James Cropper has recently completed a design project to transform its paper delivery fleet in partnership with Foldability.
Led by sixth generation chairman Mark Cropper, the brief was challenging. The artwork had to communicate the intrinsic beauty of James Cropper's bespoke papers, be delivered at a huge scale – the full length of an articulated truck – and to an unprecedented quality.
Foldability was founded by Scottish designer Kyla McCallum in 2013 and uses the principles of origami and geometry across its works.
James Cropper chairman, Mark Cropper, said: ‘I came across Kyla's work on Instagram and it immediately struck a chord. Her work transforms a flat sheet into something dynamic and multi-dimensional that redefines the material. It is simple, but beautiful and completely authentic. The fit was perfect.’
Following a trip to Kyla's East End studio to find out more, Mark Cropper commissioned her to create four paper sculptures, each to be made from Kendal Green paper, James Cropper's signature colour.
Kyla McCallum, Foldability founder, commented: ‘The four paper sculptures include a total of over 10,000 lines, each one folded individually by hand. I wanted to create pieces with interesting geometric patterns that could work at the largest scale and reflect the precision and craftsmanship that James Cropper is known for.’
A film of the process was also commissioned from Pantling Studio – as well as photographs to the highest definition available. The final images submitted to trailer supplier Schmitz Cargobull were over 1GB each, the highest definition it had ever handled.
Mark continued, ‘Every fold and crease is visible, even the texture of the paper itself. The final result is fabulous. It is perfect representation of what James Cropper stands for – an unmatched dedication to quality, and every sheet of material tailor made to exacting specifications. The three dimensionality is also very fitting, providing a link with our newest paper product Colourform, a fully recyclable alternative to moulded plastic.’
At the heart of the project is the company's Kendal Green paper, a bespoke colour based on a woollen cloth the area was famous for in the middle ages. The original pigments used to dye the cloth were identified and the colour brought back to life in James Cropper's colour lab.
‘I was very keen our brand colour had an authentic provenance,’ noted Mark. ‘We have been experts in colour for over 170 years and this experience is a key reason brands from all around the world choose to work with us. So, it was important our own colour was as unique and true to our roots as those we make for so many others.’
James Cropper has a legacy when it comes to livery and its special connection with the local area, however the development of a vehicle fleet has been essential to the distribution of its specialist papers across the globe. In the early days horse and cart and then a petrol driven tram, christened Rachel after James Cropper's eldest daughter, were used. The company launched its first fleet in the 1960s, replacing it in the late 1980s with livery showing a paper cut design of the Cumbrian hills, before the James Cropper logo was placed centre stage in 2008. Today, the livery is a very modern expression of the company’s colour and papermaking expertise.