RFA Designers reacts to Widnes science centre

Bradford-based RFA Designers has created an identity for Catalyst, the ‘science discovery centre’ in Widnes, and is now working on a major refurbishment project that includes an overhaul of its exhibition spaces.

Catalyst has been in existence for more than a decade and positions itself as the only UK science centre ‘solely devoted to chemistry as well as how the products of chemistry are used in everyday life’.

But, according to RFA graphic designer Andrew Galvin, free entry for national museums has affected its visitor numbers, while Catalyst’s image was also ‘out of date’.

The new identity is ‘modern and fluid’, drawing on a molecular theme, without being ‘too industrial, off-putting or in-your-face in a chemical sense,’ Galvin says. The marque needs to appeal to ‘people from different backgrounds’, as Catalyst has both professional and public audiences.

Catalyst joint project manager Hugh Stuart-Buttle says the work is about ‘repositioning the centre as an exciting place for the future at the heart of science education in the region’.

‘We needed the design to portray science and science-based industries in a way that’s seen to be high-tech and innovative,’ Stuart-Buttle adds.

Initial use of the logo will be on stationery and in sponsorship materials, as Catalyst seeks additional capital funding. It has already secured a £250 000 grant from the North West Regional Development Agency.

The interiors brief will focus on constructing a ‘multimedia theatre and a discovery laboratory’, in addition to revamping the reception area and café. Manchester-based Centrescreen is working on a ‘virtual tour’ of the museum.

RFA won the work after a four-way creative pitch in June.

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