A very modern Gothic

Rebranding Inverness Cathedral.

What is a Cathedral for?

It's a good question. Ask ten people, and you'll probably get ten answers, many of them utterly opposed to one another. It's for worship. It's for cultural heritage. It's to be looked at as an architectural feature. Maybe it doesn't have any use at all.

For those who care for, and minister in, these buildings, the answer is a little more clear cut. Yes, it's for worship, they say, but—they point out as the next repair bill lands on their desk—it has to sustain itself. In essense, it has to be a business. Businesses need brands.

The old brand wasn't really a brand at all; it was a line drawing. Very much of its time, it wasn't particularly suitable when trying to present the Cathedral as a modern, forward-looking institution that served not only Inverness but also the wider Highlands, both pastorally and culturally. With a view to opening up the interior spaces to be more multifunctional and thus attract artists of all kinds, from fine to dramatic, something new was needed.

Reinventing the old.

Cathedrals fascinate me. I practically grew up in the Inverness one; when I was seven, my parents 'volunteered' me for the choir, and I sang there until I was 19. In that time I learned how they were made—insofar as we can still tell. The great windows of the Gothic cathedrals, which directly inspire the definitely not-Gothic Cathedral in Inverness, were designed geometrically by Master Masons who worked out their designs on a floor of damp sand. They used nothing more complex than dividers, string, and straight-edges. Every curve and every line is co-related. Where better place to start, then, than right at the beginning?

The result is a brand marque that just looks right. It doesn't look like a pastiche or a copy of a Gothic rose window; it looks like the real thing. And so it grabs you, because it's authentically made. The perfect symmetry the digital tools allow us produces the effect of a perfect window—an ideal window.

What better effect to generate when creating a long-lasting brand for an ancient instituion looking to appeal to the modern world in new ways? It succeeds beause it can stand alone; regardless of religion connections it is steadfastly secular in its appeal.

Perhaps the best marker of that was the person who looked at the tote-bag design and simply said, 'I'd buy that.'

Building the rose window; geometry is the order of the day.

Tote bags: big, bold, and eyecatching.