us at

Also, if you like what we do please vote for us (Graphic Embers) in the stationery category of the Wedding Ideas Magazine Awards 2013, there's only three weeks to vote!

Thanks for reading,

Angela McGurk
WINNER - The North of England Wedding Awards 2012
FINALIST - The Northumberland Business Awards 2012 (Winner to be announced on November 15th 2012)

No comments:

Post a Comment