Experiential design experts MET Studio have created a new travelling branded exhibit for the Campaign for Wool, an initiative originally conceived in 2008 by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and launched publically in 2010, in response to the enormous challenges facing the wool industry. The new exhibit launched at Grand Designs Live (winning a ‘Grand Designs medallion as one of the ten best stands at the show) and will be used across a number of events in the coming year and beyond.
MET Studio was directly appointed to the project, without a pitch, in February 2011. Responding to a creative brief to move away from traditional notions of trade stands, the design team at MET Studio believed the campaign’s messages would be best served by simply spelling out the words ‘choose wool’ for high impact, using giant-sized letters for the word ‘Wool’ both for directness and also in order to use the letters as a medium to illustrate wool’s flexibility, forms and many varied applications.
This direct approach was very well received by both the client and visitors to the show. The tactile nature of the letters proved very attractive with visitors really interacting with them – even sitting unbidden in the letter ‘O’ for photo opportunities!
MET Studio Design Director Lloyd Hicks
The letter ‘W’ shows wool in its near-raw state in natural-coloured shagpile. The first ‘O’ is an earthy, neutral colou, made up of blanket sections overlaid onto one other. The second ‘O’ is a full-colour patchwork, whilst the ‘L’ is made up of carpet tuft samples. The rear side of the letters shows a photo-based pastoral scene of sheep grazing, chosen to underline the key messages about wool as a smart material (renewable, waterproof, biodegradable, a natural fire retardant and insulator, breathable, multi-climatic, elastic, easy to care for, natural, safe and sustainable!), whilst reinforcing the key message that sheep farming keeps the UK landscape green and beautiful.
The Campaign for Wool story
At the time of the campaign’s initial genesis, the price of wool had plummeted to the point where farmers were being paid less for their sheeps’ fleeces than for having them shorn. At the same time, sheep numbers were declining across the world, from Britain to Australia and New Zealand, with some farmers losing confidence in the future of the wool industry. A parallel threat came from new man-made synthetic fibres, often oil-based, which were providing stiff competition in the areas where wool had traditionally triumphed – fashion, carpets and insulation.
The Prince of Wales formed an apocalyptic view of what the future for wool might hold, unless something could be done. Without a thriving wool industry, and with further declines in the sheep population, the physical appearance of our landscape could change forever. Imagine the Cumbrian uplands deprived of sheep, or the Scottish and Welsh mountains, or the sheep stations of Australia and New Zealand? Were we really to enter an era when the wool trade, which has thrived and prospered since the Middle Ages, would be sidelined by man-made fibres?
And what would the environmental implications be? Wool is one of the most environmentally friendly and sustainable of fibres. At a time when concerns about landfills occupy us all, why on earth were we turning our backs on wool? These were the issues which provoked the HRH the Prince of Wales into convening a meeting over dinner at Clarence House with a diverse group of stakeholders with a connection to wool – from sheep experts to wool marketeers, wool traders to fashion designers and carpet manufacturers. From this initial meeting grew the Campaign for Wool, with all sectors working together in unprecedented harmony to promote and champion wool and help reinvigorate the global wool industry.
Results to date
Since the Campaign for Wool was officially launched by the Prince of Wales in February 2010, it has devised numerous initiatives to raise the profile of wool. In PR terms, favourable coverage of wool in national newspapers, magazines and on radio and TV has been boosted significantly, and there are indications that consumers are responding with a greater respect and demand for wool.
In recent months, the price of wool at the farm gate has increased threefold, with sheep farmers receiving higher prices for their clip. There is a growing confidence about the future of the whole industry. The Campaign still has a very long way to go, but there is a definite momentum.