Illustration from Fiera Magazine
Sometimes something comes along out of the blue that proves to be an absolute delight. I have been a member of the writers’ group 26 for a couple of years now (www.26.org), and have taken part in a number of their projects pairing writers with illustrators, artists and now designers.
26, which draws its title from the number of letters in the alphabet, believes that creativity is often best achieved by working within limitations. Most of its projects place a strict word limit on the writers involved. It invented the sestude – a piece of writing (poetry or prose) which is exactly 62 words. The 26 Treasures project used sestudes to explore the collections of four national museums and galleries – the V&A, the Ulster Museum and the national museums of Scotland and Wales.
Sestudes too were the constraint in the last project I was involved in – 26 Atlantic Crossings. It was a collaboration between writers on this side of the Atlantic and visual artists working in Prince Edward County in Canada.
For the latest project writers were given a luxurious 100 words to respond to objects displayed during the most recent London Design Festival. I was a late entry, substituting for a writer who dropped out at the last minute (it happens).
I was paired with the Margate-based designer Zoe Murphy (www.zoemurphy.com) whose fascinating furniture draws its inspiration from the gloriously kitsch visual tapestry of a British seaside town. “Innovative, unusual and simply beautiful,” is the description given to her work by design guru Kevin McCloud. Zoe also has a world view, and this year she looked to Mexico to add another layer of complexity to her work. The result was #MexicotoMargate. Her stand at the London Design Festival can be seen below.
The results of the 100 Words project can be seen in the pages of a vibrant new design magazine. Fiera, launched last week, showcases the best in new design from the world’s design fairs (www.fieramagazine.com). The first issue features work showcased in London, Prague, Łødź and Kortrijk.
For my piece I took a stunning retro seven-drawer chest, dressed in Formica, as my starting point. I hope I did it justice.