In 1969 an Oxford caravan was born. After a somewhat ordinary life, the caravan found itself in it’s mid forties and at a loose end. Enter Stacey and Mark Bancroft – graphic designer and draughtsman respectively – looking for an adult caravan to adopt, call their own, and put to work. The couple found the caravan in 2015 and got to work on transforming it into the life of the party it is today. Elegant yet subtle, modern yet classic, and refined yet fun, Darcy is that all-occasions mate you can invite anywhere and know he’ll fit in, no matter what the atmosphere. I talked to Stacey about how they knew their caravan was a boy, why they named him Darcy, which talented graphic designer created his branding, and Darcy’s custom colouring, amongst other things.
How did you know Darcy was a Darcy? When we first purchased Darcy he was a spare bedroom in Carterton. He had been painted to match the house in green house paint. He definitely wasn’t a Darcy then. I have always liked the name and if we ever had a son, I had wanted to call him Darcy. But Mark vetoed this, so our compromise was the caravan. Since then he was referred to as Darcy. He is our other child.
We wanted a name that was classic, timeless (think Mr Mark Darcy from Pride and Prejudice). We were always going to personify the caravan so that name had to reflect the positive aspects of his personality. He is charming and sophisticated with a bit of character. A charismatic fellow that has the girls blushing with admiration and the boys wanting to know his secret to success. We think that Darcy really suits this character.
Why did you choose to personify Darcy? We always wanted our caravan to be more like a guest at the events he was going to be attending, part of the crowd. So it made perfect sense that Darcy was a ‘person’. A colleague once said to me “You speak like the caravan is a person.” I responded “He is a person!” So yes, we knew from the beginning he was going to be personified.
Darcy is clearly male (he is referred to as such on his website) – was this a conscious decision or was it made for you as the aesthetic of the caravan evolved (side note, calling Darcy “the caravan” feels like calling a child “it”!)? It does feel like calling a child “it”! We felt that there were so many ‘she’ caravans in the caravan world, so it was a point of difference to begin with. I suppose the sophisticated, Scandinavian style we were going with lent itself to Darcy being a ‘him’.
What do you think of when you hear the name Darcy and what do you hope your clientele/customers think? When I hear the name Darcy now, I think of soirees and weddings and gatherings where people are a little bit fancy, or have come together to celebrate. Overlooking a typical Hawke’s Bay view with some glorious Hawke’s Bay sun for partygoers to enjoy the occasion! I hope our clientele conjure up the same images, but we also hope people think Darcy would be a great asset to their party, a talking point and someone they want to be friends with.
How often are you asked about the name Darcy? All the time. Quite often people think he is a she. I had never really heard the name Darcy for a girl before, but apparently it is!
Do you have a behind the scenes nickname for Darcy when talking about the business with friends/family? Darce. Mr Darcy.
What made you choose the colour palate you did for Darcy? Was there much deliberation over the exact shade of white you picked? Because Darcy is a caravan we had to use automotive paint. I think we went with the standard Resene white. There must not have been much talk over the specifics as I can’t remember! The grey on the other hand had to be amended a few times. We wanted a really light grey, but the first one we got was so close to white you couldn’t see a difference. So we added some more tint to it until we got the grey it is now. The factory called it ‘Darcy Grey’.
How did you come to choose the font and colours for Darcy’s logo and branding? How do you feel these details represent your brand? I am a graphic designer so I designed the logo myself. Honestly? I just whipped something up quickly and thought ‘that will do’! Admittedly not a lot of conscious thought went into it at all, though perhaps subconsciously I thought about it. I guess the thought process behind it was having a clean, geometric font for ‘Darcy’, to go with the minimalist Scandinavian feel. And then a scripty casual font for ‘the Caravan Bar’ to show his quirky and charming side. There is also a little silhouette of Darcy that is used on collateral. Again, just a simple design that hasn’t been overthought.
We had come up with the colours in the very early part of the process. We wanted the natural tones of the timber, with the lightness of the white and grey and the contrast of the navy. This was all influenced by Scandinavian design which Mark and I are both huge fans of. The brand itself also uses touches of peach and duck egg blue, just because they are my favourite colours.
How important are fonts to you and how do you feel about comic sans? The actual fonts we used aren’t really that important to us. Truthfully, the fonts were probably just the current ones I was using at the time in other design work. I couldn’t even tell you what they are off the top of my head! Comic Sans is like the gerbera of flowers. Common and available at your local petrol station or supermarket. Must never be used for special occasions, only if you are desperate. And even then, surely there is another option …
Images by local photographer Kirsten Simcox, Sarah Williams, and Darcy’s proud mama Stacey.