Darren Leader Studio


Making New Impressions

“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:

More on Studio Review issue one here.

Read the original blog post: Out takes from the Archive. 

Opening up the Studio Review

I’ve wanted to create my own publication for a while, as I wanted to experiment with a document that was large format and loose-leaf. But also there was a project that I wanted to explore further which could be of interest to other designers. Last year, while working on a heritage project with Unlocking the Archive I discovered that from the many renaissance books we found, there were parallels with contemporary graphic design; the origins of typography and composition.

I also wanted to place Andi Sapey’s amazing photos of these books in a contemporary setting, within a publication that could be separated, revealing large scale images in a poster format. The paper was also an unconventional choice, using a light-weight, smooth coated stock which added to the tactile experience.

To keep costs down, each copy was folded and assembled by hand.

Studio Review will be an occasional series which expands on the Studio’s discoveries and work.

More on Studio Review issue one here.

Read the original blog post: Out takes from the Archive. 

NUA Graphics 2017 – in film

Working with the graphics department at Norwich University of the Arts has been a whirlwind of activity this year. From assessments to building degree shows and ultimately graduation,  it is always a buzz; I love being a part of it.

Here is the short film featured at this year’s graphics degree show. Brilliantly shot and edited by Will Reyes with creative direction by Nigel Aono-Billson. It stars a fantastic cast of Year 3 students, working toward their private view.