Craig Ward and Sunspel
We collaborated with legendary British designer, Craig Ward, to produce a capsule inspired by the festive season and the Sunspel archive. His intriguing monochromatic designs are found on our luxury lambswool jumper, loopback sweatshirt, socks and classic T-shirt.
Craig Ward is never quite sure how to define himself. Designer, creative director, author, typographer - he fits the bill for all of them. Some of his work you could put under the “artist” category but, he retorts with a smile, “I’ve got actual artist friends who’d laugh me out of the room.” Nevertheless, without knowing it, you will have seen Craig’s work, whether it be on an Aesop soap bottle, Calvin Klein perfume, the front page of Time Magazine or on the back of an England football shirt. His designs have been at the vanguard of the industry for 20 years. His first book Popular Lies About Graphic Design (Actar, 2012) was an Amazon bestseller and has been translated into four languages. In 2015, Computer Arts Magazine named him one of the 25 most important designers of all time, but he adds modestly, “I’m still not sure how I feel about that!”
So we knew a collaboration with Craig Ward would lead to something unique. The capsule is inspired by the festive season, working words into interesting shapes and patterns. But the bold and abstract designs find as much inspiration in the Sunspel archive and the physical process of making textiles as they do in the winter holidays. The monochrome palette and ambiguous patterns mean the resulting pieces can be worn all year round. We spoke to him to find out more about his creative process, the Sunspel collaboration and what it was like to have his work seen by over 2 billion football fans.
With the football World Cup going on at the moment, what was it like designing the type for the previous England football shirts?
It was a cool project! There’d only ever been one designer who’d ever been asked to do a custom font for them so it was a big deal for me. So many jobs get pitched as “exposure projects” and that was definitely one. The global viewership of the World Cup is what 2 billion? It’s insane! In terms of eyes on your work, I don’t think I’ll ever do something like that again.
You’ve done such an array of work over the years, what would you say, if anything, is the “Craig Ward style”?
I’d say my style is a thinking process rather than a recognisable look. Some of my favourite projects have been the ones where I’ve set something in motion and let it dictate the end result, not knowing exactly what would come out. Initially, I used to work a lot with letterpress. You could print the same letter 100 times and you’d get a slightly different result every time. As I moved on that was something I wanted to continue, that random aspect.
Who have been your biggest influences and inspirations over the years?
I’ve never really referred to designers for inspiration. I’m much more interested in photographers like Nick Knight and Solve Sundsbo or fashion designers like Alexander McQueen. People who just experiment a lot, using different materials in unexpected ways.
How did you arrive at the designs for the Sunspel collaboration?
It was a tricky one. To start with we ran into a lot of roadblocks and realised there were lots of things we couldn’t do. But that’s important, creativity thrives on limitations. I’m paraphrasing someone when I say that - I can’t remember who! So I started thinking about the limitations of the process and the way clothes were produced. Specifically, I was thinking about looms and the way threads are separated and brought together and that inspired this moiré approach to designing the type.
And the festive element?
I came up with some festive words and some different type treatments and compositions based on those. The H and the O in the “hohoho” for example were abstracted enough that it could just be a pattern but if you know what you’re looking for you can find the messaging in there too.
The pressure was on because I absolutely love Christmas! I really, really love Christmas! I’m like an actual child around it so I was really grateful when David [Sunspel’s Creative Director] approached me with the project.