Knowledge Matters blog

Behind the scenes at the British Library

06 April 2022

Meet the Maker: Museo Design

In our Meet the Maker blog series we shine a spotlight on the independent creative businesses behind some of our product ranges in the British Library Shop (both online and at our St Pancras, London site). This time, we meet Craig Yamey, who runs Museo Design, creators of the bespoke designs in our stunning new Alice in Wonderland range.

Craig Yamey, Museo Design. Photo by James ChampionCraig Yamey, Museo Design. Photo by James Champion

Craig is a London-based designer who specialises in creating custom ranges for museum shops, which allows him to combine his ‘passions for illustration, graphic design, and product development’. Working to briefs for different brands means that Craig takes a different approach to each project rather than working in a set style, ensuring that every range has its own distinctive aesthetic. Having been in business for 26 years, he has worked on a huge variety of projects for institutions such as the Science Museum, Houses of Parliament, and the National Maritime Museum, as well as the British Library.

‘When I embark on a new design, I ensure that I have fully assimilated the nuances of the brief and always begin with a moodboard of images, colour palettes, and typography. I present clients with several design options so there is always a lot to choose from.’

Craig has a studio at Cockpit Arts Holborn, a ‘social enterprise for craftspeople’, where he enjoys working alongside lots of different kinds of creative people. ‘I share my studio with a jeweller, leather worker, a weaver and a product designer. There is always a great exchange of ideas and it is wonderful to be part of a wider community of designers.’

Items from the Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition range. Photo by James Champion.Items from the Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition range. Photo by James Champion

Cushions from the Wonderful Wizard of Oz range. Photo by James ChampionCushions from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz range. Photo by James Champion

Since 2014, Craig has created more than 16 ranges for the British Library Shop, including for the Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition range in 2017, and the recent The Wonderful Wizard of Oz collection. In 2021 we approached Craig about working on a new Alice in Wonderland range for the Shop, to give a modern take on the much-loved Sir John Tenniel illustrations from Lewis Carroll’s famous story. Our brief was quite broad, as we were keen to see what ideas Craig had from looking at the source material, and we were delighted to see the initial designs.

‘My aim was to capture the beautiful etched lines of his [Tenniel’s] artwork from the late 1800s by incorporating ornate Victorian frames and etched illustrations, but adding a contemporary twist with letterpress typography. I was very excited as the brief allowed me to incorporate gold foiling which informed a lot of the design process. My initial moodboard included Victorian playing cards, printed letterpress and antique book covers.’

Craig at work on the new Alice in Wonderland range. Photo by Candice Lau.Craig at work on the new Alice in Wonderland range. Photo by Candice Lau

After working with Craig to narrow down the potential options, we focused on a few items to build the bespoke parts of the range around, made up of tote bags, notebooks, bookmarks and enamel pin badges. Once we had these, we added some additional items featuring the designs, and incorporated products from some of our other excellent suppliers to complement the designs Craig had created. Craig’s favourite product from the range is the Alice Box Bag, which features letterpress-style quotations up the sides and across the handles to give that extra wow factor.

British Library Shop Buyer Charlie says, ‘We are delighted with the new Alice in Wonderland range, and love how Craig has combined Tenniel’s iconic original depictions of the characters with modern pops of colour. The gold foiling accents on the prints and leather items add a beautiful quality, and it’s been great to add some new product types such as the box bag and the pouch. The enamel pins are a triumph and I can’t wait to buy one of each!’

Bag Pic six

The Alice Box Bag and ‘Curiouser and Curiouser’ Recycled Leather Notebook from the new range

What’s next for Museo Design? Craig is an avid painter, and is currently working on a product range featuring his own designs, which will be screen-printed onto items such as tote bags and cushions.

Craig’s advice for anyone starting out with their own business?

‘My advice is to start small and build up your business slowly. Make yourself stand out from the crowd by bringing something unique to the market.

It is important to equip yourself with the necessary business skills to price your work and services appropriately. I found a wealth of information online and took many free courses to improve my business acumen. As someone working on my own I find being in a shared studio a great source of inspiration and appreciate the advice and support of others.’

Click here to browse the new Alice in Wonderland product range 

Click here to visit Museo Design’s website

Click here to follow Museo Design on Instagram