Research point: Experimenting with imagery

How can a designer or company strike a balance between creating a ‘brand’ that clients will be loyal to and becoming clichéd?

– a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought

Timorous Beasties

Timorous Beasties were set up by a couple of textile students from Glasgow school of Art “as a wayward take on the often “twee” world of textiles”. Instantly recognisable their work incorporates insects, large plants, flowers and modern urban cityscapes but these are designed with a very contemporary take on often fairly classic ideas. For example inspired by ‘Toile de Jouy’ fabrics of Napoleonic France that reflected the society of the day, Timorous beasties have designed their own Toile range. These new Toile designs each take a major city and incorporate recognisable buildings with current urban social comment.

They maintain their originality by constantly reinventing themselves but continuing to use their now trademarked bold surreal imagery. Their designs are mostly classically beautiful from a distance but contain intrigue and interest on closer inspection that adds another depth to the work.

Designers that create an instantly recognisable brand that continue to expand and push their design ideals often stop their work becoming clichéd. It is also about understanding your potential buyers, and always keeping them in mind. Liberty and Laura Ashley both do this very well; they totally understand their market and continue to appeal to that market with new designs that evolve to sit comfortably within their collections.

Personally I think that designers or companies such as Orla Kiely and Kath Kidson have lost credibility and have become very clichéd because of the overuse of their designs. A few designs are seen on everything from bags to shoes to notebooks to crockery it just goes on and on and they continue to maintain their companies on seeming few designs.

There is a fine line between a successful brand and becoming clichéd but awareness of a chosen market and continued development without loosing site of the original style feels like a way of protecting against cliché…. Don’t sell out!