HNS Signs transforms FESPA’s UK headquarters

July 17, 2019

A careful selection process for signage providers was made when FESPA looked to transform their entrance atrium at their UK Headquarters at Holmbury House in Dorking. Recently appointed Technical Support Manager, Graeme Richardson-Locke identified the issue, ‘The atrium is a great architectural space but lacked any of the essential character and personality of the industries that our members belong to’ he explained. The search began to find a creative signage company that could devise a wide-ranging solution that would both inspire their own staff who work in the building as well as provide a welcoming, interesting and engaging space for visitors; including their numerous members.

The task for the winning company of portraying FESPA’s member’s activities would be challenging since it has a very broad community. It includes textiles printers, garment decorators, POS printers, signage companies and industrial printers. To reflect this wide range of disciplines would mean a multi-faceted approach. After a considerable amount of deliberation FESPA chose to work with award winning, including two consecutive Gold FESPA awards, HNS Signs. The Birmingham based company was chosen in part due to their impressive track record of applying a strong sense of creativity to large scale projects. Another key factor was their very diverse and wide experience of applying many types of print and signage techniques that would help represent the full range of FESPA’s community’s activities.

HNS Signs Managing Director, Michelle Henry was involved throughout the project, from concept creation to installation. ‘We were thrilled to work with FESPA and to be given a very specific brief in terms of overall result whilst having latitude to create the entire scheme from the ground up to accomplish it. At the same time, since we were showcasing all the industries that their members belong to and doing so in a creative way that would add colour but be sympathetic to its surroundings.’ she offered.  This was even more vital since the scheme had to compliment many contributed fine art print editions from FESPA’s global membership. Finally, the scheme also had to be flawless since the members contributed works that were chosen by FESPA themselves as being exemplary in their fields. Hence a lack of quality from the supporting scheme would be very apparent.

Given these very exacting standards, nothing was left to chance. HNS made two site surveys to get a full understanding of the building dynamics and to take measurements to ensure all elements would work harmoniously. To further ensure the success of the scheme, the company designed, manufactured, project managed and commissioned everything apart from textile banners that were manufactured by banner specialists, Bannerbox. Therefore each element of the devised scheme had a huge amount of attention devoted to it. This was all the more important for the built up stainless steel letters of the FESPA logo where each CMYK colour was converted to its Pantone to get the perfect match for spray-painting. ‘Afterall, FESPA is all about the realisation of graphics into print and signage.’ commented Henry.

The attention to detail didn’t stop there. HNS decided to design and print a wallpaper where all the FESPA member countries these could be listed and since depth had been a motif throughout the project, the company chose to make them look cut-out. For the pillar wraps, HNS used artwork from two prints which were not going to be used in the atrium and printed sections onto a vehicle wrap and matte laminated them. ‘The install of these proved challenging since the pillars were not quite level and the bottom was wider than the top!’ explained Henry.

The depth motif was employed in other parts of the scheme too. The ‘Profit for Purpose’ statement above the main entrance was CNC cut foam PVC sprayed to match the white paint used on the atrium walls. These then had sections of artwork from a textile print and again, printed these onto vehicle wrap and applied to the returns by heating in and sealing. This has the effect of the text projecting out of the wall subtly when viewed at a slight angle from it. A further emphasis on the depth of the space was using the pin stripe motifs of the FESPA brochure onto supporting glass surfaces around the atrium. A soft translucent blue vinyl was employed to give again a very delicate branding to the space.

Due to restrictions regarding the application of signage or graphics to the walls and glass facades Michelle and her team had to develop a very original solution. To make use the height of the building and to tie in this area to the rest of the scheme, they developed a mobile sculpture using solid, frosted semi translucent and translucent Perspex acrylic that was CNC cut and flame polished. The individual mobile element’s shapes and colours were taken again from FESPAs own brand guidelines and ranged in size from 500-750mm. The testing prior to installation was rigorous including several scale models and tested for strength, wind and tangling issues by hanging from HNS’s own shutter door including additional 5kg weights hung from each shape to ensure integrity.

Further inspiration was taken from FESPAs existing branding - from a motivational quote using the FESPA font using flat cut acrylic letters to highlight key words to a pin board frame for the FESPA staff. This incorporated a map of the world, taken from the FESPA brochure, where staff could print out memorable pictures from FESPA events around the world and pin them onto the map. Finally, the curation of the contributed artworks required consistent artist plaques demonstrating the same printing excellence as the works themselves. Gravoply laser laminate with 5mm matte white Perspex acrylic names was chosen. Since the laser cut lettering was so small, HNS had to ensure that there was no visible lip and so had to reverse cut it so that the lip would be on the bottom. 

‘The results speak for themselves’ states Graeme Richardson-Locke. ‘We’re very satisfied with been achieved with HNS’s scheme and our members contributions, reflecting a great cross section of creative output that I think reflects the community that FESPA supports. There will be visual cues around reminding us what an inspiring, interesting business we’re all involved with.‘

For further information on HNS Signs, please visit

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