Designer Collector: Coasters
What do you collect?
I have a collection of drink coasters. How many? I am not sure, but it has to be over 600. They are set up in old photo albums and separated by their brands or regions where it makes sense. Not all of them are beer or spirits —some promote sporting events, movie launches, airlines, hotels, other products such as cigarettes and some public service campaigns.
I started picking them up in my 20s, mostly because I was going to patios with friends and colleagues and I liked the variety of designs. At first, I never intended on having them as a collection; they just started to accumulate. As I travelled more, I would add to the collection with brands that we don't have or see regularly in Canada.
How does it inspire you as a designer?
I enjoy seeing how brands use design to position their product or message, and how different countries position similar products. The use of illustration, photography, typography and copywriting vary so much from one to the next. It is fun to see how the larger brands changed their design approach over time. While most coasters go with a standard circle shape, some use special die-cuts to reinforce the brand identity or align with other marketing efforts such as with sporting events, for example a helmet-shaped coaster to promote football. Some use unique shapes to push a clever concept, such as pop-out ring measurements in case you want to propose, or fake moustaches for social media photos. For the record, my wife likes nothing about the collection and would like to see it go away. :)
A friend gave me a number of beer mats that belonged to her uncle. He collected them in England during the 70s. I really like a bunch of them because of the illustrations and simple bold statements. In particular, some of the ones from Bass are quite unique. In addition to those, there are some local beer brands (eg. Steam Whistle Brewery and Wellington Brewery) that a good friend of mine, David Hayes, designed.
An item you aspire to have in your collection?
I am not sure I have a dream item that I want to collect, to be honest. The marketing of Guinness over the years has stood out so perhaps some earlier coasters from them would be nice. There is a Gilpin Brewery in Colorado and a Gilpin Gin distillery in the UK that I wouldn't mind adding to the collection.
Wade Gilpin RGD is the Creative Director of Sherpa Creative. Wade has over 20 years of industry experience working with companies of all sizes and across a number of industries to strategically evolve brands. He has extensive experience working within theatre and the arts & culture. Wade spent 2 years on the Public Advisory Council (PAC) for Centennial College Media, School of Communications, in respect to their Media, Arts and Design Program, is a past Member of the RGD Communications Committee and a regular reviewer of student portfolios with RGD.