Thought Collective

Thought Collective



22 Oct 2012, 1205hrs

Business Cards

Artfetch champion and sell the work of emerging artists from around the globe. A hardcore team of contemporary art experts are scouring the world’s most interesting institutes to find who’s shaking things up and who’s standing out.

We’ve been working with the Artfetch team to create a vigorous brand that expresses their energy and deep devotion to new art.

Launched just in time for this year’s Frieze, the international art fair, a new blog will record their thoughts, explorations and discoveries. We will be developing the brand over the next few months as we prepare for the full ecommerce launch in 2012

Blog on iPad

Blog on iPad Blog on iPad

Blog on iPad Blog on iPad



30 May 2012, 1236hrs

“A truly integrated creative and client partnership focused on producing an amazing result.”

Exospere 01

Exosphere create bespoke holiday and event experiences that delight their private, corporate, and brand clientele: Cirque de Soleil on a mountainside for a select group of the world’s most successful individual investors; a spectacular Tuscan escape at the region’s renowned Parco della Val d’Orcia; Moonlight sledging in the Alps for 75 financiers; a close encounter of the crustacean kind in the Galapagos – on a yacht once owned by Her Serene Highness Princess Grace of Monaco.

It was clear from an early stage that we were working with a subject matter full of compelling narrative and glamour. Exosphere are travel and events experts; a hand–picked team of creative, high–end experience consultants.

Exosphere 02 Exosphere 05

Exosphere 04 Exosphere 03

Working closely with multi–award–winning writer Mike Reed, our first task was to explore a fitting brand identity. Our goal was to create an elegant yet restrained identity. To that end, we combined finely–tuned typography with a symbol that captures the spirit of Exosphere and also hints towards the literal meaning of their name. 

The website itself has much in common with a luxury travel magazine: words and images flow together to paint pictures of thrilling adventures, soothing retreats and lavish occasions.

We created the site using mobile–first, responsive CSS techniques, ensuring a seamless cross–platform, cross–device experience. Combining this with alternate methods of navigation, depending on whether or not a device is touch enabled, we facilitated an experience that feels completely at home on all devices.

At the same time, we provided a means to achieve a crucial business objective; spellbinding content leads you through a process that stimulates a direct response; motivating clients to engage with individual consultants.

One of the most exciting aspects of the whole project was how seamlessly the combined talents of client, writer, designer and developer came together. If the goal is excellence and effectiveness, in short, all projects should be like this.

Exosphere 06


06 Mar 2012, 1047hrs

Image of cover

Close up Stack

Conflict in Northern Ireland has left a legacy of social segregation within North Belfast; inequalities have perpetuated resistance to change. The housing estates of Tiger’s Bay, Ardoyne, Westland and Ballysilan have experienced their own unique issues that have, until recent years, prolonged a reluctance to embrace a way forward. 

Evidence of change has become, therefore, all the more poignant. Through a positive shift in will, fuelled by strong community leadership, support for organisational and social transition in North Belfast now exists. Central to this has been the work of the North Belfast Community Development Transition Group.

Inside Inside

Inside Inside

Over seven years great progress has been made. Working in partnership with voluntary and statutory agencies and liaising with community leaders, the Group has facilitated consultations, drafted plans and progressed real–life projects, helping change happen. 

We were asked to develop a document that would record and celebrate some of the work done to date; that would recognise a “work–in–progress” and capture how a shift has been embraced by the communities of North Belfast. Documentary Photographer Adam Patterson was commissioned to capture a community in the midst of change. Adam’s work often documents situations where social issues are precarious. What he brought back was a remarkable, often touching, collection of images taken around the Northern estates.

Inside Inside

Inside Inside

We felt it important that whatever we do should be received as the authentic voice of the people of North Belfast. So, for example, we decided that we wouldn’t typeset the text conventionally. Instead each word was painstakingly tapped out on a vintage typewriter. We chose a format that would keep images true to how Adam had taken them, on square format transparency. Photo captions were all written by hand. 

In exploring the content, it soon became evident that there were three key areas for change: the physical change in these environments, the organisational change occurring within its institutions and the feeling and attitudes of the community. So we split the piece into three separate books. The three books are then wrapped in the forward before being slipped into a screen–printed sleeve made from greyboard. 

Our overall goal was to create an artefact that demanded interaction; that captured a moment in time but that also represented communities in a state of flux. It’s hard for the reader to quickly flick through the piece. That was intentional. To understand the piece fully the reader must engage with it physically.


04 Jan 2012, 1137hrs

26 Treasures image 26 Treasures image

Back in the summer of 2011 we took part in the UK–wide 26 Treasures project. If you missed it or just want a reminder, you can read all about it here. For the Northern Ireland branch, a whole bunch of designers and visual artists were invited to respond to the work of 26 writers. Each “artist” was paired with a particular writer who had to write a “sestude“ in response to an artefact from the Ulster Museum. We got to work with Leontia Flynn who had been asked to write about the Malone Hoard. Our visual piece involved a number of digital on– and off–line processes.

It was great to be involved and the project saw some remarkable written and visual work exhibited at the Ulster Museum between 14th October and 14th November last year.

Following on from the success of the national project, the organisers have proposed an anthology is produced to capture a remarkable group achievement. To be “crowd–funded” through Unbound, the aim is to produce a beautiful hardback book.

Here’s what Project Coordinator Gillian Colhoun has to say:

“26 Treasures has brought together writers, artists and historical treasures in refreshing and innovative ways, so it’s fitting that we’re exploring an innovative publishing route for our 26 Treasures book. We are excited to be working with Unbound – an award–winning new way of bringing readers and authors together. 

“Authors pitch their ideas on the Unbound site, and readers pledge their support to make the book happen. For the 26 Treasures book, readers can pledge £10 to receive a digital edition and £18 for a hardback, or enjoy a museum tour or writing workshop in exchange for larger pledges. Terry Jones and Mrs Stephen Fry have successfully ‘crowd–funded’ their new books through Unbound. It would be a wonderful achievement to have 26 Treasures the next success story by people pledging their support.”

We think this is a pretty exciting development and would really appreciate your support. Please pledge here.

Learn & Review

07 Dec 2011, 1116hrs

SOE Learn and Review

This post is long overdue. A few months back we helped our long–standing client, the Spirit of Enniskillen Trust. SoE work with young people to encourage positive change, honest dialogue and respect. This workbook was used in schools to explore these themes and stimulate enthusiastic participation.

SOE Learn and Review SOE Learn and Review

SOE Learn and Review SOE Learn and Review

Hang ‘em high

31 Aug 2011, 1057hrs

Image of figures

Architects Hall Black Douglas called us in to help them put the finishing touches to the Gorey Civic Centre Library in Wexford, Ireland. The new centre includes office spaces, the district courthouse, community healthcare centre and the library. We were asked to find a way to dress the interior of the library.

Image of figures Image of figures

Image of figures Image of figures

gorey gorey

gorey gorey

A set of characters were developed, inspired by figures from both history and the present day. There’s a viking and blacksmith, a kite flyer and nurse, a fisherman and detective, iPod boy and a chef, a reader (of course) and scientist, a sportsman and soldier. 

The characters have been deployed around the library: frosted vinyl graphics play out stories across large plate glass windows while 160 perspex figures will be suspended from the roof’s central lightbox.


Interior Interior

Edditt: Pure, Undiluted, Full Strength Content Management

17 May 2011, 1303hrs

Last Friday saw the launch of the blog we designed and built for Edditt. Expectations are for the actual product to go on general release within the next four weeks. The blog has gone live in advance because there’s a lot to say on the subject. We’re also working on the marketing site which will incorporate the blog.

