Craftsmanship is a key element of the GFSmith brand. However, the artistry intrinsic to the creative processes involved is normally hidden from those outside the industry. A pioneering event was conceived to open the door onto the traditional skills involved in paper making and the associated services – educating and engaging with the brand’s audiences in a direct and memorable way.
Beauty in the Making, the ambitious free event that evolved from this idea, was held in Bloomsbury’s Victoria House Basement in April 2012. For five days, the 22,000 sq ft space came alive with interactive exhibits, live demonstrations, talks and discussions and was enjoyed by 3,500+ visitors.
—The Right Environment
Aimed largely at a young, creative audience, the style of the event was key to its success. The aesthetic theme was a mix of industrial functionality, to reference the functional origins of the story, and gallery-like minimalism, to help elevate the exhibits to the level of art. Visually intriguing tools of the paper making craft sat like exhibits on raw chipboard plinths. Stacks of paper, assembled sheet by sheet, became signposts, into which informative messages had been laser cut. The overall signage strategy was one of discretion; information was positioned at low level so as not to interrupt the space while captions were revealed behind folded paper corners.
—Hands On Experience
It was also important that the event was as theatrical and entertaining as it was educational. Entering the venue through a shopfront on Southampton Row, and being guided down through a subterranean warren of corridors, guests were intrigued from the point of arrival. Experiential zones gave visitors the opportunity to try their hand at letterpress printing and envelope making, and skilled technicians demonstrated the magic of paper making to fascinated audiences.
—35 Points of View
To broaden the scope of the event, and to position GFSmith as a creative hub, It's Nice That were invited to host a series of lively daily talks by an impressive line-up of 35 creative luminaries. Highlights included Bompass & Parr, Secret Cinema’s Fabien Riggall, The Guardian’s design critic Oliver Wainwright, Mr Bingo and Wired Magazine’s Olivia Solon.
—Best of British
With a view to aligning GFSmith with the correct brand references, the event also showcased collaborations with relevant British institutions and brands: Monotype, The British Council, The Espresso Room, and furniture designer David Irwin.