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Kangaroo Works – Turning Sheffield industrial heritage into a modern brand and interior build-to-rent for its community of rental residents Interior image of amenity space Interior image of amenity space Interior image of reception area with plants and artwork Interior image of Kangaroo Works resident postboxes Amenity space artwork Detail image of amenity space furniture Interior image of communal space Detail image of door and handles Interior image of communal space Kangaroo Works vinyl print on glass door Detail image of communal space furniture Communal space with residents Amentity and communal space artwork Amenity wayfinding artwork Detail image of amenity space furniture Detail image of Kangaroo Works neon signage Entrance spatial artwork

Kangaroo Works – Turning Sheffield industrial heritage into a modern brand and interior build-to-rent for its community of rental residents

93ft worked on the interior design and brand identity for Kangaroo Works, a mixed-used, residential development forming part of Sheffield city centre Heart of the City II regeneration. With a rich history and cultural heritage to explore, the 93ft team created an experience for residents that felt grounded in place and culture.

Robert Sorby & Co – makers of edge tools

The unique industrial heritage of Sheffield is rooted in the production of steel and ‘edge tools’. As global demand for Sheffield’s wares grew, distinctive ‘urban works’ or ‘integrated works’ transformed small scale, rural-based ‘little mesters’ into city-centre workshop production lines, centred around courtyards to produce on an industrial scale. Many of Sheffield city centre streets have a storied past and industrial history waiting to be explored and rediscovered.

Initial research and a historical deepdive offered up fantastic inspiration for a fresh visual identity to 166 Rockingham Street – Robert Sorby & Co, makers of edge tools. Their products included adzes, axes, augers, joiners’ tools, saws, scythes, hooks, sheep shears and ice skates to name a few. In 1833, there were 59 edge tool and 74 saw makers registered in Sheffield. Of those makers, only Robert Sorby survives to this day.

Robert Sorby built up a strong reputation in North America, South America, New Zealand and Australia. The Kangaroo brand, which was used up until the 1980s, was adopted to emphasise the company's interest in Australia. The growing worldwide demand for steel meant overseas travel and trade was reflected in the names of many of the factories or brands. In the case of Robert Sorby & Co, the factory was known as Kangaroo Works. 

A tangible connection to the unique history of the site offered a perfect chance to regenerate the past with a striking new identity. One that would rebuild and celebrate the past, and not pave over it, allowing the residents of Kangaroo Works to connect with the history and culture of the site.

Regenerating the past, not resetting it

93ft believes that to cement a place or brand into its environment, there has to be an understanding and respect for the past. Regenerating history for a fresh purpose can help a brand or space become grounded in the community, and provide an authentic sense of identity that hits the right note for contemporary audiences.

The finer details of a project are the key component in elevating a good experience into a great experience and Kangaroo Works was the ideal chance to cover all bases. From handcrafted pieces and brick-fronted facade, to archival Kangaroo brand artwork pieces and repurposed fixtures, fittings and materials for an industrial aesthetic – each interior and brand touchpoint celebrates the history of the site. 

Artwork adorning the walls of amenity spaces frames both the past and the present, with pieces showcasing the likes of the original ‘Kangaroo Skates’, work from notable Sheffield artists, sketched kraft paper showing the workings and process of the Kangaroo Works neon signage in the reception, and eye-catching amenity artwork signage housing the refined kangaroo symbol. 

Carrying the industrial aesthetic through into an impactful spatial concept for the reception space, 93ft designed edge tool shaped perforated aluminium sheets to hang from the ceiling, powder coated in a RAL colour for an industrial visual punch. Neon Workshops then fabricated the tool forms and custom built the neon 'edges', suspending them using steel cables and Gripple ties. The result is a contemporary homage to the past, bringing the space to life along with a custom built Kangaroo Works neon lettered sign to light the way home for its residents. 

93ft also commissioned local wood-turning company Woodware Repetitions to supply handcrafted wooden door handles to create a tangible connection between the revitalised former ‘edge tool’ factory and its revitalised residential space. 

Alongside the interior project, the 93ft design team took inspiration from the original packaging of the “Kangaroo Skate” to breathe new life into the "Kangaroo Brand" and contemporise the past into a modern identity. Again, it was the details that helped create a brand greater than the sum of its parts.

The foundation for an engaging and unique identity for a build-to-rent development was found in the deep mustard tones, vintage typography and iconic kangaroo symbol of the original packaging. Refining and revitalising these elements to give them new purpose has given Kangaroo Works an identity that feels both fresh and appropriate – regenerating the past to build for the future.

Creating meaningful experiences 

At 93ft we value authenticity. Kangaroo Works was a perfect opportunity to create meaningful brand and interior pieces that were rooted in the story of the space, with considered details at every touchpoint to help elevate the project. 

That attention to detail and respect for the history of a space has been recognised by one of the residents. They shared their thoughts on the development with us on Instagram:

"I just wanted to say, I am a resident at Kangaroo Works, and I just got to see the new lounge area. I absolutely love the design and the tributes to Sheffield heritage and the former factory site – is well thought out and of good quality. Even though it’s just a rental property, for me this is my home, so I appreciate the attention to detail and quality. Thank you so much. I just hope it stays this nice! I love all the artwork as well, especially the record player with Sheffield artists."

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Would you like to work with the award-winning 93ft brand, digital and interiors team?

93ft is an independent, employee-owned design studio with a collective passion for storytelling. We work hand-in-hand with our clients to create brands and experiences that feel grounded in place, community and culture. 

Our full-service team combines creative strategy, design, digital, interior design, architecture and manufacturing to bring brands to life, helping them to build meaningful connections with their audience. Our network of both in-house and external craftspeople, artisans, specialists, designers, developers, fabricators, branding experts and architects ensure no stone is unturned. 

Whatever your goals for your business or organisation, 93ft’s award winning approach to creating holistic brand experiences can help get you there. With 93ft as your partner, we can develop and shape your brand identity, transform your online presence and physical space, help you discover your unique offering and customer experience, engage your audience through comprehensive SEO research, and achieve your marketing goals. 

Get in touch today to tell us about your exciting new project, we'd love to show you how we could elevate your offering.

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