8 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about Icon & Co (Wales) Ltd…
…but wish you did?
Well that may depend on where you’re coming from, but if you have a connection to the retail profession in any of its variety; from small independent shop-keeping to major high street brand, or if you’re involved in the leisure industry, from making & selling films & TV programmes to making & selling beer, if you’ve got a product or service to sell, are involved in creative marketing & PR, & generally in catching peoples’ attention, you might find Icon & Co quite useful to know.
Maybe you’re looking for an extra special item to enhance that interior space, be it a shop window or home living room, or if you’re thinking about weddings in any capacity; as an organiser, prospective guest searching for a wedding gift or indeed the subject of the big day, then there are a number of ways in which we might be of interest to you.
& you might be surprised by the breadth & scale of activities that the designers, artists, carpenters & project managers in this small corner of South Wales involve themselves with, & the ways in which we might be of service to you. So to begin:
1. High Quality Finishing.
I’m probably going to start with the more obvious Icon facts, but this is a detail that’s worth flagging up once in a while: we can produce the most bespoke-as-you-like, carpentry-made display items to an exceptionally high standard & specification as far as the finishing is concerned – all in-house. Case in point, the highly-polished sweet shop interior pictured below. After the carpenters have done their thing with the display props & furniture that they’ve expertly constructed in our carpentry & joinery workshop, its the turn of Chris in the spray shop to apply his magic (ok, its more likely a combination of paint & lacquer, and sometimes glitter, & there’s not much of the Harry Potter in the way he presents himself). The finish we can achieve on items we’ve built or brought in, timber, metals or plastics, are second to none.
The picture below shows one of seven floors in the Hamleys toy store on Regent’s Street, London, that was part of a major, multi-floor, interior re-furbishment that Icon & Co were principal partners in. In the photo you can see showcased a good variety of materials, surfaces & finishes that found their way down the M4 from our Caerleon workshop:
2. We have a CNC machine & are not afraid to use it.
CNC cutting routering machines, like their laser-cutting cousins, are great for any number of things &, like much in life, are limited only by your (our) imagination. Both are great for cutting sheet material to produce your everyday, mundane components for any number of products that surround us, but we at Icon have a penchant for turning the two-dimensional into three dimensions to great & often theatrical effect. The display gondola / London bus prop below exploits the attractive & unique properties of sheet plywood, with its exposed edges, to achieve a very distinctive look, & our wonderful machine (its called Trevor, by the way) can cut sheet material – MDF, ply, foam board, composite sheet, etc – at a maximum size of 2m x 3m:
3. We have a proud history of working with one of the biggest TV shows in the world.
Dr Who, to get straight to the point (also cult offerings ‘Torchwood’ & ‘Being Human’, & the BBC staple offering, ‘Casualty’). This is something we like to shout about from time to time (well, wouldn’t you?), but we’ve been very fortunate – partly due to the serendipity of being based in very much the same part of the world (Newport is a mere click of a sonic screwdriver away from Cardiff, & the timelord plies his trade across much of the South Wales region & beyond), & partly due to being so good at what we do!
Icon & Co are also kept busy by a vibrant, regional, TV & film industry with props & services supplied with regularity to S4C & BBC productions in both Wales & Bristol, & we have experience in serving a burgeoning, Welsh-based movie-making infrastructure, epitomised by the recent setting up of Pinewood Studios Wales in Cardiff. Below is a scale version of the Tardis, made for an episode – ‘Flatline‘ – where the time-travelling ship shrinks; our version being about half full-size:
4. We can make one material look like another material, & often do!
This, of course, is the stock-in-trade of the prop-maker / scenic artist; ours is indeed a world full of illusion & fakery! Very often the alchemists of the art department will be tasked with having to make one type of wood (most likely the cheap & versatile composite that is MDF) look like another type of wood (often to simulate a timber considerably more aged & character-full), & a regular remit is to create fake concrete or faux natural stone from sculpted polystyrene & added painted effects, such as the hand-painted blocks pictured below. These are great looking, sculptural items in their own right as display or theatrical props – & can take any form you can imagine – but as a paint treatment can enliven your bog standard mannequin bases, podiums or shop display risers, to great effect. Its a bonkers, topsy-turvy world at Icon & Co, & no mistake:
5. We are all shopkeepers now…
You’ve always been able to ring us up / drop us an email & order up bespoke props, pieces of display furniture or any of the awesome services we provide from our South Wales base, but it is now possible to buy a range of ‘off-the-shelf’ items (you could probably buy the shelf-off-us too, if you so wish). This is a relatively new innovation for us & is a logical reaction to the more frequent display prop-requests we receive in our Wales office. Our main ‘shopping portal’ is of course here on this website, where you can buy, at a considerable saving from their bespoke & original versions; MDF display trees; fake, polystyrene, balustrades; & the essential stock-in-trade of the display artist & visual merchandiser, the display plinth; all professionally constructed from MDF to a high, art gallery / museum-ready, quality (as standard!), & with a variety of painted or overlaid finishes.
