Solvay Society featured in the ‘typography’ section of Beer by Design because of the clever way the name of the beer uses a different typeface to suggest the character and personality of the beer inside. But there’s a lot more to the design story than that. We caught up with freelance designer Harry Archer to find out more.
So, Harry, where did you train? I studied art, design and media at 6th form college in Eastleigh then applied to do graphic design at Kingston University, much to the disappointment of my dad, who wanted me to accept my place at Central Saint Martin’s simply because it was mentioned in Common People by Pulp. Kingston was a super eye opening experience; there is a reason it’s the best in the country. Chatting to my college peers who ventured elsewhere, their courses lacked a lot of interest. Every day was a day full of random thoughts, interesting development and chatting about all things design. The first year was focused around idea generation, I ended my first week in front of my whole course in my boxers with my hands tied together (don’t ask). The second year was more commercial thinking about design and applying it correctly. Final year was bringing the lessons you learnt from the previous years, actively merging them together to have super exciting outcomes that communicated your idea succinctly. The course was very independent but the studio culture of working in a creative space was probably the most beneficial part. Bouncing ideas off of friends and watching people just do stuff was essential to growing as a graphic designer.
What are your design influences?
I have always had an interest in subtle design elements that have a real meaning behind why, the ‘why’ does need to be important. I spend quite a long time just asking myself ‘Why have I done this?’. One of my first influences was visual and sound artist Ryoji Ikeda, After seeing this type of design work I began to rein it in slightly; things can look awesome for the sake of being awesome. Other than that I am always finding more and more influences to my design practice through the endless scrolling on Instagram, I have discovered some really neat new studios who are killing it right now, like ilovedust, Studio Yukiko and Studio Blackburn.
Tell us about your work for Solvay Society. “I remember when Roman (Founder/head-brewer of Solvay Society) first got in touch about doing the re-brand. Up to that point I was just designing what they were after and it lacked consistency. It was quite daunting to begin, I looked into what others were doing which drew me to the use of pattern, It was quite a common thing to see these so I wanted to do something that was different but the same. We came up with ‘The 3 Faces’ that make Solvay Society cans so recognisable. The first face, the archway, has a sense of welcome with the name and type of the beer and a colour trim down the sides. The second face is the blurb section which is so prominent because Roman has such a strong reason for his choice of ingredients, the purpose of the beer and the process and I felt it was important for people to be able to read about it in detail. The third face is a pattern that sticks to the colour palette and reflects the beer name or purpose. For example, 8:20 features the striking rays of the sun, as it takes 8 minutes and 20 seconds for the sunlight to travel the darkness of space and illuminate the Earth’s surface.
The minimal colour palette was also important. The design is mono and the variety comes from the striking colours that appear on about less than 10% of the design. Having black cans was a key design decision.
It has always been a top tier list for me to work with a beer brand, but one I could say I have made my stamp on. Amazingly to this day I am yet to meet Roman face to face, but he’s been very happy with the work that we have done to bring Solvay Society into the more modern market of craft beer, so that makes me super happy. Working remotely you would think it would have a hindrance, but 2020 proved it certainly can be the new new.
Apart from your own, which is your favourite beer design and why? “I am adoring the story behind the Overtone brewing cans, the love of music and beer. I also love me a bit of techno and merging the worlds from two together to create a stand out branding is pretty sick.”
Apart from Solvay Society, who’s your favourite brewery and why? “I have had a huge love for Camden Town Brewery since I got an opportunity to visit their factory on a ‘staff training’ day, learning about the process which ultimately inspired one of my final year university projects. They have such beautiful branding and everything they do is just brilliant. I even collect their exclusive cans because that’s how large an impact they have had on me. Just need to figure out a better way to display them.”
Favourite pub or bar? “Local bar to me called Belgium and Blues, killer night out, whilst trying some of the nicest beers Southampton has to offer, not to mention the bitterballen.”
Favourite bar snack? “No competition. Snyder’s Jalapeño pretzel pieces.”
What music are you currently listening to? “A bit of alternative indie rock, The Cribs new one is pretty good and Glass Animals. Also been listening to songs from Tarantino films, just because it’s so iconic.”
Are you reading anything interesting? “I received a book about street food recently; if there’s another interest I have other than design work, it’s street food. The other book is Accidentally Wes Anderson, the book born from the Instagram page of the same name.”
What are you looking forward to in 2021? “I am mostly looking forward to progress of normality, not visited any galleries or exhibitions in what feels like forever. I also have tickets to The Book of Mormon which I have been desperate to see on stage. Exciting new design projects in the pipeline are also well up there.”
Cats or dogs? “Cats by far. My love of mine has been immortalised on a cup. Solid Christmas present from my other half.”
Nice one, Harry.