“What shall we do this year?”
My client Unlocking the Archive were interested in ideas of how they could engage new audiences for the renaissance books collection at the Heritage Centre, in the Forum Norwich. And my answer was immediate, “let’s create a graphic design event; we could ask a selection of Norwich designers to respond to a creative brief that celebrates renaissance book design”.
Unlocking the Archive were already excited, “Could we do that? Would people be interested in taking part?” I thought so, and advised them to leave it with me, to make contact and gauge interest.
So began an interesting summer of meeting various designers to pitch the idea. And the response was enthusiastic and overwhelming. I was pleased to confirm that other designers relished the opportunity to experiment and make the same connections with renaissance book design that I had previously made two years ago. What fascinated me with these books that there were distinct parallels with contemporary graphic design practice and often surprising examples of design innovation too.
Tom and Sophie at Unlocking the Archive suggested a great title for the project, ‘New Impressions: redesigning Norwich’s renaissance books’. Next, we drafted the brief and planned workshops and talks to introduce our designers to the book collection and the renaissance world where people, ‘actively read’ books, pen in hand to access and question knowledge.
Everyone taking part in the New Impressions project were inspired by their discoveries and shared their ideas to discuss potential visual directions. It was like being design students again. But it was also a time to nurture a genuine love for graphic design practice, which was free from the usual constraints of commercial work.
Our work for New Impressions will be available to see Saturday 25th November at the forthcoming Being Human Festival at the Forum Norwich. A legacy website for New Impressions is also planned to collect the work and profile each of the participating designers.
New Impressions is also looking forward to a bigger exhibition early next year at the Crypt Gallery, Norwich Cathedral.
More details to follow.
Links to other Unlocking the Archive stories: