Tangent’s identity for social enterprise Remade Network competes with “the thick veneer of consumer culture”

Remade Network was established to build a repair economy tackling climate change while creating jobs and reducing inequality.

Date
22 October 2020
Reading Time
4 minute read

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When it comes to creating a brand, there are certain boxes that, when ticked, have the ability to persuade and allure. They build personality and draw consumers in, usually with the end goal of selling products. But what happens when those same tenets – “the story, the lifestyle choice, the convenience” – are applied to an ethical brand? To something which promotes a better world?

Tangent is a design studio based in Glasgow which explored these questions when working on the identity for Remade Network, a platform “encouraging people to seriously consider the effects of consumer culture” as well as “offering alternative ways forward,” explains Andrew Stevenson, co-founder of the Glasgow-based studio. Tangent works with several organisations “that could broadly be described as socially progressive,” and it was one of those organisations that recommended Tangent to Sophie Unwin, the director of the Remade Network, adds senior designer Jack Shaw.

The studio was founded by designers and never really had a specific goal or commercial plan but it’s always worked on projects which motivate the entire team and which are “usually a bit left-field,” says Andrew. “Over the years, we naturally gravitated towards civic, societal and cultural work – projects that we could personally invest in and where our values aligned with the people we worked for.” This has included larger projects like the identity and signage system for the 2020 World Expo, which will focus on the future of sustainable technologies. But also on smaller projects – like with Remade Network.

Jack tells us a bit more about the organisation: “Remade Network was established to build a repair economy from the ground up. It is a grassroots network of repair social enterprises creating jobs, tackling climate change and reducing inequality. It does this by working in partnerships with local authorities and development trusts invited by local communities. All the wealth that is generated stays within the community, creating both jobs and training opportunities through resilient social enterprise models – repair creates ten times as many jobs as recycling.” On why this was such an important organisation to work with, he continues by saying that “we live in a society that currently consumes three planets’ worth of resources to sustain its way of life. Increasingly, we’re waking up to the fact that this causes suffering, unprecedented levels of pollution, and affects the poorest communities – those who contribute least to the problem – worst.”

So creating a visual identity which brought people to Remade Network en masse was paramount. First and foremost, his included defining Remade as a “brand”, giving the network “the tools it needed to grow with clarity and confidence which felt essential when competing against the thick veneer of consumer culture,” Jack says.

The result of this venture is visually minimal but smart, taking inspiration from gearing systems, a metaphor for the fact that Remade is an interconnected system of people, things and pieces powering something bigger: societal change. “We took a stripped-back approach to the aesthetic, keeping the underlying mechanism and logic that make up a gearing system, but replacing cogs with circles,” explains Jack. “This establishes a new, more polished visual style around ‘Repair Culture’ that speaks to the quality and reliability of a repaired product, making it a desirable alternative to a new one.”

In combination with this concept, Tangent introduced illustrations by Isabella Bunnell. It’s an element which injects playfulness and humanity into the identity, also allowing it to stretch and adapt while feeling consistent when communicating the “individual character of different communities, themes or partner organisations.” Finally, this is combined Colophon foundry’s typeface Mabry, “which we chose for the balance of function and character it brought to the project,” Jack says.

As a project, Remade Network (not to mention Tangent’s work) represents exactly what we need: ethical brands which put a stop to the damaging effects of consumer culture and good design work to place those brands on a par with those that often present the easier – but harmful – alternatives. It shows what can happen when design studios use their aesthetic skills to assign value to something which is going to do good and the exciting results that can occur.

Reflecting on this unprecedented year, in which we’ve all come to understand the fragility of the system we have built, Andrew remarks that Tangent is excited to continue working on similar kinds of projects, as ultimately it is going to increase in importance in our new world. “Within the design industry we all understand the principles of branding (a concept that’s been previously so tightly aligned with commercialism) and there is a growing awareness that these principles can be applied to a variety of fields that need our immediate attention,” he says. “As a studio, we want to help redefine the way people perceive consumer culture, sustainability, and wealth distribution, for example – all the things that require serious consideration at this point in time.”

GalleryTangent: Remade Network (Copyright © Tangent, 2020)

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Tangent: Remade Network (Copyright © Tangent, 2020)

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About the Author

Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.

rbd@itsnicethat.com

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