Experience a taste of what’s to come with the City of Threads audio logo. Listen out for the sounds of canes, footsteps, guide dog harnesses and screen readers woven into the wider cityscape. Designed to communicate as much through sound as through vision.
The City of Threads podcast project has had inclusion as a creative inspiration at the heart of its process throughout and across all aspects of the work.
The aim has been to produce richer, more nourishing processes, exciting and innovative artistic developments and to raise awareness and make change in the wider landscape too.
The audio logo was developed through a collaborative process between the City of Threads co-creative group, sound designer Dan Pollard and graphic designer Adam Hedley, with the intention of creating an accessible, inclusive and representative logo that sounded as good as it looked. Here’s Dan and Adam telling us a bit more about the making process.
What were your starting points in designing the audio logo?
Dan: We had a lot to try and fit in, the aim was to capture the character of the city and the group, immerse and invite the listener into the podcast, reference threads and include some sounds that would be particularly recognisable to V.I. listeners. I started by making a few versions focussing in on different things and in the end we combined elements from most of them to create the final version.
Some of the sounds that make up the logo include plucked threads, traffic, seagulls, voices of the participants, canes, google maps directions, screen readers, footsteps and a guide dog harness.
Adam: The recording sessions for City of Threads journeys took place in specific locations around Bristol so we wanted to capture this direct reference visually and audibly. Some of the early sharing sessions with the core team looked at these journeys as traced lines on a map. With the reference to familiar and somewhat universal way-finding apps like Google Maps and Strava there was an exciting potential to explore and present something both local and universally understood at the same time.
A great point of reference when designing with visually impaired audiences in mind was the rebrand of the R.N.I.B by The & Partnership and along with a host of online resources and guides to accessible marketing shared by the City of Threads team.
What was the most interesting and new aspect of how you worked together and how you worked with the group in developing the design?
Dan: As I don’t have a visual impairment it was a challenge to attempt to hear the city through the ears of someone who does. The group are brilliant at describing how they experience sound in compelling and creative ways and the process has changed how I hear the world around me.
It was also interesting providing the audio before Adam started work on his design. Most of my work involves responding to something visual with sound and music so going first was a fresh approach and it was exciting to see what Adam heard and saw in the sounds.
Adam: Definitely working out how a visual and audio logo could co-exist, referencing each other and at the same time touching on the playful, accessible and intriguing nature of the City of Threads project. As the audio recordings developed and informed the audio logo, it became more apparent how the visual would fit into all of this.
As the design progressed what were the biggest surprises or shifts in how you had imagined it would turn out?
Dan: Usually sonic logos are pretty simple, really clean and defined but what I realised in making this one was that while the visual logo had to be like that for accessibility, the audio logo provided an opportunity to add layered detail and texture.
Adam: Finding the subtle balance between creativity and accessibility. In some of the accessible design resources I came across there was a tendency to oversimplify and perhaps appear a little bit corporate and uninspiring. Accessibility remained as a framework throughout, but the team encouraged me to explore how design could challenge these boundaries and captivate people’s imaginations. What we achieved exceeded my expectations.
What do you most love about the final audio logo that you created?
Dan: I’m delighted that the group are pleased with it. They had lots of great ideas about how it should work so I’m pleased to have been able to pull it together in a way that works for everyone and I hope it reveals more with repeated listens. I also really like the threads sounds and I’m glad they made a useable instrument as you never quite know how experiments like that are going to turn out.
Adam: It’s potential to be applied in different scenarios and adapted to fit new content. The map element feels alive and has the potential to be retraced an infinite number of times to reference specific journeys.
And some thoughts from some of the co-creatives who helped develop it.
Lou Lifely (podcast co-creative and co-host)
The simplicity of the visual logo is what is so striking about it! ‘City of Threads’, the writing in the centre of the logo, appears to stand out in an almost 3-D fashion. This draws one to look again and raises curiosity. The lines surrounding the words look like the interrupted outline of a city, again raising curiosity! What is the ‘City of Threads’? Intrigue upon intrigue! The audio logo encapsulates everything that the city experience may give, plus raising questions about some of the other, less familiar sounds one can hear. Listen further to reveal more!
Chris Turner (podcast co-creative and co-host)
The logo evokes a map, a sense of marks and journeys having been made or planned and it being an object you could almost touch. I really like the audio, as it’s almost as if you’re opening a door on to a city scene. There’s a real sense of space and activity, the layered sound, siren, the seagulls which are so much part of the Bristol audio-scape. Jabbering voices, the sounds of someone using a long cane going forward. It creates a sense of intrigue and movement.
Jeff Daniels (podcast co-creative and co-host)
The logo only gives the viewer the title ‘City of Threads’. The rest is up to individual interpretation. It invites you in to investigate, with the audio adding another layer. What can you see? What do you see? Are you sure? A map, boundary lines, or the threads of journeys taken. There are gaps. Are they to be joined up? If so, who can navigate the invisible route? The logo gives you a title, then leaves you to question everything else!
After gazing upon the logo, just close your eyes for just a few moments. Now listen to the audio. What can you identify with? Maybe familiar and unfamiliar sounds yet to be identified. Is someone or something there to navigate the invisible route?”