Out of Place Studio designs playful identity for National Education Nature Park

For a Natural History Museum-led climate education scheme, the studio shaped an identity inspired by the joy of exploring nature featuring paper-cut style illustrations.

Bradford-based design agency Out of Place Studio has partnered with the National History Museum on the visual identity for the National Education Nature Park (NENP), a nation-wide scheme created to empower children to make a positive impact on nature.

The Natural History Museum (NHM) was appointed by the Department for Education to lead the partnership, working with groups such as the Royal Horticultural Society and Royal Society, and supported by Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), Manchester Metropolitan University, Learning Through Landscapes, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and the National Biodiversity Network Trust.

Out of Place Studio was commissioned to create the visual identity, which needed to appeal to an audience of educators as well as pupils from early years to college-age.

According to the studio, the identity wanted to be “inclusive, friendly, positive and engaging”. After trialling different approaches, “the one that felt the most natural was the one that harkened back our own childhoods, creating rubbings of trees and scrapbooks of plants and animal drawings”, says Out of Place Studio designer Thom Milson.

“Recreating this sense of joy in exploration was something that felt paramount to the National Education Nature Park”, he adds.

Illustrative elements in a paper-cut style form the heart of the identity, featuring a variety of animals and plants, all of which “were derived from the nature that surrounds us on a daily basis”, Milson says.

“For example, the colours that make up the brand palette are all taken from plants, flowers and insects you can find in British gardens and parks. These were only ever so slightly adjusted – where needed – to meet accessibility requirements”, he adds.

A main leaf logo was created in the same style, while other assets making use of the illustrations include badges, social media templates, roller banners and document templates.

Out of Place Studio designer Sara Alfaraj worked on animating the illustrations with a style that looked to capture their personality: “a hedgehog curiously waddles into view, a flower suddenly pops up into bloom and, as in the natural world, the illustrations disappear as quickly as they appeared”, Alfaraj says.

The typeface used throughout is Work Sans by Wei Huang, available through Google Fonts, while the website was developed by TPX Impact.

Milson explains that the studio was also keen to “include as many [project partners] as possible throughout the process so that they all felt like they had a role in shaping the finished product”, and adds that they “really helped in narrowing down” the direction for the identity.

Meanwhile going forward, “It was important to us that the brand could be accessible to as many institutions as possible”, Milson adds.

“Open-source tools, for example, the typeface – were used to provide maximum flexibility and ease of use, enabling everyone from internal staff to teachers and practitioners being able to work with the visual identity”.

While there were no existing NENP assets for the studio to work with, the identity would need to be used alongside the NHM and other partner logos for a range of applications.

However, Milson adds that when the NENP work was being created, the NHM’s own rebrand had not yet been completed, “so that became a factor we needed to consider within the project when that was revealed.”

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