Kano is a creative computer company in London, who makes computer kits that range from buildable laptops and motion controlled apps, to codeable wands and light-boards.
Each kit comes with a storybook that guides you page by page, step by step, from components to computer, and teach you about them, code, and how they work together. In my role as art director I worked with the product team to develop, design, and illustrate the books.
Sketching and testing starts as soon as – and sometimes before – we have a prototype of the kit. A rough flow of the build is sketched, fun facts placed throughout, and comps are printed, bound, and brought to workshops. Here, we observe, ask questions and listen. After several test sessions, we’ll have a good understanding of what sections that need extra thought, and once addressed, we start to fully illustrate sketches, proofread copy, and bring it all together for a few final rounds of testing before signing off.
Defining the style
Kano kits are for anyone, anywhere. But, it’s audience is predominantly young makers, between the ages of 7-14, which led a lot of the development of the kit’s visual language. We explored several directions, and ended up with vibrant illustrations, striped back of details, made out of simple shapes and clean lines, to focus on the required action of each step. We want the build to be exciting, fun and educational.
Code Wand Kit
The book for Kano’s Harry Potter Code Wand Kit looks a bit different from the rest. To create a more immersive experience, we wanted the book to look and feel like it belonged in the Wizard World. So here I relied a lot on rough, worn, lines and muted colours to give it an aged look, to keep it in-line with existing in-world illustrations.
Kano books have been printed in several editions, featured in 7 kits, translated into multiple languages and shipped to 100,000+ makers worldwide.
An important - but not often talked about - aspect of the books are that they’re free, and available to anyone, anywhere.