Strategy, Ideas, Design and Development

+44 (0)161 228 7171

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.


The M&S Archive Explorer

We created ‘Archive Explorer’: an interactive experience available on iPads in the M&S exhibition in Leeds that allows visitors to discover archive content by theme. Visitors can select individual items and save them to their own personal collection. If they wish, they can then email their collection to themselves as a memento of their visit or share with friends on social media.

The content in Archive Explorer is organised into themes such as womenswear, toys and food. Featuring some of the most iconic items in the collection, high quality images allow visitors to explore each artefact in a way that they wouldn’t have been able to previously when hidden away in the archives.

The app’s interface was designed to be as intuitive as possible. Navigation is simple but immersive; offering visitors a tactile experience reflective of the physical sensation of exploring an object in person.

The ability to curate and share collections was another key consideration for Archive Explorer’s user experience. Clear calls to action encouraging visitors to add their favourite items to their collections and to share their collections are present throughout the experience.

Following M&S brand guidelines, we created a modern look and feel for the application, limiting the use of colour across background and typography so as to allow for the products to be the rightful stars of the show.

Archive Explorer is now live and being used everyday by visitors to the archive. If you’d like to find out more or visit the exhibition for yourself, head to the website and get exploring!