A landmark collaboration between the Polish Social and Cultural Association (POSK) in the UK, the Polish Hearth Club and the Polish Cultural Institute, the Granville-Skarbek Anglo-Polish Cultural Exchange celebrates Polish contributions to British life. Design Culture were delighted to be appointed to deliver the project, working closely with curator Dr Julia Griffin.
Named after Britain’s first female secret agent Krystyna Skarbek, better known as Christine Granville, the cultural exchange is part online museum, part research hub.
The brain-child of Dr Marek Laskiewicz, Chairman of POSK (the largest Polish cultural centre outside Poland), the exchange explores contributions made by people of Polish descent to British life in the past 200 years and highlights the key events and circumstances which have triggered major waves of emigration over that period. It was prompted by concerns that British links with Polish history are undervalued, particularly in comparison with Italian or French influences.’
Julia Griffin, Project Curator says: ‘Our project builds on the great interest in the Anglo-Polish cultural links explored in the Young Poland exhibition. The Anglo-Polish Cultural Exchange will double as a cultural and social campaign. Telling our shared history of Anglo-Polish heritage, it aims to create relevant and relatable content for Britain’s diverse audiences whilst countering stereotypes.
In what was a very fast-moving project, with an ambitious timeline to launch the platform in three months, we needed to work very closely with the client from the outset.
With a name settled upon, we created a bi-lingual, animated logo that would dynamically speak to both the Anglo-Polish nature and the sense of exchange in how it moves from one language version to another.
The brand’s colour palette centres around a deep purple that references the colour of the iconic ‘Polish Spirit’ flower, part of the Clematis family, said to reflect the character and history of the Polish people, including their indomitable spirit in the face of invasion, wars and forced emigration. A group of warm, tonal colours sit around the purple, anchored by use of black and white in design application – a conscious choice to ensure the colours of the rich and varied imagery of the Exchange can lead.
Working on the brand’s evolution in the context of the project allowed for a digital-first approach, meaning natural priority was given to how the brand needs to work in the digital space during the process. It allowed for the fullest brand thinking to be taken into the information architecture and design of the digital experience the new website delivers to users.
The project team had a clear vision for the different parts of the Exchange, so we had strong direction to respond to to kick-start the project.
How we framed and shaped the delivery was critical to our ability to deliver in a very short timeframe. We discussed all wants and needs, and proposed a navigation, architecture and site map along with a walk through of key templates and modules we would deliver to be able to have a website platform ready for what was a fixed and immovable launch date. This included clarity around what we needed from the client, in what form, by when.
We ensure any website we deliver is future-proofed as far as possible, so understanding what the platform could be and do in the future is an important part of the initial scoping process.
The platform includes articles on up-to-the-minute cultural exchanges, an anglo-polish research area for contributors, an online exhibition covering contributions to culture from the turn of the eighteenth century to the present day and an interactive map of UK Landmarks of interest – with an interactive Timeline still to launch.
The Exchange has been very well received following its launch as part of the Anglo-Polish Cultural Exchange Festival. It is expected to grow in size and offer as more contributors become involved in creating content. With an advanced set up of Google Analytics in place, we’re able to review what it is that users are really engaging and interacting with, so we can plan how to develop the platform further and give the audience more of what it wants.
Dr Julia Griffin, Project Curator, POSK
Kristen and all the team at Design Culture have been exceptional – building our bespoke website in just 3 months and helping with its ongoing development. They are unrivalled in terms of both project management and technical development, as well as quick response times. We look forward to working with them in the next stages of the project.