Project / To promote British Creativity, Innovation & Design
Task / Logos, Visual Identities, Exhibitions & Design Collaterals
Client / Department of Trade & Industry, UK (DTI) and British High Commission, Kuala Lumpur
Year / 1998—2004
In collaboration with Nikki Rowntree (PR Consultant), London
WHW Legacy Projects—1998+
BRITAIN IN MALAYSIA
Launched in Kuala Lumpur in 1998, Britain in Malaysia—Just Between Friends is a celebration of the long-standing, strong, and successful partnership between the two countries. Among the many events promoted as part of the campaign include the uk.today@klcc exhibition, trade fairs, music, film and theatre, store promotions, club nights, educational exchanges, and sporting events.
uk.today@klcc was the highlight of the Britain in Malaysia campaign—a major exhibition to celebrate Britain’s creativity, innovation, and design. The exhibition was officiated by HM Queen Elizabeth II during her state visit to Malaysia in conjunction with the XVI Commonwealth Games in 1998.
Background: Remember ‘Cool Britannia’?
Cool Britannia was, in hindsight, a period of media and marketing hype aimed at promoting the UK to an international audience. The phrase was taken up as a label for the cultural renaissance that happened during the heady, innocent early days of UK’s New Labour government—a time “when a young prime minister with a dodgy haircut, elected by a landslide, rubbed shoulders and quaffed white wine with the cream of London luvviedom”, reports The Telegraph (article dated 11 December 2017; 20 years after Tony Blair’s garish Downing Street party which led to the idea of a ‘creative industry’).
After overturning 18 years of fusty Conservative rule, the idealistic new PM was determined to show that he was doing things differently. London was finally swinging again, and self-consciously, ‘Brit Pop’ and ‘Brit Art’ became the ‘in’ thing. The new Government co-opted celebrity pop stars, actors, artists, and designers into the heart of the establishment; and then rebranded UK as a ‘cultural powerhouse’, spectacularly presented via the Millennium Dome and the aptly named powerhouse::uk exhibition.
The Foreign Office also assisted this effort by convening a special task force “to help give Britain a ‘cool’ image abroad”. It was how this infectious optimism and enthusiasm reached Kuala Lumpur, and consequently, how our design firm got involved.
How far away it all seems in 2017.
Ultimately, Cool Britannia’s giddy cultural fantasia collapsed with the 2003 Iraq war, and the term itself is since used with caution.
Our first obstacle in this project presented itself very soon: there were no exhibition halls available for the uk.today@klcc exhibition as it coincided with the Commonwealth Games. With the deadline fast approaching, a decision was made to build a large translucent pyramid to house the exhibition at Petronas Twin Towers (KLCC)'s outdoor car parking lot.
The exhibition catered to a whole spectrum of visitors: from casual walk-ins, young and old; to businesses and trade partners; to creatives, academics, and students. The 24-page education pack and worksheets distributed at the event contained suggestions of activities, questions, and discussion topics based on a selection of displays from the exhibition. It was meant to help teachers encourage students to apply the information that they gained at the exhibition to a Malaysian context and to their own concerns about lifestyle, health, safety, design, and the future.
After uk.today@klcc, our designers created visual identities and collaterals for UK events across Southeast Asia. The theme and content of these promotions were country-specific, and thus did not share a common visual identity.
The designEXCELLENCE exhibition in Manila brought together some of Britain’s most progressive companies—from electronics to environment, fashion to interiors—thereby shaping the exhibition into a sourcing centre for new ideas and innovations from qualityBRITAIN.
The theme selected for the UK & Vietnam Creative Partnerships week was communication—a showcase of design creativity and innovation linking Vietnamese and British designers in modern partnerships.
The event included projects that focused on graphic, industrial, product, and fashion design; sharing ideas and inspirations for the future through a series of workshops, seminars, exhibitions, and fashion shows.
Our work for Australia focused on collaterals promoting UK’s participation in the Mercedes Australia Fashion Week 2000.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
In recognition of Dubai’s status as a leading retail centre, Xperience UK was a stunning showcase of creativity that included the glamour of fashion, the creativity of design innovation, and the dynamics of the world’s best retailers.
(Xperience UK logo was created in the UK. We adapted the visual identity for the collaterals.)
MANCHESTER IN MALAYSIA
NW–SE: Manchester in Malaysia was a week-long event that showcased a modern mix of music, fashion, and broadcast technologies.
Manchester is well-known for its sporting and musical talent. It also has a long history of business talent, pioneering developments in technology, transport, engineering, physics, computing, medical research, education and robotics.
The city has the UK’s highest investment for research and development—Marketing Manchester, MIDAS and British High Commission are our clients for this project.
A t-shirt motif design competition was organised for full-time students studying in a design or art school in Malaysia and Britain. The winner from each country received an all-expenses-paid trip to the other country, with an opportunity for work placement and cultural exchange for a month.
Poster and entry form for students in Malaysia (‘music + fashion + a blank t-shirt’).
Poster and entry form for students in Britain (‘fancy hanging out in Malaysia?’).
CREATIVE INDUSTRIES TRADE MISSION
Arts in Business : Business in Arts UK was the first-of-its-kind effort to make its way from Malaysia to the UK, with the intention of enhancing collaboration between the creative industries of both countries. 19 arts organisations and institutions, including Istana Budaya, the National Art Gallery, Galeri Petronas, Five Arts Centre, Dramalab, Multimedia Development Corporation, FINAS, and WHW & Associates participated in this mission to Manchester and Liverpool. Our designers created the collaterals.
BRITISH HIGH COMMISSION, KUALA LUMPUR
From 1998 to 2002, we worked closely with Trade Partners UK and British High Commission to create many design collaterals to facilitate trade between Britain and Malaysia.