On top of all that, we are now offering a range of items that are available to buy through both Ebay & Etsy, a move that makes many of our skills & expertise accessible to a more domestic market, a selection of examples of our work being pictured below:
6. Where bigger is better: We have a 5000 ft square capacity workshop facility.
This is not to be sniffed at, as it provides us ample space to incorporate all our carpentry & joinery capability, including the CNC cutter already mentioned, a professional paint spraying department (remember Chris?), & a printing & vinyl-cutting department which features a 1600mm wide, large format printer with a plotter to go. This means we can print to a multitude of substrates as well as – using computer software – cut out what’s been printed, & also create vinyl decal lettering & signage. We can design from scratch & make any of your existing artwork print-ready, all ‘in-house’.
Perhaps most importantly, as far as space is concerned in our line of work, is our ability to build full size film sets, or actual-size window display mock-ups, & build or sculpt giant props out of polystyrene, timber, or any number of materials. The photo below shows a full-size castle prop under construction, in what is just a fraction of our available floor-space:
7. The boss is a Gypsy Punk rock star (& is available for hire)!
We’ve given up trying to make Mark, one half of the dynamic duo that run the Icon & Co enterprise, behave himself, & to be fair its been known for the services of his musical side project, ‘Rogora Khart‘, to be commissioned for a number of Icon staff wedding parties. So this kind of connects back to the wedding thing I’ve mentioned already; a group of reputedly responsible adults dressed & made-up to look like eastern European vagabonds sure beats a dodgy DJ with a box of 90’s pop classics, no?
Rogora Khart; available for weddings, funerals, bar-mitzvahs, etc., etc… You won’t regret it.
8. 2015 is our 20th anniversary!
Well happy Birthday us! We should probably know what we’re doing by now…
We expend a lot of time & effort here at Icon & Co producing eye-catching props & display furniture that get used for a shoot, a show or at best, a season, & is then consigned to a skip or storage (that’s enough alliteration – ed).
That’s ok with us, it’s just the fast-moving world we inhabit, but it did get us thinking about how nice it might be to create something with a bit more permanence, & to perhaps spread our creative abilities to a wider audience. With that in mind, we’ve produced a series of furniture items that are as much for the home as for any commercial setting & are, crucially, built to last!
First up, & featured here, is a sci-fi-themed Games Console Storage Unit & TV Stand; designed, hand-made & hand-painted by our art department & bringing to bear all the experience & expertise normally reserved by our artists for the props & sets of Dr Who, amongst others.
This unit can currently be picked up from our Etsy shop, is part of a highly limited production run, & will soon be joined by a matching range of sci-fi inspired, video game oriented, shelving & storage. Suitable for bedroom, living room, play-room, or whatever you call the space that either yourself or the gamer in your life feeds the gaming habit…
This weekend saw the launch of S4c’s latest living history series, ‘Y Llys’, in which 17 people give up modern life for a few weeks to immerse themselves into a Tudor way of living. Icon & Co supplied props, scenic artwork & their considerable 21st century carpentry skills to help transform the 14th Century fortified manor house at Tretower Court, Powys, for the purpose.
Modern gift-shop buildings had to be concealed & sympathetically blended into their more time-worn surroundings, & large interior spaces were divided up into smaller living spaces, with fake walls that needed to look as worn & ancient as their medieval setting required. Beehives, water-butts as well as entire out-house buildings were constructed & themed for the show, including a functional latrine building, set as a free-standing addition to the gardens. Check out our portfolio pages for more on-set pictures.
The ongoing series can be viewed, with subtitles, here: http://www.s4c.co.uk/en/entertainment/y-llys/
Flatline Tardis Dr Who Prop
Well, the latest BBC Dr Who series is almost upon us (Series 8, set to start 23/8/14), & there is palpable excitement amongst its many fans. We (Icon & Co [Wales] Ltd) are very proud of our continued involvement as one of the suppliers to the show’s production in nearby Cardiff, & were especially excited to spot the media coverage of the mini Tardis Dr Who prop, which was built by ourselves, that appeared a few weeks back (see pic above). Our handiwork was splashed across much of the British printed media, including The Sun’s full-page treatment which we’ve featured here.
As the animation below shows, we did have a little trouble with the transportation mechanism which, once installed, got stuck on a de-materialisation loop. We did eventually manage to jump in and flick the necessary switch, bringing all back under control, but not after we lost the boss somewhere in 1835. I’m sure he’ll be happy there…
Movie Props & Retail Display
Here is a link to a little movie on YouTube capturing for all time an example of a typical Icon & Co job*: individual wall sections or whole buildings & streets can be reproduced from sheet plastic & timber & painted to look just like the real thing. Sometimes even better than the real thing. Routinely used for film & TV stage-set building & movie props but also as props in stores & shop windows where a bit of ‘street’ character is required!
* There is no such thing as a typical Icon & Co job, you should know that by now.
Film Sets & Scenic Artwork
This short animated film shows some of the construction of a full-size castle prop in our workshop in South Wales for a feature film set.
This was one of the sets & movie props created by the prop makers & scenic artists at Icon & Co for the TV feature-length production of ‘Skellig – The Owl Man’ (2009). Extra points if you manage to spot the dog.
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