Strategy, Ideas, Design and Development

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M&S archive explorer 2

This is… the M&S Archive Explorer

The challenge

Marks & Spencer have an incredibly rich history and heritage, spanning over 130 years. During that time, their classic yet functional designs have become synonymous with British life and style. We’ve all got an M&S treasure tucked away somewhere!

Back in 1984, the M&S team decided it was time to look back with pride on their history and celebrate it by creating the M&S Company Archive collection. Since then, the collection has grown and grown, and there are now over 70,000 items in the archive. Objects range from clothing to food packaging to oral history recordings, all offering a little piece of the vast and impressive history of M&S.

With so many interesting items in the collection, the M&S archive team were keen to offer a new way for visitors, students and experts to explore the collection’s highlights in more detail. As well as displaying the items, it was also important to share the stories behind each piece.


digital archive

This is... a new digital archive for the American Air Museum

magnetic North's creative director Adam Todd has written an in-depth piece about the design process we applied to the digital archive project we recently collaborated on with American Air Museum. This article explains the thinking behind the design of the American Air Museum digital archive and provides some insight into why we are proud to have been a part of this particular project. 

The digital archive currently deals with over 500,000 entry records with over a million connections between them.

walking tours app

This is… a new walking app

We collaborated with Manchester City Council and NOMA to create the ‘Manchester Walking Tours’ iOS app - a unique audio visual experience that allows you to explore the city and discover its defining moments in a totally new way. 

The app, which is layered with content from the city’s archives, gives you a 'heads-up' experience: plug in your headphones, pop your mobile device in your pocket and simply follow our audio directions without ever having to look down at a screen. All the content is location triggered using the GPS functionality of your iPhone, which means you can explore an area at your own pace.

The app was selected as a finalist in the 'Guardian Cities World Challenge Day' which highlighted the best ideas coming out of global cities

Proms 2014 v2

This is… the world’s greatest classical musical festival

In partnership with BBC Radio 3, mN created a new online and mobile home for the largest classical music festival in the world: the BBC Proms. The site, originally re-launched in 2011 and refreshed by us each year since, has a design inspired by the drama, scale and breadth of the Proms and offers an easy way to book, listen in HD Sound to and watch all broadcast performances. In May 2014 the site won the Multiplatform Award at the Voice of the Listener and Viewer Awards - the site was in good company with Sir David Attenborough and University Challenge also picking up awards too!

The 2013 Proms saw over 2 million visits to the site, with an all-time weekly reach high of 390,000 unique browsers during the penultimate week of the festival, up 30% on 2012.

Arup Explorer from mN on Vimeo.

This is… our first project with Arup

The Arup Explorer is an experimental journey through their vast body of work; iconic building projects such as London’s Olympic 2012 Aquatics Centre, The Sydney Opera House and the Pompidou Centre in Paris.

Taking design inspiration from naturally occurring geometric shapes and tessellations, the Explorer takes the form of a prism like shape that can be spun and unfolded to reveal beautiful imagery, anecdotes and details about Arup’s projects.

Developed using a custom 3D engine, Arup Explorer works across multiple platforms including tablets and touch screens to deliver a highly engaging journey through their jaw dropping portfolio.

Arup has 10,000 projects going on at any one time managed from their 90 International offices across Europe, North America, Africa, Australasia and South East Asia.  

Desert Island Discs

This is… the digital archive of a British icon

mN worked with the BBC to design and build a digital archive for one of the longest running shows in radio history: Radio 4’s iconic Desert Island Discs. Spanning almost 70 years, fans can search for every record, every book and every luxury item chosen by all 3,000 plus guests to have appeared on the show since 1942. You can listen online and download classic episodes from Morrissey to Nicole Kidman and delve into the data archive. Audiences have downloaded over ten million programmes since the launch in April 2011 and the site is one of the highest scoring for audience appreciation across BBC Online.

The site attracts an average of 50,000 unique users every week, with that figure rising to 100,000 when there's been a particular popular guest on the show that week.