Drafted-in at the last minute to design the programme for the Water City Festival Orchestra in a Weekend finale concert, there was a lot of thinking on our feet. So it was nice to sit down and enjoy the remarkable performance at the end of an intense weekend’s workshops by professional and community musicians who had never played together as a single orchestra. The evening showed off the newly-restored 1930s People’s Palace theatre at Queen Mary, University of London. Entrance was via stellar performances from the Pandemonium Drummers from the Olympics opening ceremony and and a line-up of junior ukulele-players.
Lydia loves a steam engine – and not just because her ancestors designed the things. The industrial pride of the steam age showed in every detail of machinery and buildings. And so with a last-minute chance to get into a very rare guided tour of The Crossness Pumping Station, Lydia charged up her camera battery and rearranged her weekend. Why would a woman give up her Sunday for a sewage works, you ask? Take a look at the pictures.
It really was round the block for a rare opening of 19 Princelet Street, the museum of immigration and diversity in Spitalfields. So our queueing experience involved chat about architecture, silk-weaving, art, family history, cultural identity, some industrious smartphone web-surfing about the building’s history and one of our party making a foray into the market to bring back tea and sustenance. it was worth it, though, for a look around a remarkable building which has been variously a Huguenot silk-weaver’s house, a synagogue, an industrial school and carver and gilder’s home and workshop. The staff describe it as a ‘museum of ideas’ – and they duly trundled along the queue posing questions about how we would define who we were and where we came from: whether that was to do with family heritage, where we lived, who we were with, what we did – and whether that was static or something that changed. Thought-provoking stuff.
With Music In Detention’s website launching just before Christmas, it’s been great to get the story out about one of our most interesting projects of the past couple of years. You can read more here or visit the Design Week website.
Peer into it; wander around it, gaze up at it: sculpture is at its best when it brings out the curious five-year-old in you. David Nash’s sculptures from his residency at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew do just that, using up as they go trees at the end of their life or felled by weather and responding to the science, landscape and architecture of the site. And it’s a wonderful place to wander around with a camera at any time of year (more pics here).
Looking as though you’ve been preparing squid is an interesting by-product of going analogue for a crafty bit of making. Next time, water-based ink. Or gloves. But for anyone looking to get a bit more energy-efficient by turning the heating down a few notches, Lydia can recommend stencilling as a way to keep warm. Who knows, it might use up a few calories as well, which is never a bad thing in the festive season. Isn’t this all a bit off-piste for graphic design, you may ask yourself? Absolutely not! Designers broadening-out their practice leads to well-rounded, well-informed work that isn’t averse to a bit of playtime. And it’s a great way of using up waste materials.
These postcards and gift tags were for an all-proceeds-to-charity stall in aid of U-Turn at East End WI’s Christmas market.
Lydia’s sense of direction being famously-dodgy, there’s quiet satisfaction in navigating through families bustling their way around the V&A’s exhibitions to a peaceful, thoughtful oasis of how-it’s-made. The new furniture gallery shows off the collection by mode of manufacture. There’s a materials section where you can hold a sample and the digital display will show you some information – the longer you hold, the more depth of knowledge you get. Well worth seeking out, via the new ceramics study collections piled high in towers and arcs of glass shelving.
Our annual studio book is quite rough-and-ready. We go for an industrial look, with visible stitching. But underneath that off-the-cuff look, we pore over every sentence; shoot and reshoot the apparently quick, record pictures; edit, retouch, tweak and respecify. This one is in production and it’ll be out soon in a limited edition of 100.
Our own stuff allows us to go beyond commissioned work, to develop and explore ideas because they interest us and we think they might interest other people. We have quite a lot of those ideas – so watch this space.
In Mostar with UWC International staff for communications workshops, looking out of the window was less a distraction than a necessity. You’re told about the light – but it’s such a thing of wonder that it’s a matter of local pride. So time off in Mostar and Sarajevo meant pictures… And it was fitting that the trip was not just about sharing our knowledge – it was hugely-illuminating for our current UWC projects.
Easily-distracted, designers. We don’t mean to be impolite, staring at the ceiling – but it’s understandable when a concert is in one of the finest Elizabethan interiors in the country, Middle Temple Hall. At Rêverie, The Life and Loves of Claude Debussy, with pianist Lucy Parham and actor Brendan Coyle, the audience was encouraged to enjoy the building as well as the music and the story, with interval drinks across several stunning rooms and corridors. An all-round cultural experience from Temple Music.