Friday, 29 June 2012

From Kent to Cumbria

For a while I've been toying with the idea of leaving my southern seaside town for a few days in order to learn a little more about other UK coastal communities.

Then by pure co-incidence I was contacted Signal Films, and heard all about the amazing work being done on reviving the histories of the Cooke’s building (an old department store) and it’s neighbouring businesses in Barrow-in-Furness. When they asked if I would like to come and help with the creativity - it was a straightforward ‘yes’!  

As a designer I take inspiration from the histories of my hometown, so I found the Cooke’s stories were the perfect topics to inspire some really interesting imagery. The accounts of the people who used to work in the department store tell tales of dolls and fabrics, socials and deliveries, furniture and upholstery, good days and bad – all things that can inspire some fantastic shapes, colours, and patterns.

I visited Signal Films to run a few days of workshops back in May and had a chance to meet some of the very creative volunteers. We had a whole selection of Cooke’s adverts and collected information to work from, and everyone involved came up with some fantastic design ideas based on the history of the store as well as Barrow itself. 

We used the notion of old adverts or retro textile designs as a template to work to, and everyone seemed encouraged by a different element of the store’s past. Some taking part chose to draw elements of their design by hand before scanning them into the computer, while others were happy enough to start working in a program like ‘Photoshop’ straight away. All in all the results were a great start to my side of the project (see one below) and I’m looking forward to working with the volunteers in some further days next month. We hope to make a striking piece of art or design that can represent some of the oral histories in a new way.

A repeat pattern inspired by the haberdashery floor in the Cooke's buildings.

 One discovery was that the store had it's own furniture workshop in the attic, which used to ship it's produce down to the sales teams - how amazing is that?! Considering we’ve got the manufacturing and upholstery history of Cooke’s top floor to live up to… I wonder what we’ll make!! 

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