Marmadukes

Iconic poster artwork series for the Youth Hostel Association
10th March, 2022

Iconic poster artwork series for the Youth Hostel Association

Celebrating 90 years of the YHA with a fresh new look and feel for its iconic posters rooted in heritage and vibrant use of colour and striking graphic design.

For almost a century the YHA has encouraged and supported urbanites to leave the confines of the city and venture out into the countryside, for health, happiness and a richness of experience. 

YHA is a charitable organisation “on a mission to enrich the lives of all, but especially young people, and improve physical health, mental wellbeing and life skills through the experiences we create.”

YHA approached 93ft to help celebrate their 90 year anniversary with a series of posters to use across their locations throughout England and Wales, showcasing the diverse locations and variety of accommodation on offer. 

We identified the brief during our creative direction workshop - to create materials which speak to the YHA’s rich history while looking to the future, to draw on the past yet speak to the issues of today. 

A lot has changed in the YHA’s 90 years, but some things remain the same. Now more than ever, there’s a need to get outside more, to leave work and the city behind for a while, to explore, to create new memories and experiences, to share our beautiful countryside with our children and young people.

The YHA is about escape, yes, but perhaps more about finding oneself, coming home to who we really are when the pressures of everyday life are removed, just for a while. 

Selecting the best of artists and experts to meet our clients’ needs

93ft is proud to work with independent artisans and to bring these masters in their field together with the client that’s right for them. 

Our network of experts are incredibly passionate about what they do - from reviving traditional neon signage to designing and building bespoke cabinetry, as well as many different illustrators and graphic designers. 93ft is able to act as a facilitator, introducing our clients to artists they may have been unaware of and elevating the artists’ work to bring the perfect style to the project. 

We worked with Sam Chivers, a UK based illustrator with a versatile style that we knew would fit perfectly. Sam’s work has featured in The Guardian, GQ and New Scientist, to name a very few. 

We loved his distinctive bright and vibrant style, and so did our clients. 

Taking inspiration from the past to create an entirely modern feel

We took our inspiration from the travel posters of the 20s and 30s. This was a time when rail travel was becoming more affordable and accessible for the British public and the government was encouraging people from the polluted cities to escape to the countryside.

A series of posters from the V&A collection shows a group of young people leaving a factory, downcast and gaunt in the smoggy air. They’re encouraged to go to the countryside where they stop at a Youth Hostel, before returning “fit and healthy” having taken in the good air and walked amongst the hills. 

These three posters were designed by Lilian Dring - an artist who later became known for her work in textiles - in 1940, right at the beginning of WW2. The government banned commercial posters soon after to ensure that the impact of the ubiquitous propaganda wasn’t diluted, so these posters were among the last advertisements to be seen in the UK until the war ended. 

This era, where the golden age of Youth Hostels began and where the image of the YHA was cemented as making adventure in the countryside accessible for younger people, gave the inspiration for our series. 

From branding to furniture design

The 93ft workshop designed and built various pieces of bespoke furniture for YHA hostels across the UK, using our signature blend of sustainably sourced and reclaimed materials to create a unique look and feel for each location. 

Our interiors team also  helped to develop an iconic YHA aesthetic through materiality and design in the bespoke pieces we created for select locations. 

We used colour and logo application to establish clear YHA brand ownership, putting the focus on key messaging with colour contrast and type size and adapting the design to a modular system to make it suitable for small and large versions depending on the space available. 

Win your own Sam Chivers artwork

The YHA is offering a chance to win one of five signed, framed A2 prints by Sam Chivers. 

The timeless posters graced the covers of The Journey throughout 2021, celebrating the 90 year anniversary with Sam’s series of vibrant posters, loosely based on real-life YHA locations. The posters celebrate the past while looking to the future – chiming with YHA’s ethos of 90-plus years. 

The YHA has five A2 prints to give away, and all winners will receive their choice of Countryside, Coast or City posters – framed, mounted and signed.

To be in with a chance of winning this superb prize, simply send an email to magazine@yha.org.uk by Friday 18 March 2022, stating your preferred artwork. 

YHA will choose the winners at random.

93ft is proud to support the YHA - here’s to the next 9 decades!

For branding, furniture design, interiors are more, just get in touch

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