The St James Collection by Marflow is a stunning range of Victorian inspired, luxury bathroom products with a contemporary twist. You can find the brand in UK locations such as Windsor Castle, Hotel Gotham alongside other high class locations around the world.

The Challenge

In previous years, their brochures had been a mix of a sales tool and a product catalogue all in one. Although this had some benefits, it was also a compromise; which limited their use as a way to show off the collection to eager new bathroom buyers.

I was commissioned to help design the new brochures for 2017. The brand wanted to take things in a different direction, re-imagining the brochures as coffee table books to promote the collection in different ways to different audiences.

A spread from the original St James Collection brochure

The competition

To get a better understanding of the situation, I researched the visual identities and brochure styles of the St James Collection by Marflow’s main competition. Of all the themes that came out of this, there were a couple of clear opportunities to make them more distinctive.

The most obvious thing you can see when you look at the competition, is that there is a visual sameness. There’s an over reliance on mono colour palettes to create an air of opulence and luxury. And to create an impression of craft and quality workmanship, many of them use black and white mechanical imagery from a bygone industrial era.

Colours and images used by other brands in the St James Collection by Marflow’s category

The visual direction

Working alongside the Marflow marketing team, I came up with some initial concepts for the visual direction of the brochures to help make them more distinctive.

Initial ideas

My initial idea was to focus on the beautiful images, with a few blocks of text scattered throughout to keep the focus on making each coffee table book a highly visual selling tool. These ideas were then expanded on to develop each brochure for the relevant audiences and their needs.

A key aspect of the art direction of the brochures was adding visual interest by creating strong diagonal lines and angles across the spreads, rather than the bland shots that rival brands had opted for.

Initial brochure Art Direction sketch.

Colour selection

A key element of developing the visual identity of the brochures was to create a strong link to the Victorian era with design cues. In terms of colour, gold and blue were often used on shop signage to show opulence during the Victorian era. So using these colours as a jumping off point (rather than a mono or black scheme) was a natural fit for the St James Collection by Marflow. It was also a good chance to link the brand back to its roots and to make it distinctive from the competition.

New colour palette for the St James Collection by Marflow

Visual symbol

Another common theme in my research was Victorian tile patterns, which are often one of the most striking things about any interior from the time. That presented another chance to tie the brochure together with a little visual nod to the collections’ Victorian roots.

Victorian pattern tile inspiration

Inspired by those Victorian tiles, I created a symbol for the brochures that could also be used as a distinctive branding element on other materials, such as product wrapping, trade show booths and more.

The brochures

The brochures are loosely sectioned in to different product areas―Showering, Taps, Accessories, Handles & Finishes. To create maximum impact, each spread features incredible imagery of the full extent of the design of the product range.

The brochures are beautifully produced with high-quality finishes throughout. The covers are printed on uncoated stock, with an embossed St James symbol and block foil lettering.