International designer Nick Munro has used his trademark sense of style, with a touch of humour, to design products for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI). Flags and nautical language are posted on mugs, tea towels and aprons for an uplifting collection that will be loved by sailing enthusiasts or anyone with a fondness for the coast.
Signs of the Sea uses the International Code of Signals - the bold flag system that is used to represent letters and numbers. Each of the products, from canvas bags to handkerchiefs, has a nautical phrase across it. The socks , like all the products, have a witty edge with ‘port’ and ‘starboard’ on the left and right foot.
Attention All Shipping is inspired by the speech of a Shipping Forecast, which is the weather report for sea conditions that’s broadcast around the British Isles. Each of the items uses short, sharp and somewhat funny phrases to convey a purpose, much like the apron that says, ‘Cooking imminent; kitchen currently tidy; becoming messy or very messy later….’ , and the tea towel that says, ‘Low just west of breakfast 7 or 8, feeling rough or very rough, improving after showers’.
So what made the Royal College of Art graduate decided to collaborate with the RNLI?
It was a unison of two halves, RNLI wanted to move their ranges on to a modern world for the design conscious customer. While Munro’s personal connection dates back to his childhood; back to a time where he collected buttons for his Blue Peter lifeboat appeal. His fascination continued throughout life: visiting lifeboat stations with his dad and later learning to sail himself.
The lifesaving work was brought into fruition during the 1979 Fastnet race, where an unexpectedly heavy storm caused 18 fatalities. It was then that Nick Munro realised what a great institute the RNLI was.
To convey his admiration he wanted to tell an original and distinctive narrative. He aimed to show the RNLI in a completely new light with a contemporary, relevant and witty twist. For this, he turned to the flag code that was made famous by Admiral Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar. The alphabet of the sea was bright and bold enough to match his vision.
He had the look, now he wanted the tone. The Shipping Forecast, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 four times a day, was the perfect inspiration for something that defined the voice of Britain. Munro wanted to capture the same soothing qualities for the collection. Presenting the words in the same format, he had the RNLI presence of affirmation and affection printed across each product.
The final range brings home the lifesaving work that the RNLI charity does; namely rescue, on average, around 22 people a day. They run their essential services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on voluntary contributions and charitable donations. It was this that Munro wanted to help and declared that £15,000 raised from the collection will be contributed