Thinking of Happy Mondays one if immediately reminded of day-glo prints, and the famous sweet-wrapper sleeve of “Pills ‘n’ Thrills And Bellyaches”.
The Mondays, just like every other Factory band, had a keen sense of visual identity. Yet in their case it represented a break with Peter Saville’s carefully composed sense of compressed Modernism. The stark visuals of “Unknown Pleasures” were not for Shaun William Ryder: he wanted, and got, a new ecstatic sensibility (see what we did there?).
Enter Central Station Design. Comprised of a three-person team, two of them being Ryder’s cousins, the company produced the sleeves for a huge array of Manchester bands in the late 80s and 90s - creating the iconic ‘Madchester’ logo in the process. Almost entirely self-taught, and with nary an O-level between them, the team became one of the most renowned graphic design companies in the UK working with James, Northside and Black Grape amongst others.
The disintegration of Factory brought a fallow patch for Central Station design, but the recent upsurge in media attention for that period has seen their work re-evaluated. A new exhibition in Manchester’s Richard Goodall Gallery will display much of the firm’s best works, showcasing a day-glo aesthetic that blended cutting edge visual with iconic from pop culture such as the footballer Nobby Stiles, or TV host Hughie Green. The anarchic, self taught nature of the visuals brought a street-level sensibility to graphic design, something that is sorely missed from the record sleeves of today.
To find out more on Central Station Design, visit the company’s website here.
The Central Station Design retrospective takes place in the Richard Goodall Gallery, Manchester from May 16th to June 21st.
To view some of those iconic visuals before the exhibition opens, just click here.
Enjoyed this? Now read the rest of our special series of features on Factory Records!