If the sign and graphics industry has a challenge to face it’s that there’s a simply huge gulf between those who make signs and graphics and those who buy them. The gulf is represented on the one hand by the amazing potential bound up in the interplay of human talents, hardware, and materials available to sign producers, and on the other, sign buyers’ understanding of what that potential makes possible. Customers, sign buyers, tend to ask for what they know to be possible or what exists, and signs and graphics producers tend to make what they’re asked for. In truth, signs and graphics producers are capable of doing much more.
That’s certainly the case where i4Signs and Graphics’ talents are under the microscope. i4signs and Graphics is based in Bognor Regis and has been in business for over twenty years. The company offers its customers in the region, and further afield, a full range of sign design and manufacturing output and also extends its talents to offering visual communications services including the production of printed material such as brochures. i4 has moved with the times. It’s well equipped, it makes the most of the talented team it has, it uses a full spectrum of modern materials - and it makes the most of every opportunity that comes its way.
One such opportunity recently came to i4signs in the shape of an enquiry from The Knights Table, a restaurant offering its customer a traditional carvery with a medieval theme. The client approached i4signs with ideas and an appetite beyond its own offerings involving signs. Ideas meet with very fertile imaginations and with proven capability at i4signs and Graphics. Olly Hopwood and the i4signs team got their heads together and conceived a transformation beyond signs as usual. They invited the client to come along and discuss a further reaching proposal. A meeting was held, and i4signs was instructed to deliver every element it proposed.
The transformation and the extent of i4signs work is remarkable.
The restaurant’s interior walls now have their exposed aspects rendered in a rugged hand-hewn stone-bricked design printed on Metamark’s DecorMark MD-WA material. The variation of this versatile material chosen was sand-textured giving the print a feel similar to the material it represents. Like all of the decor elements in the Knight Table project, the wall decor was printed on an Epson Surecolour wide format inkjet printer. The proven combination of this printer and Metamark MD-Class materials once again demonstrates its potency.
Familiar looking serving counters where eager diners get to choose their carvery meats are usually rather industrial looking mobile devices made from stainless steel. The Knights Tables’ counters follow the convention but thanks to i4signs creativity and the application of some matt-laminated Metamark MD5-A they are transformed. Rather than facing diners with an expanse of inert looking metal, a planked design hung with battle-worn shields makes its presence felt and adds its own contribution to the restaurant’s ambience.
Metamark MD5-A makes a welcome appearance at ceiling height too and fulfils a functional need in addition to decorative effect. To achieve subdued levels of lighting in the restaurant’s interior, a very large conservatory roof needed taming and the streams of light it admitted toning down. i4signs’ solution to the challenge was an applied photomural adhered to the glazed interior surface.
The mural is printed on MD5-A which features an air evacuation feature in the product’s MetaScape Adhesive. Ideal for glazed, and other, smooth surfaces, the feature doesn’t give trapped air anywhere to hide. It’s simply smoothed away without the need for wet application techniques making application in situations where application might otherwise be difficult, faster and less error prone.
i4signs’ design for the conservatory ceiling mural is an expanse of bare branches scratching away at an overcast sky. It provides another touch point in setting the required ambience in the restaurant. The barren ‘view’ to the cold vista outside making all those dining inside appreciative of the contrasting warmth, the wonderful food and the company.
Further touches abound at The Knights Table, all of them demonstrating that i4signs did a really great job of getting its creative team’s heads around the applications opportunities that might further enhance the ambience and effect. A staircase for example had a span of mirrors on its bordering wall and, in the original brief, these were to be removed. They got a reprieve however thanks again to a transformative treatment offers by the i4signs team.
Metamark 7 Series coloured vinyl in matt black was applied up on the mirrors’ glazed surfaces. The 7 Series has undergone a recent enhancement at Metamark. The range was updated to include up-to-the-minute colours reflecting modern tastes and applications - none of which was of interest to i4signs given its mission with The Knights Table. Instead, matt black from the range was stencil cut and then expertly applied, hiding most of the mirrors’ surfaces but leaving the required detail peeping though. The effect is startling and perfectly at home is the midst of it surroundings.
Remaining with the mirrored staircase, other elements of contemporary architecture such as the stairs’ glazed balustrade would have looked completed incongruous given the surrounding decor treatments. i4signs recognised this and came up with an imaginative solution involving a quantity of Metamark Etch Effect Film.
i4signs printed a design comprising knights or soldiers on horseback on the Metamark Etch Effect film and applied it to the glazed balustrade. The transparent inks and the translucency of the etch film work together to deliver all of the detail and some of the colour rendered in the design. The mood of the printed material changes as prevailing lighting conditions change. It also has a somewhat faded and aged quality about it and yet is neither aged or faded. It’s another brilliant effect and a hardworking part of the ensemble.
Etch Effect films from Metamark are formulated and designed to be print receptive but despite this, the vast majority of Metamark Etch material that is purchased is sent to application that don’t involve printing. At The Knights Table though, the data is reversed practically all of the Metamark Etch Effect film in use, is printed.
One window in particular uses printed etch to obscure the view out, just like any piece of etch might, but to provide an alternative view more in keeping with the whole look and feel of the restaurant. A glance to the window now reveals a bleak looking castle courtyard in stark monochrome. Again, prevailing light reflect the mood, on this occasion of the exterior. Lighting works with the design and the cold looking view contacts powerfully with the welcoming interior.
The window continuations add to their ranks a number of stained glass decoration produced by i4signs using its etch printing skills. The stained glass versions add more colour to the mix and introduce the them of English kings into the decor scheme. These devices pull their weight too and accent an overall programme that really delivers and looks nothing less than sensational.
If signs and graphics producers do have an issue or challenge to face it’s that, to a man, they can claim to be, at the least, not fully understood in terms of what they can do. i4signs can claim to have broken through that barrier by entertaining a receptive customer to the whole idea of what’s possible and delivering more that the client initially expected.
In setting out its menu, i4signs has not just helped a client set out its, the team there have well and truly imprinted the business on the map.