Mill Yard Hand painted signs and personalised placeholders
Home to a number of boutique retail offerings in a collective of converted outbuildings, Mill Yard resides just off the high street in West Malling, Kent. Despite its prime location, this tiny hamlet of shopping delights had sparser footfall than expected. To help spotlight the space and bring the complex together aesthetically, Mike Ringer of Bedlars asked us to give it a fresh lick of paint and kit it out with some signature outdoor signage.
With the likes of a tearoom, a jewellery shop and a wedding dress retailer to spend time and money in, Mill Yard is a small hub thriving with artistic or designer independents. Naturally, the businesses operating behind its barn doors competed with their outdoor signs to draw customers in, but they were happy to take a new approach that would shift the dynamic towards a stronger sense of community.
We weren’t just there to revive the local spirit by levelling the playing field – this was a comprehensive brief that required a cross-section of our skills. Bringing all the vendors under the banner of Mill Yard signature signage, we standardised each of their respective bits of external signage. Once we decided on a minimalist millstone emblem for the brand, we set about designing templates for hand painting two huge versions of it at either end of the mews.
Then we headed down to work our magic and transform this small pocket of historic Kentish countryside. Donning our hard hats, we erected some scaffolding around a couple of choice external walls and climbed up to the top of them to unleash our artisanal flair on the local skyline. Armed with blow chalk and exterior emulsion, we put a white rendition up against the backdrop of a black timber clad outbuilding at the front of the development, and a black and grey adaptation on the white render of the concrete buildings at the back.
At ground level, the barn doors at the entrance of the Old Mill Tearoom and The Gallery were swung open to the public during business hours and left that way for the day, exposing a canvas ripe for some promotion. Taking the opportunity, we hand painted the business names onto the wooden panels in a stencil typeface for that rustic style – counterbalancing the more contemporary signage throughout.
The shopfront signage above each entryway and a neat sign directory of all the businesses located in the courtyard were finished in a clean grey – each piece customisable and prefabricated in house at our shop and stamped with the Mill Yard signature signage to help enforce the brand and unify the space.
At the front entrance to the Mill Yard, opposite a late medieval hall, we were lucky to find a very old wonky wooden signpost with the traditional pub sign frame missing at the top of it. Eager to see a new painted wooden sign swinging from it, Mike got the post straightened up while we got to welding a made to measure frame for hanging the hand painted wooden sign, completing the traditional look.
We were onboard for a month in total, finessing ideas and figuring out what approach to take, while the whole installation only took a couple of days. Whether it was the little details like updating a low-res graphic for a resident business or hand painting the 3 meter diameter artisan branding – we scoped out, designed, organised, produced and delivered every element of the visual language at Mill Yard, harmonising the experience and successfully attracting the masses.