Bringing the appeal of physical books into the modern world.
Homepage web design
Readers still love physical books despite their digital counterparts beating them in all areas but one: the reading experience. So we created Hommage as a concept brand that explores how we can bring together old and new. The focus for the brand was to create a tangible yet modern feel that would honour the nostalgic value of print books while making reading in all shapes and forms more accessible and enjoyable for the younger, digital-driven demographic.
Hommage is more than a bookshop. It’s a permanent concept store that curates objects and events relating to the reading experience, from magazines to furniture. Offline and online. At the core, Hommage strives to spread the joy that comes from books but it’s not just for avid readers. While reading certainly is a lifestyle for many bookworms, a big part of the brand’s mission is to build a no-judgement place where people can tap into their new interest and (re)explore reading in a new light: away from stress-inducing environments (think university libraries and school rooms), with a hand-picked selection of literature, and in a community of like-minded people. So reading can once again become the enriching practice it was always meant to be. And not just a way of acquiring information on the jump.
With the progressing digitalisation of our lives, moments away from the screen are becoming increasingly rare but it’s those moments that we oftentimes cherish the most. Add a pandemic in the mix and you get an enormous societal longing for nostalgia. Books provide an easy escape. They mean comfort, a welcomed change, a return to simpler times. It’s that feeling physical books give us, the sensory experience, that has stopped the cheaper and more eco-friendly e-books from taking over. But reading in general and especially in the information age is so powerful that it’s worth encouraging, no matter the device used.
So how can we build on the reading experience to make it the best for everyone, readers of physical books and e-books alike. Hommage is our answer to this question.
The challenge lied in speaking to two distinct target audiences: reading enthusiasts - some may say book connoisseurs - and rarely-to-never readers. While the former cares for quality, collectibles and first editions, as well as special events, the latter would be the main audience for the other-than-book products and lighter reads. The goal with the visual identity was to retain a sense of tradition while also appealing to a modern audience. Think old reinterpreted.
To begin the construction of the brand, we first workshopped a name. We wanted something poetic and ownable. Something that signifies cultural tradition while sounding modern-ish. Something that is more conceptual than literal and that the brand could grow with. So we went with Hommage. The concept of paying homage to all the artists that have shaped our world and keep inspiring change is very true to the ethos of the brand: respect the past and build on it to create the future.
Next, we developed the visual identity based on the same principle. We created a logo mark, colour palette, and bold typefaces that would elevate the brand across the web and in the physical world. The golden thread throughout the visual identity is the tangible quality of the assets as opposed to a highly digital look. To infuse the feeling of print books into the brand, we made use of (paper) textures, handwritten notes, muted tones, and organic shapes.
The brand icon is inspired by botanical illustrations of flowers but expressed in a slightly abstract way. Through its highly symmetrical nature it’s reminiscent of images from the Rorschach test. This encourages creative interpretation and gives the icon a macabre touch. Ultimately, Hommage feels like walking into a magical antique bookshop. The one that’s full of character, mystery, and genuine passion. Why flowers? Because they symbolise growing (through learning) as much as the need for nurturing (of the mind).
Most book stores opt for an elegant serif type to express a sense of heritage. We did the opposite. Since the other design elements are rather antique-inspired, the word mark can be more casual and friendly to provide a modern contrast. In doing so, we achieved a balance between traditional and up-to-date.
With Hommage being entirely inspired by the experience of reading physical books, focusing on feelings was of upmost importance. From visiting their social media to browsing the online shop to attending in-store events, the entire experience would need to be super thought-out. Because infusing pleasure at every touchpoint is what turns the buying process into a stand-out experience for the customer. So we started imagining what Hommage could do to win over fans if they were an actually-out-in-the-real-world brand.
Here’s the rundown: Business cards that allow people to share their new discovery with friends, branded tote bags that become daily companions on shopping trips, stickers that strengthen brand awareness and beautify laptops, and of course an online home that holds the entire Hommage universe.
Building out a website for Hommage prompted us to think about how we can communicate the brand to a digital-first audience. We knew that Hommage wouldn’t just be another e-commerce store. We wanted to bring together all of its different aspects on one easy-to-navigate platform. And so that’s what we did.
Guided by the principles of good UX design, the homepage lets visitors discover all products in organised categories. The site also has a search function and a membership portal including wishlist and cart to facilitate shopping. But that’s not the only focus. A big part of the homepage is telling the brand’s story. Helping people understand what the brand is all about means that Hommage isn’t just viewed as a product-selling shop but a brand on a bigger mission.
Their socials would follow a similar principle. We’d recommend that Hommage uses its platform to connect with its audience in a meaningful way. This could be achieved by community-building posts: introducing readers to local authors, involving followers in discussions, supporting related businesses, etc. In conjunction with the blog, Hommage could deliver food for thought and education. All of this would allow Hommage to leverage its voice for positive impact while promoting events and products.
Though a personal project that could be spun out further, the brand we created in its current shape and form already encapsulates what Hommage is all about: infusing the modern reading experience with some of the magic that the traditional reading experience brings. The indulgence and the charm of physical books have informed a lot of the final look and feel of the brand. By building on that and further developing the brand experience through technology and modern communication forms, Hommage could reach its goal of keeping reading alive for pleasure, self-discovery and connection–beyond its purpose of informing.