In the modern world of social media and mass publication, it’s difficult to stand out as a brand or a unique business unless you have an unlimited budget and nationwide advertising campaigns. A Mid-Wales based staircase manufacturer has used its in-house design team to come up with some more inventive ideas for getting people to talk about their company and recognise their brand. One of their more ambitious projects recently was to purchase a new fleet of vehicles, each with its own unique and highly creative design that should arouse the interest of most people who see them on the roads.
Pear Stairs manufacture and supply a comprehensive range of staircases and stair parts, and deliver them across the UK. They are a trading division of the builder’s merchant’s Boys and Boden who have been trading since 1895, so they have a strong history and plenty of experience. Recently the company has found its sales have been increasing and they felt that they should make the move from using a third party courier service to having their own transport fleet of dedicated vehicles that can also be used to advertise their brand across the country.
The project began when the company acquired three brand new DAF 7.5 tonne curtain sided vehicles that were used as a blank canvas for the company’s lead advertising designer, C. Harper, to unleash her creative talents. She was given the simple brief of “Do anything you want as long as it’s amazing” by the company’s managing director, D. Hammond.
Ms Harper has many years of experience as a designer, beginning her career by studying art at Central St. Martins College in London. She decided the concept for the designs would be to “pique the curiosity of the viewer by making the images both blatantly obvious and cunningly obscure.” Which created a beautiful juxtaposition for her to work with. There are no direct references to the company name, instead, it is referenced through the imagery on each vehicle, taking the basic idea of ‘pears’ and ‘stairs’ and working them into various scenes in a unique and visionary way.
The ‘pears’ and ‘stairs’ theme has been used with drastic effects on these lorries by intertwining them with familiar artworks through word play. Works that are referenced include Damian Hirst’s controversial piece that was featured in his exhibition for the 1995 Turner prize, which he won, ‘A Mother and Son Divided’, which has been turned into ‘A Pear Divided’. Johannes Vermeer’s iconic ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ has become ‘A Girl with a Pear Earring’ via a quick change of jewellery. Salvador Dali’s ‘The Persistence of Memory’ sees its melting clocks replaced with melting pears to transform it into ‘The Pear-sistance of Memory’. Other influences can be found from Magritte’s ‘Son of Man’ with its falling fruit and the impossible stairs of Escher’s ‘Relativity’.
These vehicles have been running since the end of 2015, covering around 75,000 miles per year as they deliver a comprehensive range of bespoke and standardised staircases and stair parts across the UK. Pear Stairs transport manager, C. McNamee, said “As the business has continued to grow we felt that running our own fleet of vehicles would give far better control and flexibility over our distribution plans”, while at the same time the company is marketing its brand by inciting the viewer to really think about what they are seeing, and hopefully encouraging them to link these interesting, and sometimes abstract, images with the Pear Stairs brand.
Additions to the fleet were made throughout 2016 with a van, suitable for delivering smaller stock, that was inspired by Star Wars and the sci-fi genre generally that features space imagery and pear-shaped spaceships. As well as a third lorry that was aptly inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s vision of earthly sin and religious retribution from ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’, and was on the road just in time to mark the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death.
While Pear Stairs continue to grow as a company, with new technology that allows them to produce staircases in all shapes, styles, and materials, including glass and curved stairs, taking on more designers and craftspeople each year, we look forward to seeing what treats their design team will come up with next. But, in the meantime, we can see C. Harper’s design skills being spread throughout the trading divisions and branches of Boys and Boden. Their Broughton, Chester branch of builder’s merchants has a number of installations designed by Ms Harper decorating its interior and exterior, and you’ll certainly notice the lorry she designed for their plumber’s merchants, Plumbline, as it takes their killer whale logo and turns it into a 3D model that appears to be trying to escape the vehicle.