Edditt is a content management system unlike any other. We named the product and are developing the marketing strategy.

From a marketing point of view, one of the biggest challenges centres on the term “content management”. That comes with considerable baggage; pre–conceived ideas of what it actually means. Some of the most popular systems, for example, come with pre–determined frameworks that can restrict how the site it manages looks. That makes it more than just a content management system; it’s a front–end system too.

At the same time, the content these systems manage can often be limited and inflexible. So as CMS goes, they’re weak. Edditt, on the other hand, is totally front–end independent; it can manage any site, regardless of how the websites it manages look. In that respect it is “pure content management”. It’s also very flexible, “pliable” as we describe it; it will manage almost any site, regardless of the nature or format of the content.

We’ve also set up a simple holding page in advance of the full marketing site. It’s simple but still presents key messages about Edditt and a clear call to action: follow the blog or sign up for updates.

Zim Design Phase 1: Complete

24 Feb 2011, 0950hrs

We presented first stage print and web design concepts for The Zimbabwean on Wednesday, to the newspaper's editorial team. The culmination of weeks of development, our proposal was pretty solid and it was well received.

Our main focus has been on the editorial and typographic structure, and on how this will be managed through a sophisticated publishing system. While the print platform will have greater flexibility, the web platform must operate with minimum human intervention. So a modular approach was designed with a range of fixed and optional components that will support multi-media content.

For the print edition, we have devised a flexible grid system that will present news content in a well structured format that readers can navigate with ease. The overall design will help to realign the newspaper's rightful position alongside other internationally credible news platforms.

Amongst a wealth of factors we have considered are the promotion of rich content and the delivery of a distinct brand experience for both on- and off-line readers.

Chris Frazer Smith

13 Feb 2011, 1900hrs

A recently launched project that we're pretty proud of is the online portfolio for photographer Chris Frazer Smith.

Designed and conceived by London based Sparks Studio we brought to life a platform for Chris' work that is interactive, appealing and inline with current web standards.

We set out to create animations and transitions on the pages and photographs that would work seamlessly across all browsers without compromising the feel of it as a 'normal' site. Part of this meant providing linkable URLs by using a hash based address structure (e.g. #!/life.php), giving addresses that are saveable and shareable, but still facilitating the transitions and animations we desired.

The website is built with touch-screen (iPad) devices in mind, so it is possible to navigate all of the elements by swipe and touch. We also built a mobile-specific version of the site to make use of the smaller screen space available on devices such as mobile phones. This version of the site has all of the content of the main site, but presents it in a more phone friendly way.

As always the site is powered by our edditt content management system, allowing Chris easy access to update all of the text and photos on the site.

Have a look for yourself at

Type Setting

12 Feb 2011, 0000hrs

Powerful and personal words from an emotionally charged new project. Conventional typesetting seemed just too precise and clinical. Instead Sam Irwin sat at a 1960s typewriter and transposed the text, letter by manual letter. The imperfections better representing the experiences and the locations.

The International Grid

04 Feb 2011, 1154hrs


It's early days but we're now well and truly immersed in Design Phase 1 of The Zimbabwean's print and web editions. The international news platform will exploit a robust and flexible digital interface fed by a powerful back-end publishing system. Crucial to the success of the front-end interface will be how it embraces a system-based structure rather than any dogmatic adherence to newspaper tradition.

Red Letter Day

12 Jan 2011, 2154hrs

350pt Gotham Bold, some cardboard and a metre of red lycra.
Just the ticket for a tethered truth poster concept from Sam Irwin.
More later as the project develops.

Lowden Clear

09 Jan 2011, 1045hrs



NAMM is the biggest music trade show in the US. It's a big deal for Lowden; an opportunity to meet new dealers and, of course, take orders. For us it meant new photography from ace photographer Gary Parrott and a super-fast design and print turnaround. New sales collateral and display material shipped for California, to meet the Lowden sales team…and all before the new year was even out of bed. 



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