Nicola Darwen

Ongoing projects, images and inspiration:
About: Ongoing projects, images and inspiration:

Some last minute marbling for an equally last minute Secret 7” entry!

I spent a day at the National Portrait Gallery learning about calligraphy and trying my hand at a few letters.

Practice makes perfect…

Stories from the Fold – Clare Skeats

Clare Skeats talked about her work at Pushkin Press, a publishing house specialising in translated writing. When she (and her husband David Pearson) were brought in for the redesign they were initially given free reign but decided in the end to work on what turned out to be more of a refresh and modernising of the existing format.

Inspite of this I thought it was one of the most interesting talks, showing how a clear grid, sensitive approach to type and collaboration with the right illustrators and image makers can really make or break a cover, resulting in an endlessly versatile and truly elegant body of work.

Stories from the Fold – Jon Gray
Jon Gray was for me the best speaker at the event, striking the right balance between humour and actual solid advice.  He’s designed a lot of things I’ve seen before and liked, and even more things that I haven’t seen before and loved.
His overarching analogy was going on a bear hunt; that as designers we’re always on the hunt for new more interesting and exciting things. Even more insightfully he pointed out that once you’ve gotten good at catching ‘bears’ it’s all too easy to become complacent, really great designers (or those that stay in work anyway) push themselves further, out of their comfort zones, to hunt ever more exotic creatures.

Stories from the Fold – Jon Gray

Jon Gray was for me the best speaker at the event, striking the right balance between humour and actual solid advice.  He’s designed a lot of things I’ve seen before and liked, and even more things that I haven’t seen before and loved.

His overarching analogy was going on a bear hunt; that as designers we’re always on the hunt for new more interesting and exciting things. Even more insightfully he pointed out that once you’ve gotten good at catching ‘bears’ it’s all too easy to become complacent, really great designers (or those that stay in work anyway) push themselves further, out of their comfort zones, to hunt ever more exotic creatures.

Stories from the Fold – Brian Webb

I was lucky enough to get a ticket to the fantastic ‘Stories from the Fold’ evening at St Brides this week, which has made it quite a book-heavy few days.

The first speaker up was Brian Webb who has enjoyed a long and illustrious career in book design, and I think showed me more than anything that the work you love is the work you do best at.  Case in point his bombastically titled ‘Design’ series which began as a bit of an odd job years ago and has since spawned some beautifully designed titles which look particularly impressive as a set.

In contrast his redesign of the Harry Potter covers (which he spoke about with far less enthusiasm) seem to reflect that lack of interest. He’s also responsible for the new adult Harry Potter covers which have received, shall we say, mixed reviews.

LDF – Craft Central
Craft Central came up trumps again with a brilliant display of cross disciplinary printed design, covering everything from traditional ink on paper, to textiles, furniture and 3D printed jewelry.
My favorites in no particular order were the Tea for One tables by DesignK which features white on wood patterned legs, Pigeon wallpaper and cushions by Thonback & Peel, more pigeons and various other ornithological delights from Fanny Shorter and a whole variety of typography based prints from Marby & Elm and Turnbull Grey (who also designed and produced the rather lovely exhibition posters).
Craft Central always seem to have things going on so I’d recommend keeping an eye on their blog for future events. 

LDF – Craft Central

Craft Central came up trumps again with a brilliant display of cross disciplinary printed design, covering everything from traditional ink on paper, to textiles, furniture and 3D printed jewelry.

My favorites in no particular order were the Tea for One tables by DesignK which features white on wood patterned legs, Pigeon wallpaper and cushions by Thonback & Peel, more pigeons and various other ornithological delights from Fanny Shorter and a whole variety of typography based prints from Marby & Elm and Turnbull Grey (who also designed and produced the rather lovely exhibition posters).

Craft Central always seem to have things going on so I’d recommend keeping an eye on their blog for future events. 

LDF – SORT Letterpress Workshop

Sought out the wonderful people from SORT in Fortnum and Mason on Saturday morning to get this sweet little letterpress notebook printed.

Whilst I may have been the oldest person in the queue for the press by some way (it happened to have been put in a list of top 10 things to do with children for free in London…) It did afford me the chance to have a sneaky chat about how they run their regular workshop and how they keep what could potentially be perceived as the fading art of print alive in an increasingly digital world.

All in all worth the slight detour it took to get there, especially since I *may* have been tempted into a spot of truffle shopping on the way out…

LDF – Tent London
The ever talented Natalie Ratcliffe managed to snag a ticket to the opening night of Tent London this week and was gracious enough to let me tag along.
I spend a lot of time at work image searching amongst design blogs (mostly for ‘refined elegance’, ‘understated luxury’ and the like) and so it seemed like I’d seen a lot of the things on show before, and though it was great to see them in the flesh I found myself being drawn towards the more unusual and outlandish exhibitors.
Donya Coward definitely fell into this category, she had a whole range of embellished embroideries and bedazzled fabric taxidermy on show, my favourite amongst which was definitely this awesome zebra.

LDF – Tent London

The ever talented Natalie Ratcliffe managed to snag a ticket to the opening night of Tent London this week and was gracious enough to let me tag along.

I spend a lot of time at work image searching amongst design blogs (mostly for ‘refined elegance’, ‘understated luxury’ and the like) and so it seemed like I’d seen a lot of the things on show before, and though it was great to see them in the flesh I found myself being drawn towards the more unusual and outlandish exhibitors.

Donya Coward definitely fell into this category, she had a whole range of embellished embroideries and bedazzled fabric taxidermy on show, my favourite amongst which was definitely this awesome zebra.

Considering giving this a go, goodness knows I love a good list!

Bullet Journal (by Ryder Carroll)

Memory Palace at the V&A
I used the last day of my V&A membership to visit the Memory Palace on Saturday, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the website but I was pleasantly surprised by the exhibition in real life.
The idea is that you enter the cell of a prisoner from a dystopian future where memories are banned, and in different corners there are muddled recollections of the time before civilisation as we might recognise it fell. A very interesting way to tell a story and some sharp insights into the realities of an age so dependent on technology.
A few of the pieces are on the website with accompanying explanations but I’d definitely recommend seeing it in person if you have a morning to spare.
(clicky clicky)

Memory Palace at the V&A

I used the last day of my V&A membership to visit the Memory Palace on Saturday, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the website but I was pleasantly surprised by the exhibition in real life.

The idea is that you enter the cell of a prisoner from a dystopian future where memories are banned, and in different corners there are muddled recollections of the time before civilisation as we might recognise it fell. A very interesting way to tell a story and some sharp insights into the realities of an age so dependent on technology.

A few of the pieces are on the website with accompanying explanations but I’d definitely recommend seeing it in person if you have a morning to spare.

(clicky clicky)

"Spin Madly On" theme by Margarette Bacani. Powered by Tumblr.