Rebrand of the Year: Together Design Modernizes Haws, Adds New Appeal To Gardening Classic

by Rudy Sanchez on 06/02/2020 | 5 Minute Read

Sure, we read about high-flying, cutting-edge companies such as Tesla and Apple all the time. These firms push the envelope of what is possible by developing and manufacturing products unimaginable by consumers. 

Haws is not one of those brands. 

The watering can maker doesn't need to tweak their iconic industrial design simply because they already nailed it. Manufacturing gets done by hand, and the craftspersons consistently make high-quality water cans treasured by gardeners for its utility while the design garners sizeable admiration online. Haws watering cans are superior because they are timeless and unchanged, quite the opposite of a smartphone.

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The inspiration for the watering can came to founder John Haws over 130 years ago while he found himself stationed in Mauritius and struggling to cultivate vanilla. Before his design, gardeners would lug around cumbersome watering pots; these consisted of a striking, long spout and a dual handle that was easier to use and wasted less water. Since then, Haws has manufactured high-quality, handcrafted watering cans, which are virtually unchanged from the original 1886 patented design. The then-innovative design earned Haws a stellar reputation among gardeners.

Haws enlisted London-based studio Together Design to give them a contemporary makeover, something the brand hadn’t done in decades. They wanted to bring focus to the qualities that make the cans social media darlings, driven by fans’ love of the industrial design.

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The Birmingham-based craftsmen were a bit confused when they discovered their handiwork as popular hipster totems, living atop living room shelves and not in gardening sheds. One of the aims of the new redesign is to reframe the features of the classic watering can for a new generation of gardeners, emphasizing the function that leads to its attractive form.

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Still, they didn’t want to ignore a new generation of avid gardeners who have taken to the hobby, and they wanted to bolster their social media and eCommerce presence. Plus, they felt they should highlight their eco-conscious values, while also staying true to their roots, including a return to the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show, the largest gardening show in the UK and possibly the world. Held annually by the Royal Horticultural Society, the highly anticipated event attracts over 150,000 visitors, including members of the British Royal Family—it’s the San Diego Comic-Con of gardening, except no one is cosplaying as their favorite polypodiopsida.

"It's a real privilege to have a display there or a stand there amongst the best of the best," says Bryony Meyrick, creative director of Together Design said. "We take that very seriously."

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The iconic shape and ergonomic design are also highlighted further, with Together Design utilizing the original patents to create a collection of illustrations, showcased on the new boxes. The classic scheme is further emphasized by the new packaging, which is not only tessellated and saves space while reducing packaging material, but it’s a nice, gentle reminder that yup, you just bought a watering can.

“Without the packaging, you don't have the brand showcasing and what they're all about. With those early patent illustrations, we decided we would redraw all of them in every shape and size, reproduce them on the front of all of those boxes at 100%,” Bryony explains.

“From an e-commerce point of view, when you receive the packaging in the post, you immediately see you're getting this great watering can," she adds. "It's a nice nod to what's inside."

With the change in packaging, they found they needed 20% less warehouse space. “There's a lot of wasted space in the box and just cut off that bottom triangle,” Bryony says. “Because the weight of the can is in the main body, it still manages to balance pretty well. And that's actually been quite fun for the Haws’ Warehouse. The other day they were saying that it's like a giant game of Jenga now.”

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The new logo makes several clear nods to gardening, like the hawthorn branches above and below the new wordmark, which also has plant-inspired flourishes. The letter ‘A’ in Haws features an organic, arched curve for the bar resembling that of a limb or a stem, while the ‘W’ has a leaf-shaped swash. 

But the work didn’t stop on the outside of the box; they wanted to put their novice gardeners to work right away. 

“Another thing that we did was to include a sort of thank you, like a compliment slip that lots of brands do,” Bryony said. “We made them these little cards that have an herb-seeded paper and printed with vegetable inks the phrase ‘just add water’ on them. As soon as people got their can, they could cut up this compliment slip, immediately put it in their garden and use their can and get watering and get growing.”

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Gardening remains a popular endeavor, but its ability to serve as a conduit between humans and the earth and the therapeutic qualities of tending to plants outside of the confines of our Zoom meetings has gained more significance as we shutter our inorganic machinations and stay home under threat of the coronavirus pandemic. Being cooped up indoors takes a toll on most people, and going outside to commune with nature is a hobby with purpose, a pastime that echos the pragmatic allure of John Haws’ design.

"You know, it's funny," Bryony says. "I think I crave that kind of instant gratification from lots of things in my life, and gardening is the one thing that really just doesn't let you do that. It's just such exercise in patience."

"What I've loved over the last few months is that it's become a little bit meditative for me to go in the garden and do that step outside my homeschooling and working craziness and see how my little tomato plants are doing," she adds. "It's really come at a good time."

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